Maker Monday Commissioning Project
Maker Monday was already an established, monthly ‘maker event’ when it secured additional funding from Arts Council England to commission four artists. The focus here was for artists to work with partner organisations in creating new works with a digital focus, in ways that would engage audiences both established and new. With such specific deliverables and outcomes, it was imperative to address whether the project criteria had been met and so M & E Lab were consulted to take on this work.
M & E Lab first worked with BCU to establish and agree the criteria for evaluation, based on Maker Monday’s initial proposal for the commissioning project. These included quantitative objectives, where it was expected that four projects would be undertaken, but also supported by a number of public-engaging workshops and events. In addition to this were described various objectives that required a more qualitative approach, such as the expectation that the artists should learn from their experience, that the works should extend participation into local arts communities, or that the partners should support the artists in various ways.
The criteria were addressed in a number of ways, through our own primary research. We devised a form that was used online but also at one of the Maker Monday public–facing events, to identify who attended these events and whether these matched expectations. This was also supported by our attendance at one such event, to gather evidence of the public’s experience. Finally, we interviewed a sample of six people involved, including the Maker Monday event organisers, partner organisations and artists. In combination with other pre-existing materials, data and documentation regarding the work, we were able to analyse our findings and produce a written report as agreed with BCU. In addition to this we also agreed to deliver a presentation of findings to the project team, with a view to their future similar activities.
We discussed with BCU the most useful way to report this, and as a result provided them with a written report that they could then use in their consecutive reporting to Arts Council England. We primarily structured this to answer each aspect of the evaluation criteria we had agreed with them. However, as a result of undertaking our primary research, we had also identified a number of noteworthy additional benefits of the projects and issues to take note of, so these were presented in a separate section, and include recommendations for future work.
The M&E Lab evaluation has provided the MakerMonday team with valuable feedback, not only on the specific funded activity but also on the wider MakerMonday activity; the team were very thorough in their approach to the evaluation and their findings will help us to develop our work further.
Charmaine Stint, BCU Maker Monday project lead