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External or internal evaluation – how do you decide?

In the following interviews you will hear from two different Creative People and Places projects about their approaches to evaluation.

An important decision in planning your evaluation is whether to carry out your evaluation activities yourselves internally or outsource to external parties.

In the following interviews you will hear from two different Creative People and Places projects about their approaches to evaluation. Creative People and Places (CPP) is an Arts Council England funded programme focused on parts of the country where involvement in formal creativity and culture is significantly below the national average.

Lucy Thurley from CPP Hounslow in West London will talk about evaluating their CPP programme in-house, whilst Tina Redford from LeftCoast in Blackpool will talk about commissioning an external evaluator. Lucy and Tina explain why they took the approach they did, and what they needed to think about, as well as sharing some top tips for internal and commissioned evaluation.

Listen to the interviews

We have asked the interviewees the following questions:

  1. Why did they decide to take this particular approach?
  2. What did they consider as part of their decision making?
  3. What has it been like doing their own evaluations or commissioning an external consultant?
  4. What do they consider as the advantages and disadvantages of doing it themselves or commissioning to an external consultant?
  5. Some top tips they would share with anyone thinking about commissioning an external evaluator or undertaking their own evaluation in-house.
Lucy Thurley

Lucy Thurley

As Programme Manager of CPP Hounslow, Lucy has the overview of the programme, making sure that the cogs keep turning and that everyone is enabled to do their work, supporting the development of individuals and groups, building capacity and infrastructure and growing a grassroots network of people who may carry on the work into the future. 

Click on the link Listen to Lucy Thurley discussing about undertaking evaluation in-house.

Transcript – Lucy Thurley

Tina Redford

Tina Redford

Since 2017, Tina Redford has been the Artistic Director at LeftCoast, in Blackpool. Previously, she was Head of the Library Service in Warrington and Director of Culture Warrington. Tina graduated from Lancaster University in 1988 with BA Hons in Marketing and Theatre Studies before embarking on an artistic career for the next 15 years that involved acting, stage management, gigging, lecturing and running a professional recording studio.

Click on the link Listen to Tina Redford discussing about commissioning an external evaluator.

Transcript – Tina Redford

Activity: Decision tree

  • Using the decision tree infographic provided below, answer the questions that best suit your current situation. 
  • Each question will branch out into “Yes” and “No” options, and each option will present you with a new question to consider. 
  • The end goal is to arrive at the decision of “External” or “Internal” evaluation.
Tip: When you are thinking about the resources you have available, refer back to the previous exercise for some concrete detail of the resources you will need for your evaluation.

Time to reflect

  • Did you find this activity useful in determining whether your evaluation can be delivered internally or externally?
  • Which of these questions did you consider most impactful to reach your decision?
  • Can you think of any other questions that you would/could add to this process to reach a decision?
Share and discuss your thoughts with other learners in the Comments section. Try to respond to at least two other learners’ posts.
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Evaluation for Arts, Culture, and Heritage: Principles and Practice

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