Let’s Stop “Proving” and Start Improving – what’s evaluation’s real role?

I’ve just read another really thoughtful blog from Nina Simon (Museums 2.0). It points out that because evaluation is frequently  paid for by the organisations which funded the museum’s project in the first place, there is an inevitable wish to prove that the project has been successful and therefore a lack of willingness for evaluation to find areas for improvement.

Although the two things should be able to happen within one piece of work, in practice this often doesn’t happen. The need to prove success colours the whole approach to the evaluation, meaning that the methods used are less likely to uncover the real learning points which could lead to future improvements. This is such a lost opportunity for our sector, where external evaluation is often unaffordable if it is not part of a project.

AIM suspects that funders would really like evaluation to be robust and to uncover opportunities for improvement, but what can they do to reassure the museums they fund that such findings will be viewed positively as indicating an organisation with desire and capacity to improve, rather than be seen as failings in the project they have funded?

Read the full blog from Nina Simon here: Museum 2.0: Arts Assessment: Let’s Stop “Proving” and Start Improving. The comments after the blog are also well worth reading. 

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