'Evaluating in Packs' & Sector Led Benchmarking

John Knell

John Knell, 6 February 2017

Culture Counts’ cultural clients, both old and new, are starting to act in interesting ways around shared approaches to evaluation and benchmarking.

For example, Culture Counts is working with a cluster of organisations in the North West of England to help them dig deeper into their data. Comparing the profile of their audiences against the wider national population can identify whether different audience segments - defined by income, employment, education, barriers to service provision - are reacting to work differently. (They are, by the way - and we will say more about that in a forthcoming report to be published in March!)

What is also becoming noticeable is that new subscribers to Culture Counts are starting to emerge in clusters. This includes groups of organisations who have co-produced a show; producing organisations that are touring work across a range of collaborating venues; or consortiums of small local governments working together to achieve regional outcomes. Using Culture Counts enables these organisations to ‘evaluate in packs’, sharing their evaluation approaches and results with each other in real-time through their dashboards.

It is precisely this evaluation approach that unlocks real added value from the use of standardised metrics to measure audience and peer reactions. Sector led benchmarking is particularly valuable as it allows organisations who are working with shared aims (i.e. their creative intentions are similar) to share their results and benchmark meaningfully with each other.

This sector led approach is vital as it avoids inappropriate ‘apples and pears’ comparisons between the work of hugely diverse cultural organisations. Culture Counts is very excited about supporting sensitive comparison and benchmarking analysis, informed by the clever use of metadata. With the sector leading the way and creating self-selecting clusters, evaluations can be shared and data insights generated on the basis of their matching purpose, intention, scale, and context.

Ever thought of evaluating in a pack? Or sharing your results with like-minded organisations? We would urge you to embrace the use of standardised metrics, identify your meaningful peers, and start sharing and generating greater insights for yourself and the sector. Why would you want to keep your good evaluation practice to yourself?  

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