Animating Democracy’s books examine the role of artists and cultural institutions as catalysts, conveners, and initiators of civic dialogue and engagement efforts around important civic issues. They highlight best practices and outcomes from projects implemented by 36 cultural organizations that participated in Animating Democracy from 2000 to 2004, as well as challenges and complexities in this work. The series offers valuable insight gleaned from the work and voices of pioneering artists, innovative cultural leaders, and committed civic partners.

Case Studies

Case studies provide in-depth portraits and analyses of arts and civic engagement and dialogue projects, supported by Animating Democracy’s first phase of research and its Arts & Civic Engagement Impact Initiative. They offer detailed description of the civic issue addressed by the project, civic and cultural context, project goals, design, arts/humanities components, and artistic and engagement methodologies. Case studies also offer analysis of impact and extrapolate lessons learned and issues raised about the principles, practices, and philosophical underpinnings of arts- and humanities-based engagement work.

Papers, Research Reports, Essays, and Articles

Papers, research reports, essaysm and articles written and commissioned by Animating Democracy explore philosophical, practical, and aesthetic dimensions of civically engaged arts and humanities work and arts for social change.

Aesthetic Perspectives

A framework to enhance understanding and evaluation of creative work at the intersection of arts and civic engagement, community development, and justice.

11 artistic attributes address the potency of creative expression to embody and motivate change. Aesthetic Perspectives aims to inform and inspire reflection, dialogue, and rich description in use by artists, funders, evaluators, educators, critics, presenters, programmers, curators, and audiences.

The Framework

  • elevates aesthetics in civically and socially engaged art
  • helps describe and assess the work
  • expands criteria for considering aesthetics in Arts for Change
  • addresses historical domination of Euro-American aesthetic standards
  • promotes deeper appreciation of the rigor required for effective creative work

Full Framework

The Full Framework includes an introduction that explores rationale and context and the terms aesthetics and Arts for Change. For each of the 11 aesthetic attributes, you’ll find:

  • a pointed description relating the attribute to Arts for Change
  • reflective questions to guide consideration of the attribute in Arts for Change work
  • illuminating examples of creative projects that exhibit the attribute

Download the PDF from the NAAPPD

Short Take

Offers a summary of the 11 attributes and rational and context for the framework.

E-Book | Download the PDF from the NAAPD

Diving into Racial Equity: The MAP Fund’s Exploration

By Vanessa Whang

In 2015, the MAP Fund undertook a deep examination of one of its foundational priorities: racial equity in arts and culture grantmaking. In this case study by Vanessa Whang, follow MAP’s layered inquiry to examine biases in its: application platform, guidelines and requirements, applicant advisory supports and communications, and adjudication processes. Learn how MAP is incorporating the framework, Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change to help mitigate aesthetic bias in proposal review, and what an evaluation revealed. Published by Animating Democracy in collaboration with the MAP Fund.

E-Book | Download the PDF from the NAAPD

Pittsburgh Artists Working in Community: A Case Study of Aesthetic Perspectives in Action

By Susannah Laramee Kidd

As Pittsburgh’s Office of Public Art (OPA) supports artists working in the public realm through residencies and cross-sector partnerships, this case study explores how OPA has used Aesthetic Perspectives as: an adaptable evaluation tool, a content-rich guide for artist inquiry and exchange, and an organizational aid to guide selection panels to discuss aesthetic qualities and equity.

Download the PDF from the NAAPD

Written by respected peers, Companion guides for: Funders, Evaluators, Educators, Curators, Performing Artists, and Teaching Artists offer ideas and insights to help these users apply the framework to address their needs and interests.


By M. Christine Dwyer, RMC Research

Learn how to use the framework to: frame program mission, design application materials, guide processes for proposal review including panelist guidelines, and evaluate grantee outcomes.

Download the PDF from the NAAPPD

Evaluators / Researchers

By Susannah Laramee Kidd, evaluator and cultural policy researcher

Learn how to use the framework to: frame questions that help define program purposes and guide assessment of aesthetics in arts and social justice work.

Download the PDF from the NAAPPD


By Bob Leonard, Professor of Theatre, Virginia Tech

Learn how to use the framework to: guide written analysis, shape curricula, and focus areas of study.

Download the PDF from the NAAPPD


By Sara Reisman, Chief Curator/Director of National Academician Affairs, National Academy of Design

Learn how to use the framework to: evaluate the aesthetics of an exhibition, develop interpretive materials and dialogue activities, and communicate aesthetic dimensions of Arts for Change work.

Download the PDF from the NAAPPD

Performing Artists

By Mark Valdez, theater artist/organizer

Learn how to use the framework to: spark creative ideas, set priorities in planning, frame artistic intent, describe work, aid self-assessment, and enhance dialogue with communities, partners, and supporters.

Download the PDF from the NAAPPD

Teaching Artists

By Dennie Palmer Wolf and Jeannette Rodríguez Píneda

Learn how to use the framework to: engage young people in art-making, conversations, and reflection informed by the values of Arts for Change; and provide an expanded set of qualities of well-designed and implemented Arts for Change projects and artworks for use in program design, implementation, and evaluation.

Download the PDF from the NAAPPD

A poster for each of the 11 aesthetic attributes offers a visual tool describing the attribute’s relationship to social justice and sample questions for use in teaching/training, funding panel processes, and to guide dialogues and discussions of Arts for Change work.

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Communal Meaning
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Cultural Integrity
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Emotional Experience
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Sensory Experience
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Aesthetic Perspectives was developed by artists and allied funders and evaluators who participated in the Evaluation Learning Lab led by Animating Democracy at Americans for the Arts, in partnership with the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Arts x Culture x Social Justice Network. Activation of the framework was supported by Hemera Foundation.

Measuring Social Impact

This online storehouse of resources is aimed to help you assess and communicate what difference you’re making in your arts for change work

  • Looking for ways to build evidence of your social impact?  Check out the Continuum of Impact guide to express common social and civic outcomes.  See how to translate outcomes to indicators--evidence you can measure. Learn different data collection strategies including how to effectively collect and analyze qualitative data.

  • Just getting started? Explore key terms, foundational values, and concrete options for beginning your evaluation plan in A Place to Start.

  • Interested in stories and examples that describe how real arts projects have been evaluated? Browse hand-picked evaluation resources, tools, and frameworks in Evaluation in Action.

Continuum of Impact Guide

Animating Democracy’s Continuum of Impact guide defines six families of social and civic outcomes that arts practitioners and their partners commonly aspire to and achieve through creative work. These outcome families, along with related indicators, articulate ways the arts contribute to making change happen.

Continuum of Impact PDF


As a practical resource, the Continuum of Impact can help you:

  • Articulate clear and realistic outcomes to guide program and project design.
  • Define indicators or evidence of change that can be observed and measured.
  • Craft an evaluation plan to collect and use data to substantiate and report outcomes and impact.
  • Consider which data collection methods will help you collect evidence of change.

You'll also find:

  • definitions of the outcomes in each family
  • types of indicators
  • a case study including sample outcomes, indicators, and evaluation plan.
  • downloadable, writeable PDF worksheets to outline your own outcomes, indicators and evaluation plan.

A Place to Start

Just what is this call to measure social impact? Maybe you’re wondering, what exactly is meant by social impact and why it’s important to measure.  Perhaps you need a jump-start creating an evaluation plan that’s useful to you and your partners and that feels in sync with the core values of your arts-based engagement work. Here is your place to get started!

There are many terms used to describe the kinds of change that arts and cultural efforts strive to make in communities and society. Within different fields these terms may have their own particular meaning, and there is overlap in them to be sure. Here, IMPACT offers descriptions to help differentiate these kinds of change as well as terms describing arts and culture.

Reviewing these concepts may help you distinguish and express how your cultural work is oriented to making change.

Terms of Social Change

Social Change

Social change is a broad umbrella to encompass a range of typical social and civic outcomes from increased awareness and understanding, to attitudinal change, to increased civic participation, the building of public will, to policy change that corrects injustice. Acknowledging that social change must start with the individual, the term emphasizes impact that happens at a broader institutional, group, or community level.

Social Justice

Social justice is structural change that increases opportunity for those who are least well off politically, economically, and socially.  Social justice is grounded in the values and ideals of equity, access, and inclusion for all members of society, particularly for poor communities and communities of color that historically and structurally have experienced social inequities.  Those who work for social justice push to uncover the underlying causes of inequity and seek systemic change in institutions and policies as well as socially upheld behavioral norms that foster fair treatment and share of benefits.  Social justice encourages change to come from those communities that are most affected by social inequity, involving people most affected in working on the problems and decisions.  It employs a combination of tactics such as advocacy related to policy, grassroots organizing, litigation, and communications.  This definition is drawn, in part, from Social Justice Grantmaking: A Report on Foundation Trends (2005) based on a working group of funders and practitioners convened by the Independent Sector and Foundation Center.

Many definitions of social justice refer to fair treatment and impartial distribution or allocation of benefits afforded to all individuals and groups in society. IMPACT Arts sees “social change” as the broader umbrella and “social justice” as more particular, reflecting policies, laws, etc. as well as socially upheld, behavioral norms that foster fair treatment and share of benefits.

Social Activism

Social activism refers to action to make change that ensures inclusion, equity, fairness, and justice. It is intentional action to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change.

Civic engagement

Civic engagement refers to the many ways in which people participate in civic, community, and political life and, by doing so, express their engaged citizenship. From proactively becoming better informed to participating in public dialogue on issues, from volunteering to voting, from community organizing to political advocacy, the defining characteristic of active civic engagement is the commitment to participate and contribute to the improvement of one’s community, neighborhood, and nation. Civic engagement may be either a measure or a means of social change, depending on the context and intent of efforts.

Craig McGarvey describes human, social, and community capital as three interconnected and measurable outcomes of civic engagement work. Human capital is the development of individual potential with measures of acquired skills, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. Social capital is the development of networks of human and institutional relationships, with measures of depth, breadth, diversity, and durability. Community capital is the development of positive change in communities, with measures of problems solved or prevented, policies improved, systems and institutions made more accountable. (Civic Participation and the Promise of Democracy, 2004)

IMPACT emphasizes arts and culture projects and programs that are intentional in fostering civic engagement. However, arts participation itself is sometimes considered a form and even an indicator of civic engagement. For two discussions of arts as civic engagement, see: “Civic Engagement and the Arts: Issues of Conceptualization and Measurement” by Mark J. Stern and Susan C. Seifert and “Making the Case for Skid Row Culture” by Maria Rosario Jackson and John Malpede.

Civic dialogue

Civic Dialogue is dialogue in which people explore matters of civic importance and consider the dimensions of a civic or social issue, policy, or decisions of consequence to their lives, communities, and society. Engaging in civic dialogue is a form of civic engagement.  Sometimes civic or public dialogue is considered an important end in itself. In this context, dialogue is defined as two or more parties with differing viewpoints working toward common understanding in an open-ended, most often, face-to-face format. In dialogue:  Multiple and possibly conflicting perspectives are included rather than promoting a single point of view. Empathy and understanding are promoted.  Assumptions are brought out into the open. Suspension of judgment is encouraged in order to foster understanding and break down obstacles.  Equality among participants is established to honor all voices and help build trust and safety for deep dialogue.  From Everyday Democracy and The Magic of Dialogue by Daniel Yankelovich.

Community building

Community building has been defined in various ways. It may refer to the process of building relationships that helps to cohere community members around common purpose, identity, and a sense of belonging which may lead to social or community capital. A variety of practices can promote community building such as: potlucks, block parties, book clubs, commemorative events, festivals, artmaking projects, and community construction projects. The Aspen Institute describes community building similarly to the concept of civic engagement—a process of improving the quality of life in a neighborhood or community by strengthening the capacity of residents, associations, and organizations to identify priorities and opportunities and to work, individually and collectively, to foster and sustain positive neighborhood or community change.

Social capital

The building of social capital is a common outcome named in arts and social change work.  Social capital is the collective value of all “social networks” (who people know) and the inclinations to do things for each other that arise from these networks (“norms of reciprocity”). Specific benefits that flow from social networks include trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation. Bonding networks that connect people who are similar sustain particularized (in-group) reciprocity. Bridging networks that connect individuals who are diverse sustain generalized reciprocity. (From Robert Putnam's initiative, the Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.)

Community development

In community development, the economic, social, and physical dimensions of community are considered. Community development agencies often focus on ensuring low and mixed-income housing, job training or workforce development, commercial real estate development, and small business start-up. In broader definitions, such as one offered by, they may also aim to advance youth development, health, recreation, human service, cultural, and other community goals. Community development seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing these groups with the skills and resources they need to effect change in their own communities.

Community development

In community development, the economic, social, and physical dimensions of community are considered. Community development agencies often focus on ensuring low and mixed-income housing, job training or workforce development, commercial real estate development, and small business start-up. In broader definitions, such as one offered by, they may also aim to advance youth development, health, recreation, human service, cultural, and other community goals. Community development seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing these groups with the skills and resources they need to effect change in their own communities.

Cultural vitality

Cultural vitality is the evidence of creating, disseminating, validating, and supporting arts and culture as a dimension of everyday life in communities. From Maria Rosario Jackson, “Cultural Vitality in Communities: Interpretation and Indicators”: Culture is an important dimension of civic life, but culture is not often considered for its civic value. Negotiation of cultural priorities, especially for disenfranchised cultural groups wanting to stake claim in the public sphere, has civic import not only for these groups, but also for the community at large. Issues of cultural preservation, equity, and representation are important in and of themselves, but are also of concern as they link to growth and development, economics, tourism, public funding, and other civic concerns.

Terms of Arts, Culture, and Cultural Change


Art encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression. Animating Democracy frames a broad definition of the arts to embrace all artistic disciplines—visual arts, music, dance, theater, literature, poetry, spoken word, media arts, as well as the humanities and interdisciplinary forms. Art practice can occur along a continuum from amateur to professional and informal to formal. Art encompasses community-based and culturally specific expressions as well as fine art and popular culture. Art activity that aims for social change may originate from or be developed from a range of creative sources. (Civic Dialogue, Arts & Culture: Findings from Animating Democracy, 2005)


Animating Democracy describes culture as a set of practices and expressions (including language, behavior, ritual, values, and art) shared by a group of people.  Culture is distinguished from the social constructs of race and the national basis of ethnicity.  Hip hop culture, for example, crosses race and ethnicity but reflects a cohesive creative practice and expression. (Civic Dialogue, Arts & Culture: Findings from Animating Democracy, 2005)

Community cultural development

Community cultural development describes the work of artist-organizers and other community members collaborating to express identity, concerns, and aspirations through the arts and communications media.  It is a process that simultaneously builds individual mastery and collective cultural capacity while contributing to positive social change.  This definition from Arlene Goldbard, (New Creative Community: The Art of Cultural Development, 2006) reflects a field of practice as well as an aspired outcome.

Cultural democracy

The Institute for Cultural Democracy describes the concept of cultural democracy as a set of related commitments: protecting and promoting cultural diversity, and the right to culture for everyone in our society and around the world; encouraging active participation in community cultural life; enabling people to participate in cultural policy decisions that affect the quality of our cultural lives; and assuring fair and equitable access to cultural resources and support.

Community engagement

The arts community has tended to use community engagement to mean the deliberate and active ways arts organizations engage constituents and publics in order to align organizational goals, programs, and services with community interests and needs. Community engagement might take the form of assessment processes, working with advisory groups, and ways of gathering community input to develop more relevant and meaningful programs. Another meaning of community engagement relates to locating programs in community settings and collaborating with community partners to foster participation of targeted community members in arts and cultural programs and activities. This emphasis on engaging community in the activities and planning of the arts organization—certainly for the benefit of community members as well as increasing the arts organization’s relevance—is distinguished from civic engagement or social change which aims for community change through the arts.

Cultural and community leaders want to understand how arts programs are moving the needle to achieve intended social or civic outcomes, but often struggle to measure and make the case for the value of arts in civic engagement. They are increasingly asked to provide concrete evidence for how investments in arts-based civic engagement lead to social change. Although anecdotal evidence is common, many believe that quantifiable data is needed to demonstrate the contribution art makes to social change. 

As arts organizations try to meet this challenge, they are often pressed to define what is meant by “civic” or “social” impact, whose standards to apply, what evidence to look for, and what to document and track. They wonder how to gauge hard-to-measure outcomes such as shifts in attitude and whether they can attribute civic outcomes to their arts-based civic engagement efforts, exclusive of other factors. Recognizing that some outcomes might not be felt until well after a project concludes, many ask what cultural organizations realistically can do to track incremental change. With limited staff and financial resources to support the demands of serious evaluation, efforts are often constrained, even with the best of intentions.

Public and private funders of arts and of civic engagement and social justice likewise report that they are under greater scrutiny to demonstrate the impact of their investments. Civic leaders and policy makers who have the power to include the arts in civic initiatives and to allocate resources need to be convinced. Without more concrete evidence, the arts’ full contribution can be undervalued if not missed entirely. 

The tension at the heart of these conversations is that, while there is a desire for concrete metrics to measure social change, the human, social, and community outcomes of arts-based civic engagement cannot always be quantified, nor are they easily or cost-effectively measured. 

Some of the same values that underpin arts-based civic engagement are important to consider in evaluating it. This section highlights the importance of: 

Valuing Context

Context can influence success. Artists and cultural organizers who are skilled in arts-based civic engagement consider context in designing and assessing the impact of their work. Factors that can influence the effects of arts and cultural programs aiming for social change include: 

  • economics
  • people involved
  • timing
  • resources available
  • artistic capacities
  • cultural norms
  • belief systems
  • history
  • political environment

As Stern and Seifert point out, “In some cases an environment might provide particularly fertile ground for a particular intervention. Efforts to engage a community over issues of race, for example, are more likely to bear fruit in a community that has already begun such a discussion than in one where it has been suppressed.” Evaluation efforts need to consider contextual factors. 

Documenting and assessing contextual variables will help others to determine the relevance of a particular project or approach to another community or situation. Contextual variables that are important to attend to in describing findings include: size and nature of community; demographics of community; cohesion/polarization within the community; history of/related community arts initiatives; and position/history of sponsoring partner(s). 

Valuing Story

No story without numbers and no numbers without story. So goes one familiar evaluation adage. In a nutshell, this captures the value of striking the right balance of quantitative and qualitative evidence based on the change you want to understand.

Cultural practitioners already know the power of story in giving voice to and humanizing issues, encouraging participation by linking the personal to the public, and providing deep documentation of arts and social change activity and effects. Although funders and civic leaders may demand “metrics” (or quantifiable measures of change), many can also readily cite the one story told when the board finally “got it” or a city councilor truly understood the impact of the work.

Qualitative data is therefore very valuable. To enhance the credibility of what is often considered subjective data, the job is to learn systematic ways to gather and analyze qualitative evidence. Qualitative information can be quantified, increasing its value among those who like metrics. Ethnographic and other evaluation approaches offer consistent methods to collect, organize, and interpret information.

It is still important to determine what change can and should be quantified to offer concrete evidence of social impact. Researchers and evaluators advise that an assessment is most helpful and convincing when qualitative and quantitative measures are mutually supportive. 

Valuing Participation

Participation is a fundamental value of arts-based civic engagement work. Principles of democracy and equity, and a valuing of stakeholders’ knowledge and experience guide cultural workers to engage stakeholders in all facets of the projects they devise.

In the same spirit, people who do this work highly value involving those closest to the issues involved in defining success and establishing evaluation processes that are meaningful and useful to them. They are sensitive to not impose evaluation on program participants and partners. They involve stakeholders in designing evaluation processes that are respectful and appropriate to cultural and community norms, and engaging stakeholders in conducting evaluation and interpreting and reporting findings. Participating in evaluation can animate the process of developing and implementing arts and social change projects from beginning to end. Participatory action research is a widely applied methodology that supports these values. Find out more about the Principles of Participatory Evaluation here.

A Values Guide to Evaluating Arts & Social Change

This tool, developed in 2015 with members of Animating Democracy’s Evaluation Learning Lab, offers values to guide evaluation approaches that are appropriately aligned to assess arts and social change work. These include: Shared Learning and Understanding, Reciprocity, Collaboration, Context, Equity, Right-sized expectations, Appropriate metrics, Ethics, Adequate resourcing.

Planning and evaluation go hand in hand. Evaluating impact begins by imagining what social change might look like and how a project intends to effect that change. Being conscious of evaluation interests while you’re developing a program helps: 

  • clarify the purpose of evaluating
  • decide the evaluation approach to take
  • anticipate kinds of data to collect
  • determine whom you may need to enlist to conduct or assist with evaluation
  • assess resources needed

A Place to Start offers three options for getting started on your evaluation plans with attention to concerns related to evaluating for social impact: 

Answer 5 Basic Questions to Focus Your Evaluation

If you’re trying to focus your evaluation plan to measure what matters, these five basic questions can help you clarify, sharpen, and prioritize!

  1. What’s the purpose of evaluating?
  2. Who needs to be involved in evaluating?
  3. Which of your intended outcomes can you observe and therefore measure?
  4. Which approach to evaluation is best suited to what you want to learn?
  5. Who conducts evaluation? 
1.  What’s the purpose of evaluating?

Understand social change.

Thinking about what outcomes you are focusing on, and what will offer meaningful evidence of change sharpens the direction of your evaluation efforts. If you’re most interested in understanding the social change that occurs and how your efforts may have contributed to such change, then outcomes evaluation (also called summative evaluation) is where your evaluation should focus. 

Improve practice.

Civically and socially engaged art by nature is rooted in process as much as, if not more than, product. Evaluation can help you understand the efficacy of implementation strategies and creative methodologies. It can help you know how art “moved the needle” to effect certain change. It can help clarify capacity needs and issues, sharpen roles and enhance partnerships, among other things.

If you’re most concerned about improving practice or programs or understanding effectiveness of program design and implementation, you will want to consider process evaluation (also called formative evaluation). Process evaluation can help answer questions about how change occurs, what needs to change, and what contextual factors impacted the work. 

Be accountable.

Whether it’s being accountable to your own organization, the goals of a partnership, the people you’re serving, or scrutiny from public and private funders, demands are increasing for greater accountability in reporting results. Ultimately, though, the intrinsic reasons to evaluate are to continually improve practice and programs in order to effect social change. 

2.  Who needs to be involved in evaluating?

In arts and social change work, there are often many different people who have a stake in evaluation, e.g: participating artists, partners, sponsors, funders, participants, the public, and program staff and board.

The scope of evaluation could be huge if you were to try to evaluate for all interested parties’ purposes!  It’s important to ask: Which stakeholders’ interests are most important to focus on?

Different stakeholders may want to learn different things from evaluation and value different kinds of evidence. Engaging stakeholders in defining the purpose and focus of evaluation helps to ensure that you measure what matters and also helps determine suitable evaluation approaches, for example, an approach that is sensitive to a specific cultural group. Stakeholders may also be involved in designing or testing instruments, actually conducting evaluation interviews or focus groups, as well as interpreting results. Participatory evaluation is an approach that is grounded in involving stakeholders in these ways. 

3.  Which of your intended outcomes can you observe and therefore measure?

If you can observe it, you can measure it. So say many evaluators and researchers. Some changes are easier to observe and measure than others. The challenge is to select the most important and valuable outcome(s) to learn about and those for which you are able to measure change.

The Metropolitan Group, a service agency that supports social change endeavors, has outlined a useful Measuring What Matters framework that divides measures of change between those that measure action and those that measure result.

Action measures are those that seek to quantify inputs (time, resources, activities you put in) and outputs (what you create, such as collaborations, donations, news stories, community engagement activities). 

Result measures quantify the outcomes (what results) and ultimately impact (what difference you make)—in a program to eradicate food insecurity, an outcome could be measured in the number of families moved beyond food insecurity. An ultimate impact would be healthier children and families, and even stronger communities. 

You’ll need to ask how easy or difficult it will be to gather the data you need; where information already exists; whether benchmark data exists. The Metropolitan Group advises to “walk before you run.” Based on capacity and resources, you may only be able to focus on action measures, often considered the basics and easily measurable.

You may need to invest resources and enlist professionals in order to address result measures. These are typically harder to obtain but likely of greater value to understanding actual social change.

For examples of typical social and civic outcomes of arts-based work and examples of related indicators that measure such results, explore Animating Democracy’s Continuum of Impact guide.  

For more on defining what is feasible while planning for evaluation, read: Shifting Expectations: An Urban Planner’s Reflections on Evaluation of Community-Based Arts, by Maria Rosario Jackson 

4.  Which approach to evaluation is best suited to what you want to learn?

Outcomes-based evaluation. Probably the most familiar approach to evaluation, outcomes-based evaluation requires that you define the results you’re after and how you’ll get there through your activities. This is often done by articulating a theory of change and creating a logic model that diagrams the relationship between goals, resources, activities, and intended outcomes. For more on outcomes-based evaluation, check out: 

Making Measures Work for You: Outcomes and Evaluation, by Craig McGarvey, published by GrantCraft. 

Developmental evaluation. Practitioners of arts and social change work note that outcomes cannot and sometimes should not be predetermined, but instead allowed to emerge as a project evolves. Developmental evaluation is used when goals and outcomes are not pre-set but rather evolve as learning occurs. It supports continuous progress and rapid response to complex situations with multiple variables. The evaluator is often an integral member of the program design team.  Developmental evaluation acknowledges that a program might be only one factor contributing to change and is designed to capture the dynamics of systems, interdependencies, and emergent interconnections. It is best suited for initiatives that are at an initial stage of development or undergoing significant change and can benefit from careful tracking of the process. Developmental evaluation is especially appropriate for organizations and programs focused on innovation and social change.  For more on developmental evaluation, check out:

A Developmental Evaluation Primer by Jamie A.A. Gamble 

Ethnographic evaluation collects qualitative data. Ethnographic evaluation emphasizes listening carefully and observing real-life actions to understand how people make sense of their lives. As a tool for evaluation, ethnographic approaches favor firsthand observation, writing and documentation of stories, and community dialogue. This data is collected through experiences of the evaluator in the field, side by side with participants.  Ethnographic data attempts to “measure” what is meaningful to people; how they see themselves in relationship to the social dynamics that surround them. It’s important to note that qualitative data can be gathered and interpreted systematically to have credibility. For more on ethnographic evaluation, read: 

Two-Way Mirror:  Ethnography as a Way to Assess Civic Impact of Arts-based Engagement in Tucson, AZ, by Maribel Alvarez 

Getting Inside the Story:  Ethnographic Approaches to Evaluation, by Craig McGarvey and Toby Volkman

Participatory evaluation is a process that involves key participants in planning and implementing the evaluation, including setting goals, developing research questions, interpreting data, making decisions, and using the information.  The participatory approach is designed to increase participation in and ownership of collective inquiry on the part of stakeholders, as well as the usefulness of the information gathered. For more on Participatory Evaluation, check out:

Participatory Action Research (PAR) Approach to Planning, Reflection, and Documentation

Participatory Action Research: Involving “All the Players” in Evaluation and Change by Craig McGarvey

5.  Who conducts evaluation?

A common question is whether you need an outside evaluator.  In deciding whether internal staff or an outside evaluator will conduct evaluation, Craig Dreeszen in Fundamentals of Arts Management observes: 

Often program managers implement evaluation of their programs. Internal evaluations have the advantages of economy, first-hand knowledge, and expedience. In addition, evaluation skills are cultivated within the organization, and lessons learned can be implemented immediately. A disadvantage is that self-evaluation presents the risk of bias. An evaluation consultant may be perceived by funders and other stakeholders as more reliable and unbiased. This is more costly, but may yield more credible results.

The choice is not necessarily either/or. It’s possible for external evaluators to consult with staff and key stakeholders in their design and data collection. And staff may opt to contract with an outside evaluator to help shape evaluation, create instruments, and facilitate discussions.

More and more, the notion is being challenged that an outside evaluator is the ideal for all circumstances. The complexity of arts and social change work suggests the value of multiple perspectives by various stakeholders. There can be an advantage for evaluators to have knowledge of the community, the program, and even direct experience in the program itself. 

There are times when outside evaluation expertise is important, if not essential. Longitudinal studies that follow a population over time to understand change may require outside support in order to find and track original respondents and then compare and analyze data. Community mapping can determine correlations between cultural engagement and social/civic outcomes. Professional researchers can, for example, gather or provide extant data regarding ethnic or social class profiles or indicators of neighborhood well-being. Their expertise is important in credibly analyzing possible links and correlations between such outcomes and cultural activity.

For external expertise, cultural organizers can:

  • Identify evaluators through peer networks or the American Association of Evaluation
  • Partner with regional data and mapping centers based at: colleges and universities, urban or regional planning agencies, public agencies, or foundation centers.

To learn more about reasons for and ways to work with outside professionals to gauge social impact, check out:

Civic Engagement and the Arts: Issues of Conceptualization and Measurement, by Mark Stern and Susan Seifert, Social Impact of the Arts, University of Pennsylvania. 

Articulate a Theory of Change

A theory of change is a valuable starting place if you want to understand the relationship between the social problem you are addressing, the change you want to make, and the strategies you’re using to achieve the results you want.

What is a theory of change?

What’s its value in evaluating social impact?

Featured resources

What is a theory of change?

Creating a theory of change helps you to understand and convey the way your program works. It encourages cultural workers and key stakeholders to collectively play out and test their assumptions about how a program operates and contributes to social change. It isn’t exactly a program plan, but it helps you design more realistic program plans and evaluation. According to the excellent resource, Mapping Change: Using a Theory of Change to Guide Planning and Evaluation, written by Craig McGarvey and published by GrantCraft, a theory of change takes a wide view of a desired change and helps you to articulate exactly what propositions and assumptions you’re testing, and therefore what you should be assessing in your evaluation plan. 

Drawing from Mapping Change, the term is used to describe "anything from a broadly stated outline of change to a detailed map. The term logic model is often used interchangeably with theory of change, although some distinguish a logic model as a flow chart that explicitly diagrams relationships between resources (or inputs), activities, and results." 

What’s its value in evaluating social impact?

A theory of change is a valuable starting place if you want to understand the relationship between the social problem you are addressing, the change you want to make, and the strategies you’re using to achieve the results you want.  It usually entails thinking through all the steps along a path toward a desired change. You identify the preconditions that will enable (and possibly inhibit) change, listing the activities that will produce positive conditions, and explain why those activities are likely to work. Often, people start by articulating the desired outcomes first and work backward through a series of assumptions about the work. Others begin with the preconditions.

For arts and social change work, a theory of change can help you:

  • focus on conditions or context that can sharpen the articulation of outcomes 
  • narrow and specify outcomes and strategies that seem too broad or are difficult to define or quantify
  • see what’s possible and not possible to achieve with your arts-based program or project 
  • think about what inputs might be needed—yours and others—and when/where your input(s) might be most catalytic or strategic 
  • examine whether or not your intervention will have a meaningful or powerful enough effect 
  • avoid straying off course when unexpected events or inputs emerge
  • practice evaluative thinking! 
Example:  Flint Youth Theatre

 Flint Youth Theatre (FYT) worked through a logic model to help plan and evaluate …My Soul to Take, a project that engaged community members in dialogue about the issue of youth violence.

Preconditions: A year after a fatal elementary school shooting in Flint, community efforts were fragmented and the community was at somewhat of a standstill around the issue. Flint Youth Theatre had a track record of social topic plays but had not expanded its potential as a forum or catalyst for broad community dialogue. The community was at a point of needing to move beyond grief and healing toward action. 

Theory of Change: Looking at FYT’s strengths alongside those of other community agencies, change would begin by coalescing agencies and community-based leaders to better understanding the causes and effects of youth violence. Theater-based dialogue and the new play would serve to galvanize the community, unite agencies, and involve community members to define meaningful actions.

The logic model was useful in clarifying this theory of change. As a planning tool, it helped FYT to focus and limit the project’s many possible programmatic directions. It also helped FYT to consider critical context (or conditions) such as pending statewide gun legislation and to identify civic objectives it was best positioned to effect.  For example, FYT decided to pursue coalescing local agencies but not to pursue activism related to the gun legislation.  With focused goals and activities, the logic model guided evaluation choices.

Featured Theory of Change Resources

Developing a Logic Model.  From the Arts & Civic Engagement Tool Kit, Animating Democracy and Americans for the Arts, 2008.  This tool provides an example and a simple exercise for creating a logic model. 

Mapping Change: Using a Theory of Change to Guide Planning and Evaluation, by Craig McGarvey. Published by GrantCraft, 2006.  This brief guide explains why grantmakers use theories of change to guide their questioning, unearth assumptions that underlie their work, establish common language, and develop strong action plans. Contributors to the guide also describe how a theory of change sets the stage for evaluation by clarifying goals, strategies, and milestones.

Theory of Change website.  This comprehensive website offers a wide array of background information, tools, and sample documents that can help practitioners and others get started with theory of change.  A collaborative project of ActKnowledge and the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change. 

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook.  W. K. Kellogg Foundation.  For those with little or no evaluation experience, and without the time or resources to learn more, this handbook can help project staff to plan and conduct an evaluation with the assistance of an external evaluator.

Design for Success! The Arts & Civic Engagement Tool Kit

Whether your starting point is art or an issue, you’ll want to design your project for its greatest possible social or civic outcomes. The Animating Democracy’s Arts & Civic Engagement Tool Kit offers both arts and community organizers practical tools to plan and implement effective and meaningful arts-based civic engagement projects.

Selected elements include:

Imagine/Define/Design: Planning Arts-Based Civic Engagement Projects

Worksheets containing thoughtful questions, clarifying sidebars, and examples to help define a project’s core artistic elements and civic or social concerns.

Developing a Logic Model

A development tool to help cultural organizations plan, define, and evaluate arts-based civic engagement projects.

Visit the Americans for the Arts Bookstore to order the full Arts & Civic Engagement Tool Kit.

Learn key evaluation concepts and terms as they are defined and used on this site through this glossary, accessible by clicking on this link.

Evaluation in Action Resources

These tools and frameworks offer diverse information about indicators. This list has been assembled from many sources and fields and annotated by evaluator Suzanne Callahan of Callahan Consulting for the Arts.

Tools, Webinars, and Blog Salons

Across the country, local governments are partnering with artists to bring creative fresh thinking and creative practices to improve local government. Together, both are building new capacities to address community goals and the way government works. Animating Democracy joined A Blade of Grass to develop an accessible, practical guide intended to help municipal agency staff, artists, and arts agency leaders navigate such collaborations and to achieve positive and powerful artistic and community results.

Drawing on the experience and perspectives of artists, municipal staff, and intermediaries who have made their partnerships work for the public good, the Municipal-Artist Partnership Guide:

  • introduces a spectrum of partnership/program MODELS
  • synthesizes guiding PRINCIPLES, VALUES, and BEST PRACTICES
  • features the voices of partners on COMMON CHALLENGES and ways to approach them
  • offers PROFILES of partnerships, TOOLS, MODEL DOCUMENTS, and PRINT and VIDEO RESOURCES from a number of remarkable partnerships
  • testifies to the VALUE-ADD and IMPACT of engaging artists in municipal settings

Check out the free Municipal-Artist Partnership Guide.

Supported by the National Endowment for the Arts/Our Town and the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation

The Arts and Civic Engagement Tool Kit features customizable worksheets containing thoughtful questions, clarifying sidebars, and examples to help users plan, design, and partner to create meaningful engagement activities. In the online tool kit, you’ll find:

  • A context for understanding the possibilities at the intersection of art and civic life;
  • Definitions of common terms and diagrams to situate arts-based civic engagement work in a broader context of arts and community engagement;
  • Imagine, Define, Design—a series of worksheets designed to help users define a project’s core artistic elements and civic or social concern;
  • Worksheets on forging effective partnerships;
  • A framework to create meaningful dialogue at arts events; and
  • A compilation of civic engagement resources including organizations, websites, and publications.

Click here for the Arts & Civic Engagement Toolkit. Free to members; $5 Non-members

Developed in 2015 with members of Animating Democracy’s Evaluation Learning Lab, A Values Guide to Evaluating Arts & Social Change Work outlines values to guide evaluation approaches that are appropriately aligned to assess arts and social change work. These include: Shared Learning and Understanding, Reciprocity, Collaboration, Context, Equity, Right-sized expectations, Appropriate Metrics, Ethics, Adequate Resourcing.

Click here for the free guide.

Animating Democracy’s Continuum of Impact guide defines six families of social and civic outcomes that arts practitioners and their partners commonly aspire to and achieve through creative work. These outcome families, along with related indicators, articulate ways the arts contribute to making change happen. Downloadable, writeable PDF worksheets help you:

  • Articulate clear and realistic outcomes to guide program and project design.
  • Define indicators or evidence of change that can be observed and measured.
  • Craft an evaluation plan to collect and use data to substantiate and report outcomes and impact.
  • Consider which data collection methods will help you collect evidence of change.

Click here for the free Continuum and more on a practical Place to Start evaluating social and civic outcomes.

Aesthetic Perspectives is a framework to enhance understanding and evaluation of creative work at the intersection of arts and civic engagement, community development, and justice. 11 artistic attributes address the potency of creative expression to embody and motivate change. The Framework expands criteria for considering aesthetics in Arts for Change and addresses historical domination of Euro-American aesthetic standards. For each of the 11 aesthetic attributes, you’ll find:

  • a pointed description relating the attribute to Arts for Change
  • reflective questions to guide consideration of the attribute in Arts for Change work
  • illuminating examples of creative projects that exhibit the attribute

Click here for the free framework plus Companion Guides for performing artists, funders, evaluators, educators, curators, and teaching artists, and case studies by those who have applied Aesthetic Perspectives in their work.

Through Americans for the Arts’ ArtsU and with partner organizations in the field, Animating Democracy has offered a wide range of practical and thought-provoking webinars and virtual events on a range of arts for change topics. Here is an archive of webinar recordings on past topics of interest.

Animating Democracy: REFLECTING FORWARD

A fall 2022 three-part series in partnership with Art2Action. Livestreamed on HowlRound

The REFLECTING FORWARD series considered the practice and progress of community-based and socially/civically engaged art and culture over recent decades, and its promise, now and into the future. Each session brought together trailblazing artists and cultural leaders from Animating Democracy’s founding years with a new generation of leading-edge practitioners and thought leaders from the arts and other sectors. Through the lens of their work, featured speakers and artists articulated critical questions of the day, and for the future of arts and culture work, as a spark, invitation, and space for social and civic change.

  1. animating democracy: Voter Mobilization & the Arts
  2. Art, Race & Dialogue
  3. Artistic Imagination as a Force for Change

animating democracy: Voter Mobilization & the Arts

Voter suppression, disinformation, the turning over of laws protecting women’s rights. U.S. democracy is in distress. With 2022 mid-term elections approaching, this session explored the role of artists and organizers working together to motivate voting and civic participation centering on two projects: #HTownVotes was a partnership between Houston in Action and Art2Action and Sojourn Theatre’s THE RACE, exploring what the U.S. wants in a leader, and how we decide our leaders.

Featuring: Frances Valdez, executive director, Houston in Action; Michael Rohd, theater artist, director, Co-Lab for Civic Imagination (CCI) at the University of Montana/Missoula; Andrea Assaf, writer, performer, director, and cultural organizer; artistic and executive director, of Art2Action Inc.

For details and recordings visit:



Art, Race & Dialogue Art, Race & Dialogue

In the context of countless murders of Black people, racially motivated assaults on Asian and Arab Americans, and continuing systemic and structural racism against Black, Indigenous/First Nations, and people of color communities, art and artists can play crucial roles to advance meaningful, transformative dialogue and racial reckoning. What should our expectations be for art as a change agent, and what is the role of dialogue in the pursuit? Kim Pevia facilitated an exchange between artists Katrina Browne and James Scruggs to examine the role of art to disrupt narratives, reveal complicity, deepen dialogue, and make progress toward truth and reconciliation.

Featuring: Katrina Browne, producer and director of the film Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North, consultant, Episcopal Church's Becoming Beloved Community program; Kim Pevia, facilitator; writer; principal, K.A.P. Inner Prizes; curator, Lumbee Film Festival; James Scruggs, writer, performer, producer, and screenwriter; writer/creator, upcoming NPN Project OFF THE RECORD: Acts of Restorative Justice.

For details and recordings visit:



Artistic Imagination as a Force for Change

The late Detroit-based activist & cultural worker Grace Lee Boggs inspired artists, arts organization & community leaders, & activists with her speech at Animating Democracy's 2003 National Exchange on Art & Civic Dialogue. Enumerating conditions perpetuating inequities & injustices in America, she implored, "Can we create a new paradigm of our selfhood & our nationhood?" Inspired by Grace, this session explored artists’ imaginative power to grow the personal and collective soul and how artistic strategies and emergent strategies can bolster movements and make progress toward change.

Featuring: adrienne maree brown, author of multiple books including Emergent Strategy and Pleasure Activism; Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founder/visioning partner, @UrbanBushWomen; Sage Crump, culture strategist, artist, director of Racial Justice & Movement Building, National Performance Network; Roberta Uno, theater director, writer; Founding Director, Arts in a Changing America; Founder/Artistic Director, New WORLD Theater, UMass/Amherst

For details and recordings visit:



Continuum of IMPACT in Action! Teaching Artists Addressing Climate Change around the World

Through its groundbreaking ITAC IMPACT: Climate initiative, the International Teaching Artist Collaborative (ITAC) is supporting teaching artists around the world to engage students and their local communities around pressing issues of climate change. Teaching artists from Brazil to Alaska to the Philippines and beyond are designing and leading innovative projects in schools and communities to raise awareness, educate, change minds and behavior, and to activate participation around a local climate challenge. Having impact around this pressing issue is imperative and evaluation is an integral part of the work for both ITAC and the teaching artists. To help, ITAC has embedded Animating Democracy’s Continuum of IMPACT as a central tool for sharpening desired outcomes and indicators of change and guiding artists’ evaluation planning, implementation, reporting, and communication. Learn about this important initiative and three of the teaching artists’ projects. 

For details and recordings of this two-part series visit:

Evaluation in Action!

Evaluation in Action! 2013 addressed common evaluation challenges artists, arts organizations, and their community partners face.  The goal was to sharpen evaluative thinking and build can-do capacity in evaluation methods that produce meaningful, useful information.

Co-presented by Christine Dwyer of RMC Research and guest practitioners, it included four sessions (90 minutes) each focusing on a skill area, an illuminating arts for change story of evaluative practice, and linking to outcomes from Animating Democracy’s Continuum of Impact.

Linking Your Work to Change – Most arts for change practitioners will never conduct scientific-level evaluation, yet they want to understand links between outcomes and arts for change efforts. Learn techniques to establish connections between arts endeavors and social outcomes.

Credible Qualitative Design & Analysis – Stories and qualitative information are critical to giving a full sense of impact of arts for change work, but they are often considered “soft” evidence. Learn how to collect and analyze qualitative data that’s credible.

Meaningful Numbers! – Sometimes numbers convey meaning even better than words.  Learn what you can and should quantify!

Mapping Long-term, & Cumulative Effects – The effects of arts for change work often occur after project timeframes or grant periods end and are catalytic to other effects such as new connections and deepened relationships. Learn ways to map and assess cumulative and long-term outcomes.

In Evaluation in Action! 2014, guest arts practitioners and evaluators presented specific stories, techniques or tools, along with conceptual frameworks to guide evaluation design.

Art-Based Evaluation Methods
May 28, 2014
Don’t leave your creativity at the evaluation door! Story, poetry, mapping, movement…these and more creative expressions are the work of art but can also elicit information and data useful to assessment and evaluation. This webinar looks at ways to integrate creativity and art making into all stages of evaluation process, from being a method of data collection to a means for sharing findings that make intangible outcomes visible and meaningful.

Collecting Evidence of Outcomes and Impact
May 7, 2014
To capture what you need by know, you need to know what to look for Indicators are specific changes that can be seen, heard or read to show progress or demonstrate that an outcome is being met. It is useful to identify indicators in order to know what you want to measure and what data to collect. This webinar walks you through the process of devising relevant indicators and identifying practical data collection methods for creative change projects.

Assessing Social Impact: Practical Insights from Tucson, Arizona
April 2, 2014
What has the Tucson Pima Arts Council (TPAC) learned through four studies and three reports on its PLACE Initiative? Nationally recognized, PLACE (People, Land, Arts, Culture, and Engagement), has supported individuals and organizations who implement arts-based civic engagement projects that address critical community issues in the southwest. Learn about what kind of framework cultural workers are creating to assess work that engages community constituents as essential collaborators, and “place makers”, not solely as audience members.

Other Webinars

Public Art Evaluation: Principles & Methodology for Measuring Social Impact
August 16, 2012 (60 minutes)
In this webinar, we discuss the challenges facing public art administrators when demonstrating the impact of the arts.

Beyond Good Intentions: Public Art Practices for Achieving Civic Engagement & Social Change
July 19, 2012 (60 minutes)
A follow up to the social engagement session of the 2012 Americans for the Arts convention’s Public Art Pre-Conference, this webinar looks at how to engage communities and how public art programs can support artists who do socially engaged work.

Reclaiming the F-Word: Folk Arts, Shifting Populations & Civic Engagement
June 14, 2012 (60 minutes)
This webinar discusses the importance of folk and traditional arts, highlighting how they connect individuals to their communities, foster dialogue between groups, and build cultural and civic capacity.

Trend or Tipping Point: A New Report on Arts & Social Change Grant making
May 10, 2011 (60 minutes)
Learn about Animating Democracy’s 2010 report: Trend or Tipping Point: Arts & Social Change Grantmaking that assembles a first-time portrait of arts funders, social change funders, and others supporting civic engagement and social change through arts and cultural strategies.

Arts & Civic Engagement: Policies and Actions for Strengthening the 21st Century Community
March 11, 2009 (90 minutes)
The 2008 National Arts Policy Roundtable, an annual forum of Americans for the Arts and the Sundance Preserve, examined important and timely opportunities for the arts to promote civic engagement toward building healthy communities and a healthy democracy.

Animating Democracy organized periodic Blog Salons on Americans for the Arts’ ARTSblog, inviting arts practitioners and leaders, community partners, evaluators, educators, funders, and others to bring their diverse perspectives to a range of topics related to arts for change and Animating Democracy’s activities and resources. Follow the link to each topic area and enjoy multiple blogs on that topic.

Art Spaces for Queer BIPOC During COVID
The purpose of Cedeem Gumbs’ three-part series is to highlight the way in which queer BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) identifying individuals have preserved their art spaces during a pandemic. Community as a concept is understood universally; in function its possibilities are inherently dynamic. However, community becomes a necessity when it is developed by way of shared experiences. (March 2021) (This series was organized by AFTA’s Local Arts Advancement department.)

Inside Artist-Municipal Partnerships
Pam Korza highlights the question at the heart of the blog series: What does it take to make partnerships between municipal agencies and artists work? Over the course of nine blogs, leading-edge local arts agency leaders and arts practitioners who are serving as instigators, facilitators, intermediaries, and advancers of these partnerships share principles and practices they’ve tested and lessons they’ve learned that can help guide peer agencies and peer artists toward effective partnerships. (December 2018-January 2019)

Excellence and Equity in Arts for Change
Notions of excellence and equity are linked and increasingly demand that we attend to both the positive and negative ways they intersect in policies, practices, and decisions. In her introduction to the 16-part blog series, Pam Korza draws attention to crucial questions: which artists get opportunities, who gains resources, how are arts and cultural practices understood and valued by critics, audiences, and gatekeepers? The Blog Salon explores these questions as contributors consider Animating Democracy’s framework, Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change. (July 2017)

Evaluation Learning Lab
Nine blogs offer perspectives from funders, artists, and evaluators, about how to define relevant frames, outcomes, and measures by which to evaluate arts for change work.  Coming out of Animating Democracy’s Evaluation Learning Lab, these voices speak to the Lab’s intention to shift the fulcrum of power in determining the effectiveness of artistic practice rooted in social justice. Alicia Gregory discusses the details of the Lab and blog salon here. (October 2015)

The Beauty in Creative Social Change Work
Seventeen artists, cultural leaders, funders, and activists weigh in on why and how aesthetics are important in understanding, valuing, and advancing arts and social change. Regarding the assessment of the aesthetics of work rooted in social change, Gregory references poet John Haines on the role of the critic: “to provide a space in which creation can take place, a clearing in the imagination.” Alicia Gregory offers an introduction to this series here. (November 2014)

Humor and Social Change
Thirty blogs drawn from across ARTSblog explore how artists, comedians, and other cultural commentators employ humor in the heavy work of social justice. Joanna Chin expands on the nature of this series here. (December 2013)

Scaling up Programs and Projects
In her blog, Joanna Chin summarizes some major themes/approaches that emerged during the Salon’s 20 blogs: defining and framing; breadth vs. depth; movement building vs. replication; structuring scale and scope; when scale meets technology; artists/individuals as core, and the potential of big institutions and funders. (December 2012)

Social Impact and Evaluation
With creative work that stems from a desire to address bigger social needs, it’s not enough to simply tack on a survey at the end of a project. Joanna Chin breaks down the series based on the idea that evaluation comes from the work itself and the desire to make positive change rather than from external forces like funders or public officials. In the end, it might be about creating a methodology, nagging people about surveys, mining data, and collecting stories, but the bigger, more interesting challenge is how that evaluation will shape what we do next. Delve into social impact and evaluation in the arts in this compilation of 29 blogs. (May 2012)