Marrying two worlds: Can evaluation dance with the Arts?

I feel deeply blessed to be working as a consultant evaluator. Not only does this draw on my academic experience and bring me opportunities to work in the social and community development sectors, it also enables me to bring in another of my skill sets: coaching and facilitation.

This is one marriage of skills and interests that has brought me incredible opportunities to learn about community development and the dedication and hard work that goes into public health work. It also enables me to work as a freelancer and to enjoy a lot of flexibility and autonomy.

But I want to take this one step further. My other love is creative and artistic self-expression of the raw, vulnerable and emotive kind.

I’ve been wondering this year about why creative modalities like filmmaking, animation, performance and music aren’t used more in evaluation.

If we take a buzz word like ‘participatory evaluation’, what we’re really talking about is being committed to finding and using ways of capturing and sharing real people’s experiences and feedback, isn’t it?

I’ve seen the incredible emotive communicative power of film and sketch art, when used to capture what people want to say about a particular project or program.

I have a vested interest in exploring this more because it would marry two aspects of my world and, best of all, it would encourage more people to be open to expressing our real human experiences of projects, programs and initiatives. The more honest, the better.

I feel encouraged to have discovered today that performance art is being used to communicate public health messages, having had the joy of hearing from Judy Avisar of Monash Link¬†about a project for people affected by gambling. I’m looking forward to discovering more ways that the world of evaluation can meet and dance with the world of the Arts.

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