Evaluation Plan: Art At Work, Terra Moto and the City of Portland, ME
The Art at Work is a national initiative to improve municipal government through strategic art projects between artists, city departments, unions, elected officials and the community. Launched in 2007 in Portland, ME, as a three-year project, the initiative includes artmaking workshops led by artist Marty Pottenger with local artists (currently a printmaker, poets, and photographers) within the city’s Public Works, Health & Human Services, and Police Departments. Art At Work's working hypothesis is that it is useful for people to make art about their work and lives, and that doing so increases their chances to come up with better solutions to longstanding problems. One component, The Police Poetry Project, paired poets and photographers with members of the Portland Police Department to write poetry and take photographs and to address two key challenges--the relationship between police and the public and low department morale. The resulting work was assembled into a calendar that was distributed within the community and used as a focus for departmental and community dialogue. As part of Animating Democracy’s Art & Civic Engagement Impact Initiative, artist and initiative director, Marty Pottenger collaborated with evaluator Chris Dwyer of RMC Research. They applied an evaluation framework developed by Dwyer to systematically define outcomes and indicators that provide evidence of concern to targeted stakeholders and opinion leaders, as well as strategies for data collection and communication of results. For the police project in particular, and the overall initiative, the evaluation plan lists the major questions to be answered in an evaluation related to desired outcomes; the indicators of desired behavioral or attitudinal change; potential data collection instruments and strategies that are appropriate for the indicators; notes about the target sample for a particular data collection strategy; timing of data collection; and, where relevant, any appropriate comparisons that might be made. Defined indicators could be used in a number of ways: a beginning point for developing instrumentation; the framework for content analysis of documents and records; a framing or focusing device for other types of documentation, e.g., the film documentary; and a file structure for maintaining anecdotal information about the project. Finally, the framework’s application over time for particular initiative components and on the whole, can help substantiate the case for the role of the arts in civic systems and processes. For samples of evaluation instruments used to assess impact of the Police Poetry Project, visit the page on Art At Work Survey Instruments.