Research on Public Art: Assessing Impact and Quality

Resource Details
Catherine Ward Thompson, Andrew Patrizio, Alicia Montarzino

ixia, the public art think tank, is funded by the Arts Council England and aims to provide guidance on the role of art in the public realm. Through its activities, ixia identifies and challenges restrictive practices which result in limited and missed opportunities for artists working in the public realm. ixia works with artists, policymakers and implementers within the public and private sectors and carries out research, supports events, delivers training, and commissions publications. [Adapted from ixia’s website.] This AFTA database includes a number of items by ixia: Evaluation Toolkit, How Was it For You? Assessing impact of artists practice in the public realm, Research on Public Art: Assessing Impact and Quality, ixia—public art think tank, ixia Training: Public Art and the Planning Process Seminar, Public Art Evaluation Tools: Matrix and Personal Project Analysis, Public Art Evalution ToolKit Seminars, and Public Art: A Guide to Evaluation. The most helpful of these are Public Art Evaluation Tools: Matrix and Personal Project Analysis, Public Art: A Guide to Evaluation, and this item. This item presents the user with a toolkit containing two useful tools: Public Art Evaluation Matrix and Personal Project Assessment. The authors guide readers through using the toolkit with steps including: a) identifying a facilitator and introducing the Matrix; b) identifying what outcomes are important to different stakeholders and coming to an agreed view of what are the most important (and perhaps diverse) values, taking into account all stakeholders’ priorities; c) defining outcomes, outputs, and indicators in relation to these values; d) planning for the collection, storage and analysis of data, including baseline information; e) identifying when and how to use personal project analysis for key stakeholders; f) giving feedback to stakeholders, learning from the results of the evaluation and dissemination as appropriate. The Matrix encourages collaborators to have facilitated conversations in order to better understand their values (both shared and contrasting) as they embark on public art collaborations. This is a good basic primer on evaluation, tailored somewhat to public art. To present examples, they use the term "good" practice, with examples, rather than "best" practice, implying that there is no single standard. The toolkit starts on page 45, and on page 48-52, there is an excellent discussion of the inherent values that stakeholders should consider in public art projects. They are the basis of the Matrix and include: Artistic Values [visual/aesthetic enjoyment, design quality, social activation, innovation/risk, host participation, challenge/critical debate], Social Values [community development, poverty and social inclusion, health and well being, crime and safety, interpersonal development, travel/access, and skills acquisition], Environmental Values [vegetation and wildlife, physical environment improvement, conservation, pollution and waste management-air, water and ground quality, and climate change and energy], Economic Values [marketing/place identity, regeneration, tourism, economic investment and output, resource use and recycling, education, employment, project management/sustainability, and value for money]. While the authors avoid delving into the topic of indicators, Public Art Evaluation Tools: Matrix and Personal Project Analysis and especially Public Art: A Guide to Evaluation both discuss them in more detail.

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