Evaluation & Legacy

It is important to clearly plan how you are going to evaluate your project from the outset. Evaluation is important - to improve how you do what you do (and share learning with others); to remind yourself and others of what you’re achieving; to show funders you’ve achieved what you said you would and strengthen the case for future projects. The Heritage Fund’s basic principles of good evaluation provide a useful template to guide any evaluation, these are 

  • Tell the story: The evaluation should clearly show the links between activities, outputs and outcomes of the project. 
  • Choose indicators that matter: There should be an evidence base to show how the conclusions have been arrived at, this should include the methods used, details of the data and any limitations. There will be a mix of qualitative and quantitative data, from a range of sources set within a broader context. 
  • Go beyond counting: The data collected should be analysed and explanations provided as to how the conclusions have been arrived at, including any assumptions, limitations and a commentary. There should be a baseline against which to gauge progress. 
  • Avoid bias: The evaluation should be objective and not biased, there should be honesty from all those involved, accepting failings (which are all part of learning) as well as successes. 
  • Structure: The results of the evaluation should be clearly set out and easy to understand. 
  • Improve not just prove: The conclusions and recommendations should be clear, showing lessons and learning that can be applied elsewhere. 
  • As part of the evaluation both outputs and outcomes should be considered -
    • Outputs: these are direct results for example the number of commissions achieved, the amount of match funding generated, the number of people engaged through public consultation. 
    • Outcomes: these are the less immediate and far reaching impacts of a project. For example this could be the number of people feeling positively about a commission, the change in perceptions of an area or an increased awareness of a theme or story featured in a commission. 

The Centre for Cultural Value at the University of Leeds have also developed a set of evaluation principles which it would be useful to consider when setting up your evaluation plan at project outset.

The table below lays out some of the ways in which you might approach evaluating your project. Remember that you need to be GDPR compliant when collecting data. As a general rule of thumb, it may be sufficient to collect anonymous data where you can not identify the person sharing the data. If you have a specific reason to collect identifiable personal details you need to follow ICO Guidance.



Purpose of the evaluation

How to evaluate

Engaging communities

To show that local communities or communities of interest have been involved in the development of your project.

  • Simple surveys as part of any workshops or public consultations, hard copy/ digital
  • Headcounts of those attending workshops or public consultations
  • Interviews (recorded or otherwise) with those attending workshops or public consultations
  • Surveys and/or interviews after the work has been commissioned with local communities 

Increasing visitors

To show that people are visiting the area specifically to see the public art commission or take part in engagement or temporary works.

  • Monitoring of social media
  • Occasional observations and conversations at the site asking people their reasons for visits
  • Wider visitor surveys can include questions relating to public art as one of the reasons for visiting
  • Visitor footfall counts to show the numbers visiting a site and if it is an existing site to see if there is an increase after the work has been installed

Place making and raising design standards

To show if the increased focus on public art commissioning has led to increased design standards 

  • Conversations with developers and investors to understand their reasons for investing in the area and see if public art played a part
  • To review each commission, through desktop research and conversations to look at if and how the involvement of an artist / creative practitioner had an impact on the wider development
  • Any awards received for commissions in the area

Some other areas to monitor and review

  • Press and social media coverage and engagement relating to public art commissions will be recorded and reviewed. 
  • The total amount spent on public art and the sources of that investment
  • Analysis of the appointment of the artist in terms of demographics, geographical location, diversity and stage of their career
  • A review of the commissioning process in light of the analysis above of the appointments to see if the process can be more accessible and equitable