Evaluation 2017: From Learning to Action

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Grant Portfolio Evaluation in the Arts

Session Number: 1606
Track: Arts, Culture, and Audiences
Session Type: Multipaper
Tags: Grant Evaluation
Session Chair: Patricia Moore Shaffer [Deputy Director, Research & Analysis - National Endowment for the Arts]
Presenter 1: Renae Youngs [Director, Research and Evaluation - Minnesota State Arts Board]
Presenter 2: Patricia Moore Shaffer [Deputy Director, Research & Analysis - National Endowment for the Arts]
Presenter 3: Sara Crawford Nash [Program Director, Dance - New England Foundation for the Arts]
Time: Nov 10, 2017 (01:45 PM - 03:15 PM)
Room: Madison A

Abstract 1 Title: Evaluating a statewide arts grantmaking portfolio: direct and indirect impacts
Presentation Abstract 1:

The Minnesota State Arts Board is a small state agency relative to departments of health or transportation, but is larger than most state arts agencies. The Arts Board allocates resources through its own grant programs and alongside eleven regional partners, totaling some 1,400 grants per year system-wide. Each grantee’s activities are distinct to their own expertise, mission, and context; there is no central, field-wide objective or problem statement in the arts. Moreover, evaluation capacity in the arts field is often low, grants are often small, generalizable research is scarce, and standardized and validated instruments are almost non-existent. So how does portfolio-wide arts evaluation work? Join the Minnesota State Arts Board’s research and evaluation director to discuss this challenge! Explore efforts currently underway to evaluate both grantees and the arts sector, all to address one very large evaluation question: what difference do the arts make for the people of this state?

Abstract 2 Title: Evaluating a Federal creative placemaking grant portfolio
Presentation Abstract 2:

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is the largest national funder of nonprofit arts in the U.S. Annually, the NEA awards more than 2,200 grants and cooperative agreements exceeding $130 million, funding the arts in all 50 states and six U.S. jurisdictions, including urban and rural areas, and reaching civilian and military populations. NEA grantees include nonprofit organizations, units of state and local government, federally recognized tribal communities or tribes, and, where permitted, individuals. In preparation for evaluation of distinct grant portfolios, the NEA has committed resources to using theory of change and logic modeling. The development of a nested theory of change for the agency’s creative place making initiative, which included analyses of grant data, a rapid scan of related programs, and interviews with key informants, will be shared during the session. Challenges associated with this project, particularly the heterogeneous nature of grant projects, will be discussed.


Abstract 3 Title: Evaluating a national dance grant portfolio
Presentation Abstract 3:

NEFA’s National Dance Project (NDP) celebrated its twentieth year of grantmaking and services in 2016 to support the creation and touring of new dance works in the U.S. To mark the occasion, NEFA commissioned a retrospective and forward looking study of NDP’s impact and the practices through which dance artists and the cultural organizations that support them sustain their work. The research included two surveys completed by over 800 individuals to generate data on historic and current resources for commissioning and touring new dance works. Focus groups engaged artists and organizations who had received NDP support as well as artists who identified as having been largely excluded from national systems of support to discuss how the field can become more equitable. This session will discuss what this research revealed and the resulting changes designed to reimagine grant programs and services that better serve dance artists and organizations today.

Theme: Learning What Works and Why
Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

What does evaluation of a grantmaker’s portfolio look like in a field without a clear, overarching problem or consensus goal? How does a grantmaker in such a field create key metrics and accountability requirements for grantees with a wide range of interventions and organizational missions? And how can we ensure reliable evaluation occurs in settings where grants tend to be small and evaluation capacity is often low? These questions are important across the entire landscape of grantmaking in the arts, but are particularly pressing in the public sector, where there is an obligation to invest widely in work that benefits the public. During this session, the presenters, who manage grant portfolio evaluation in a state agency, regional arts organization, and Federal agency respectively, discuss their overall approach and also the unique challenges to conducting this work in the arts.


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Cancellation Policy: Refunds less a $50 fee will be granted for requests received in writing prior to 11:59 PM EDT October 16, 2017. Email cancellation requests to registration@eval.org. Fax request to (202) 367-2173. All refunds are processed after the meeting. After October 16, 2017 all sales are final. For Evaluation 2017, international attendees and presenters who encounter complications due to the international travel environment will have up to 30 days after the event to request a refund and submit appropriate documentation. No administrative fee will apply for the international requests. The $50 fee will be waived for registrants who planned to travel into the US and experienced international travel issues.