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Critical reflections on performing arts impact evaluations

Nicola Jayne Williams-Burnett (Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, UK)
Heather Skinner (Institute of Place Management, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Arts and the Market

ISSN: 2056-4945

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to present a critically reflective account of the process of conducting an impact evaluation of a dance-theatre company’s staged productions and workshops.


There are two main approaches: the introspective critical reflection on the process of performing an impact evaluation; and the drawing/colouring methods used to perform it.


It is more difficult to provide impact evaluations of the soft rather than hard outcomes of publicly funded performance arts. The engagement of third-party evaluators may help overcome the challenge that many “accepted” approaches are outwith the skill or financial resources of smaller non-profit organisations.

Research limitations/implications

Although based on a single case, the authors believe that the evidence how the use of innovative methodologies may be more appropriate to performing arts impact evaluations, even those less familiar to management researchers.

Practical implications

This paper offers insights into various methods of impact evaluation that may be of use to smaller non-profit arts organisations who may be constrained by limited skills and financial resources.


This paper provides an original contribution to understanding innovative methodologies to perform arts impact evaluations, particularly those assessing soft outcomes, and a contribution in recognising the role of academic researchers in performing such evaluations.



Williams-Burnett, N.J. and Skinner, H. (2017), "Critical reflections on performing arts impact evaluations", Arts and the Market, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 32-50.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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