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Spillover-Workshop: Cultural Events - Evaluating The Impacts And The Public Perception

What kinds of spillovers occur at the ‘Summer at the U’? Workshop participants have discussed the values and impacts of the festival

© ecce

Mid-May 2018, ecce and the Dortmunder U organised a workshop about the spillover effects of cultural events called ‘An Interdisciplinary Approach to Evaluate the Impacts and the Public Perception’. Dr Yesim Tonga and Dr Rafael Uriarte from Lucca in Italy gave an upfront workshop to lecture the participants about the understanding of spillover effects, existing impact assessment methods and new conceptual and methodological inquiries particularly through the integration of computer science for evaluating the impacts of cultural events.

About 15 people representing several institutions of the Dortmunder U - the social media unit, the cultural education unit, and the Museum Ostwall among others – and external representatives of e.g. the Museum of Art and Cultural History in Dortmund joined the workshop these two days.

During the first day, the Italian researchers provided comprehensive insights in the methods for evaluating the impacts of cultural events and various methods of data collection and data analysis. In particular, the workshop focused on social media data and other personal assessments on internet platforms to evaluate the impacts of cultural venues in the future. On the second day, the workshop focussed more on the group work. To make the workshop as practically oriented as possible, the events ‘Summer at the U’ and ‘Lucca Comics and Games’ were used as examples for defining the goals and pillars of impact assessment for institution-owned projects and for developing long term strategies. The participants worked on a framework for evaluating the impacts of cultural events trying to define outreach goals, challenges and opportunities for the Dortmunder U and ‘Summer at the U’. The workshop participants rated the ‘Summer at the U’, for example, as a festival that provides fun and entertainment and supports the value ‘diversity’ on those days.

The aim of the workshop was to raise awareness of possible evaluation approaches fitting into the everyday life of cultural institutions and to improve events in the long term using these methods and to monitor their development and impact on the belonging institutions and the city. As a result of the workshop, the values and the identity of both the ‘Summer at the U’ and the Dortmunder U were analysed and reflected in form of several group works with the participants.

From this point, this knowledge will be used to evaluate the cultural work of the Dortmunder U institution. Several questions which aroused during the workshop were related to the fact, that evaluation is not only a top-down process and need to be practised on different planning levels. This understanding needs to be communicated on a grand scale in cultural institutions, because there are a lot of different definitions, perspectives and perceptions in the cultural sector about the meaning and the effectiveness of evaluation. In addition, concerning the new privacy policy in May 2018, there are a lot new barriers which make it more difficult to handle the social media data in the future.

Therefore, the workshop aims to promote and encourage a common understanding of all institutions or at least a detailed analysis of the diverse understanding of all the people involved in order to jointly develop a toolkit on how cultural activities can be evaluated. Evaluation is a multi-layered and sometimes difficult to use method, but worth implementing institutionally.