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Report: IETM publishes a manual for evaluations of cultural organisations

©Guy Mayer, Creative Commons License

Evaluation has developed into an indispensable catchword of national, European and international cultural policy. Vast quantities of evaluation reports are created with more or less passion, taking up a good deal of time and money and often only being taken out of the drawer for the annual report. In spite of this, evaluations of a cultural organisation – if they are well planned, implemented and used – can help to review its self-image, to place decisions on a solid foundation and to improve its relationship to funders – according to Vassilka Shishkova, who has presented a manual for the (self-)evaluation of cultural institutions for the international network for contemporary performing arts (IETM) 2017. Shishkova suspects that there is a fundamental problem in false expectations with regard to the value of art and culture: it is not expedient to measure them against criteria of infra-structural or health measures, and the positive effects of art are not its core business – "art is not a utility". However, anyone who expects unusual or new methods of evaluation beyond question-naires, interviews and focus groups following this statement will be disappointed. The manual leads systematically through fundamental requirements for evaluations, touches intensively upon the demands of cultural institutions and various scenarios, discusses the advantages and disadvantages of individual measures and makes quantitative analysis a priority. As befitting a manual, it leads through central questions with regard to the planning phase, questioning techniques, sampling methods and pays particular attention to the evaluation report: how should this be written and get across so that it is actually used? With its clearly and humorously worded tips for practical realisation, further reading references and practical examples, the manual is an encouragement for cultural organisations that want to attempt the project "Evaluation" – whether for reasons of funding conditions or completely voluntarily.