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Festivals Toolkit: Strategic Planning: Monitoring & Evaluation

To derive maximum value, it is essential to monitor and evaluate your festival. This should be approached from both internal perspective (staff, volunteers, committee members) as well as an external one (visitors, customers, local businesses, artists etc) to get the full picture.

External Evaluation
A key element of any activity is knowing how to evaluate and measure the success of the activity. This stems directly from the objective setting elements of the plan, and often as not, helps festival organisers to test and refine their objectives.

The ability to measure success relies on you already having defined and agreed what success actually means. The more specific you can be in defining what success means, the easier it will be for you to establish the monitoring and evaluation mechanisms needed to measure it.

Indeed to festival organisers, whose budgets are often tight and whose future activities would benefit heavily from the knowledge of past performance, the need to establish sound and appropriate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms is increasingly important.

Amongst the range of mechanisms, frameworks and techniques available to you to evaluate your activities are:

  • analysis of box office or visitor survey data
  • community or economic impact studies
  • other feedback channels such as customer comments cards or complaints handling
  • observational research methods
  • using in-house or audience panels, i.e. focus groups

The Voluntary Arts Network (VAN) has a useful briefing on Monitoring and Evaluation (pdf format).

This briefing looks at effective ways to monitor your work, evaluate what you do, and share results with your organisationís partners, funders and staff. Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is increasingly becoming a standard requirement of most funding bodies to demonstrate how well organisations are doing and whatís working for them. M&E is often seen as time-consuming, unrewarding, and a job for professionals, but done well, it can be another creative and enjoyable aspect of your work and an invaluable system for improving your services. By following the VAN guide, you will be able to treat it as an integral part of what you do, using resources and skills you already have.

If you opt for a customer and visitor survey, try and analyse the evaluation forms within a month after the event. An inexpensive but quality gift in exchange for a completed evaluation form is a good way of encouraging audience members to give feedback.

Internal Evaluation
The Event Evaluation Form (from Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council) suggests you record some basic information to provide a record of what was successful and unsuccessful. For example:

  1. How many people did you expect to attend the event?
  2. How many people actually attended the event?
  3. What aspects of your event did you feel were successful?
  4. Is there anything you would consider changing should you stage a similar event in the future?
  5. Were there any accidents or incidents that occurred during your event? If yes, please provide information, including details of any injuries sustained, any witnesses, details of remedial action taken, etc.
  6. What was the actual income / expenditure of the event, compared with your initial budget? You may find it very useful to fully detail all costs incurred as this will greatly assist you in planning for future events.

Further Information:

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation Evaluation Resource Pack (PDF Format), published in association with the National Institute for Continuing Adult Education (NIACE) is now available as a free download. The pack provides creative and participatory methods for evaluating charitable activity.

The North East England guidance sheet to Monitoring and Evaluation (PDF format) is available for further information from the Related Document section of this page.

Related documents

The following document is in Portable Document Format (PDF). You can download software to view PDF documents for free from the Adobe website (opens in a new window)

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