Young Evaluators in action

Circulate – a group of young evaluators, made the trip to Blueprint - a three-day festival of art, music and dance for young people, curated by Tate Collective Liverpool.

Window at Tate Liverpool with Blueprint sign

Circulate, a national team of young evaluators selected from each gallery’s core young people’s group, were tasked with collecting responses from the public during the festival and recording their own reflections. Through a series of national workshops and training events, they developed tools to evaluate the festival utilising journals, photography and video to record their observations and interview festival-goers. They were particularly looking for evidence, so as to:

  • Find out how successful the festival was in achieving its aims.
  • Work out what went well and what could have been better, so as to learn from it and use this learning when planning future festivals.
  • Show other people how successful the festival was, and share with them the learning that took place through the evaluation process.

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Circulate met as a team at points throughout the festival to share evaluation methods that were working well for them, and ensure all areas of the festival were being captured between them.

“Working as a pair went pretty well – I did the interviews and Harriet took pictures. We’re going to put them together after the festival and compare them.”

“We used quite a few formats to interview people, we recorded them, photographed, videoed and wrote bits down – all bases covered.”

We gave people the option of how they wanted to be interviewed – illustration, video, photography or voice recording. When they heard that they could be illustrated, they screamed, they thought it was exciting. We chose quotes from what they said and made them part of the drawings.

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I was interested in how iPads could be useful for evaluating a festival. Experience of documenting festivals in the past warned me that it’s easy to overload on photos, and loose the thinking that lead to the shot being taken. In the context of evidence gathering, it felt important to find a way of recording reflections alongside all the media being collected.

“We used the app Moment Diary – which was good because it time-stamps all your photos and videos and you can write things next to the images. It helps that it shows the time you took the photo, because if you see a photo of a festival where there’s only a few people, it would mean something totally different if it’s the very start of the festival, or right in the middle of it.”

“I’m not that into iPads… my notebook was good though. I wrote loads and drew little pictures scattered around. It felt more natural to be using pen and paper, and quicker. And when you carry an iPad, people think you’re going to ask them to do a survey. Our interviews were different.”

It was good to see all the stuff going on about Blueprint on twitter. And get it all in one place by sending it to the iPad app version of Storify, so you can see it all linking together and what people are saying about it online.

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Observing Circulate in action, I was struck by the range of approaches, and how each team member adapted the task to fit their creative strengths. They developed their own strategies for evaluating, and found creative ways to overcome barriers. One group felt that people were wary of being interviewed, as it distracted from the fun of the festival, so dressed up and turned the interview into a performative and exuberant process, fully in line with the spirit of the festival.

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Blueprint was Circulate’s first experience of evaluating a festival. They will meet as a group in September to aggregate the evidence collected, analyse it, pull out learning, and document their findings creatively. Their role is key to Circuit, as they continue to evaluate individual progression, support the programme aims and ensure young people’s voice remains central to the programme.

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