Hi I’m Grey Wu and I’m part of the Circuit group in Cambridge. I was part of the team leading an evaluation session in January. We wanted to find out about the experience of the Circuit group members and how we could use that to help us plan our activities so that we could meet our aims and the Circuit aims.
Leading this kind of evaluation session was a completely new experience for me on so many levels. In fact, looking back, there are so many things that I could have used to excuse myself from taking part in leading some of the evaluation evening: I had only been a member of the Circuit Group for 3 months, and I had never taken part in a group evaluation in any setting (apart from reflecting we do in our regular Circuit planning sessions and workshops), let alone leading one, to name but a few. (This is not at all to say the experience was bad, in fact it was the contrary; it’s merely that I prefer to be a participant than otherwise.) However, I was somewhat oblivious of these prior to the session – probably down to the fact that seeking new experiences was one of the many reasons I joined the Circuit Group.
The evaluation session was a time when we reflected on these new experiences (that had took place in the past year). We planned the evening after a Skype session with Roz Hall, the Circuit Critical Friend. Having established that the way we word the questions is crucial in order to acquiring ‘quality’ responses, we decided to begin the session by inviting everyone to create questions that would help us reflecting on our experiences, which we responded to later. To make it a fun process, we had put questions words (‘If’, ‘How’ ‘Why’ ‘Can’ etc) on a set of Jenga blocks and the question created had to use the question word on the Jenga block that had just been taken off from the tower. (Credit to Josh who suggested this brilliant idea). After an intense game, we had a good list of questions and were stimulated and ready for the rest of the session.
We moved on to making a big timeline, reflecting on the projects that we had accomplished in the past year. On a long scroll of paper we wrote down our thoughts on those projects, using different colour to represent how strongly we felt about our opinions (credit to Josh again for suggesting this) . We were also happy to people to doodle/create illustrations on the map. We soon populated one end of the paper (represent from September onwards) with various comments – it was interesting reading what others had written and seeing from their perspective how those projects went.
In the final part of the session, we responded to the questions Imogen and Lucy prepared as a group, as well as those we created earlier during the Jenga game. We reflected on the initial goals as we joined the Circuit Group, had they been fulfilled, what have we learned, also had the goals of the Circuit Programme been fulfilled etc. again it was interesting to listen to other peoples thought as there was a real diversity.
Questions we created out of jenga: (everyone answered one with a posit at the end). We will use this at other Circuit sessions to get more answers.
- If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
- Can parameters be helpful?
- Should we be evaluating every week? A: yes and no… monthly would be a better frequency
- What is quality? A: it’s honesty
- Could your experience be improved?
- If you have anything you want to change, what would it be? A: encouraging honest feedback
- Would you still come to Circuit if there was no food?
- Would you say you’ve learnt more about museums and galleries? If so, how?
- Are there any problems with being peer-led? A: people can be too ‘nice’
- How would you use yp’s motivation for attending?
- Can you name examples of when you’ve enjoyed collaborating with other Circuit members?
- How do you think we can attract more Circuit members?
- Do staff at WYsing and KY give enough support?
We came up with our own aims for Circuit (on top of the main aims) and questions to help us evidence these aims:
AIM 1: To Meet like-minded people and learn from them
- What do you think you have gained from other members of the group?
- What makes this group of people different?
AIM 2: To Build personal and professional skills and experience
- What kind of experiences would help you to develop professionally?
- How is Circuit different to other opportunities?
- What has been the best/hardest experience?
AIM 3: To Meet Creative Professionals
- What has been good/bad about the opportunities that Circuit has provided?
- What has been good/difficult about working with/ in partnership with artists?
AIM 4: To Take part in creative activity
- Have you tried things in Circuit that you wouldn’t have otherwise tried before?
- What have been the best projects that you have been involved in?
- Have activities developed your creative practice and if so – how?
AIM 5: To Find out about museums and art galleries
- What have you learnt about museums/galleries that you didn’t expect?
- How much do you feel part of the organisation(s)
- Has Circuit made museums/organisations more accessible? How?
AIM 6: Collaborating with people
- What are the challenges of collaboration?
- What has Circuit taught you about collaboration?
- How would you define ideal collaboration?
Here are the answers:
What have you learnt about museums that you didn’t expect?
- There’s an education room at KY
- Never thought I’d have the chance to have a job at the museum!
- More people work in education than expected
- Everyone knows each other throughout Cambridge museums
- Close-knit community
- ‘Staff’ become ‘people’
- So much stuff never heard of/imagined
- Don’t have to know lots about art to do creative things
- So much stuff going on!
- Temporary exhibitions have limited run – they always have a start and end time
- Fridges are always full of wine!
- Lots of ‘red-tape’ bureaucracy
- So many in Cambridge
- Really easy to get to
What kind of experiences would help you develop personally and professionally?
- More official positions
- Another 24 hour workshop
- Meeting artists/working with them
- Skills sharing
- Skills exchange
- Mini workshops?
- Collaborating together
- Having a Q+A with museum/gallery professionals
- Opportunities to exhibit!
- Learning new skills, then practicing them
- Real-world reason for doing this (not just an exercise)
- Chance for group members to take on project management
- Shadowing opportunities
- More chance to programme
Have activities benefitted your creative practice – if so, how? (personal postits)
- I never did any visual practice until Circuit – it’s been great to have that chance
- Keeping up motivation to create work!
- Using bright colours
- Learnt from other people’s ideas and approach to doing art
- I really enjoyed the writing workshop with Caroline Wendling, it was very relevant to my practice
How much do you feel part of KY/Wysing?
- Easier to feel part of Wysing because the team is smaller
- A LOT! I work there
- 5 months before I saw Wysing in the light!
- Being able to do odd bits of work through Circuit involvement
- Balance across both organisations
Has Circuit made museums/galleries more accessible?
- Curating Cambridge – encouraged me to go and look around other Cambridge museums
- Going to Issam’s studio was GREAT!
What makes this group of people different?
- Everyone is unique
- Diverse age group – different to have people aged 15-25 in the same room
- From different places and different bubbles
- Different ages/stages/interests
What have you gained from other members of Circuit?
- You can mix sweet and salted popcorn – yum!
- Made friends!
- Learnt a lot about curating, and different types of art, from chatting at the pub
- Meeting people with different interests, skills and ages
- Learned from their experiences
- Josh taught me how to make bread
What has been good about the opportunities Circuit has provided?
- Great to travel to the other partners and see their take on the project
- Broadens my horizons
- New experimenting
- I’ve got an internship, which has given me SO many opportunities
- Opportunity to work for Wysing (various jobs)
What’s been difficult about partnering with artists?
- Not seeing through to the end product
- Artists not being part of the feedback
- Competition/tension of ideas
- Who’s leading?
- Making sure the group’s opinion is heard
- Mid-way feedback written into artist’s briefs
What has Circuit taught you about collaboration?
- It’s good to contribute
- Be loud and proud!
- We need more disagreement!
- Faceless disagreement?
- Can be hard
- ‘People disagreement’
- How to manage?
- Good times together!
- Space for disagreement
- Having accountability for something to the group
- Know the expectation of what you are required to do
- Importance of defining roles
- You can make a good idea great in a group
How would you define ideal collaboration?
- People do what they say they’ll do
- Fulfillment of aims
- Everyone is integral
- Everyone has the chance to do something they are interested/excited by
What has been the best/hardest challenge?
- 24 hour workshop
- 24 hour workshop
- 24 hour workshop
- Leading sessions on my own