As I’m sure many of you already know, on the 4th and 5th of December was the annual Circuit Sharing Session in Bristol. My day started off dead early at 5, and we arrived in Bristol for around 12 and headed over to Watershed on the edge of Bristol harbour. I choose to sit at the stamps table as I am interested in the subject matter that was on the stamp that I selected.
After everyone had arrived and we all grabbed something to eat, the first talk started. It was led by Tate Liverpool and it was about different ways that we could evaluate within our Circuit groups. The first way was called “Slow Mail”: the people of your group write down what they want out of the process or event, then after the event they are given them back. I really liked this idea, and thought it was a clever and unique way to evaluate. The second way was presented by Circuit Cambs and it was called ‘Question Jenga’: each Jenga block had a different feedback question on it. I thought this was a clever, interactive and fun way to receive feedback. Another way was to host a dinner and have people write their feedback on the table. The final way that they showed us to evaluate was a person called blob, who wants to see and experience new things. It’s a drawing on a piece of paper or canvas and each person writes something that they can do during the process onto the body and he learns as they learn.
After these mini talks we had a talk from local group Young Arnolfini. They talked about how they have a large group of 15 to 25 year olds and how they were asked by Arnolfini to create an exhibition and so decided to create 3 separate projects/pieces. They said how it was a real honour to be given the main gallery space and how it was hugely challenging. It was a challenge as no one could point to something and say that’s mine as they all worked together to produce the three pieces. On the opening night they had a huge turn out of over 800 people! They also gave us tips for reaching an end goal and how it was better to have a clear collective goal in sight that will help to create a sense of freedom in the middle of how to go at the idea. They also talked about much more, but I don’t have enough time to mention them here.
After this talk we had a brief talk on why we evaluate.
After this we went to our accommodation, I was staying in a youth hostel, thankfully I got a room all to myself!
Then in the evening we went for a lovely meal in Old Market Assembly Bristol, and then watched Goldilock, Stock & Three Smoking Bears at The Wardrobe Theatre. It was a really well written and quite original! Well worth checking out.
After a nice breakfast we headed over to the Arnolfini to begin our second day. We started off the day with a slight change to the programme, but not that much. Next we went through each gallery and they gave us a five-minute recap of their learning over the past year. Now I am not going to go through each gallery – that will take way too long, but I will give two examples. Nottingham Contemporary over this year learnt the usefulness and possibility of focus groups, and Tate London learnt the value of working with their partner groups. After this we went for lunch, and I had some lovely soup!
After we went through all this we had a choice either have some chill out time, attend a workshop or have 1 on 1 interviews with various members of the National Evaluation Team. I chose the 1 on 1’s as I thought it would be more valuable. My first meeting was with Roz Hall – the Circuit Critical Friend, and I asked her various questions about evaluation and what is the best way to evaluate various events. My second interview was with Rachel Escott – Circuit Marketing Consultant, and I asked her various questions to do with social media, and how to effectively use that for marketing an event. My final interview was Myvanwy Evans – Circuit Press Consultant, who I asked various questions about building up a stable audience and various other questions about the press.
Our final task was to sit in our galleries and come up with our plans for next year, and anything that we want to improve on. One of ours was to make it so more of our workshops are lead by young people.
After this we headed home, which took a lot longer for us as our train broke down on the way, so instead of getting back for 9:30, we didn’t get back until after midnight.
Overall I think these two days were extremely useful. It gave me personally a new insight and dimension into evaluation. It was also nice and a real honour to see how a proper Circuit conference between the different galleries run, and to gain experiences and ideas from the other galleries. Below is a selection of photos from the two days…
Experienced by Conner