Evaluation: What are we doing?
05/04/2019 | Finding Maindee
April is Autism Awareness Month. World Autism Awareness Week tak is takes place during the first week of April, and Earth Day is celebrated on the 22nd of the month. In Maindee Unlimited's calendar, April will be dedicated to evaluation.
With this blog post, I will be sharing what we are doing as part of our evaluation, from SWOT analysis to a Hockney-esque patchwork of Chepstow Road (and a few other bits in between).
There are things that we said we would do at the start of Finding Maindee that we can revisit in order to measure the outcomes of the project, and the ‘distance travelled’.
This is a term used primarily in the progress of an individual participant over time, for educational or employability purposes. I am using it here as poetic licence - you will need to imagine ‘Finding Maindee’ is an individual (or entity) on a journey beyond the perimeters of itself. Its progress is largely visual, and much less tangible. It is softer: there are parts that will contribute to a larger, longer aim for Maindee. It is qualitative: made up of opinions, thoughts, feelings, themes and visuals.
I am not disputing the power (and persuasion) of facts, figures and statistics measured against baselines with impressive outputs against even more impressive sample sizes, but I am in favour of acknowledging the value of the parts that make up a whole: the impact of strangers becoming friends; of art being a ripple in pond, or a question in a larger conversation.
The process is an important part of the distance travelled, the knowledge, skills and experience acquired along the way. These outcomes will be collected and celebrated, alongside the cold hard facts.
Strengths - Weaknesses - Opportunities - Threats (SWOT)
We have invited Sue Barlow, formerly of Sue Barlow Associates, to guide us through two important sessions: 1., a SWOT analysis of Finding Maindee, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the project (and the threats and opportunities faced during the project and for the future) and 2., a visioning task, which will allow us to incorporate lessons learnt from Finding Maindee to inform the structure and future scope of Maindee Unlimited beyond Ideas: People: Places.
In December 2014, Maindee Unlimited produced an appraisal of the Maindee District Centre, with the help of Newport City Council and Communities First, as part of the Welsh Government funded Town Centre Partnerships initiative.
A copy of this appraisal, Maindee Shops, can be viewed at Llyfrgell Maindee Library +.
The appraisal is a comprehensive report which covers: baseline indicators for issues such as, vacancy rate, foot fall and total number of people employed; an overview of the district centre; the quality of the built environment; current attitudes towards the district centre; and a Directory of Use, amongst other things.
It is a large undertaking to re-visit all aspects of the appraisal, but a process is under way to attempt to assess the impact of Finding Maindee, and the attitudes and statistics that relate to Maindee District Centre in 2019.
Photographing Maindee Shops
As part of our baseline work in December 2014, we commissioned Lianne Bowen to complete a photographic survey of every shop front and business premises in Maindee District Centre.
This tells a story in itself, and we will be repeating the process as part of our evaluation. This will go some way to illustrating how Maindee has transformed over time, and will become a framed and mounted document of change.
Each individual image, from each 'era', will be positioned, patchworked or threaded together to portray Chepstow Road and the surrounding area as you would see it today, or would have seen a few years ago.
The essence of Finding Maindee, as with the overall aim of Ideas: People: Places, was to ‘embed the arts in a genuine and meaningful way’, and a programme of cultural and creative interventions took place throughout the course of Finding Maindee, incorporating all manner of artistic disciplines: performance, textile, drawing and painting, printmaking, crafts and architecture.
Artists and creative practitioners were involved in every step of the journey, from the facilitation of creative, community consultation to find out what our residents and neighbours needed, to designing the interior of the building - which walls to knock down and what colour to paint the ‘new’ walls.
I will be conversing (in person or via paper format) with as many artists and creative practitioners who shared in our journey to share in the peaks and troughs they experienced along the way.
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