Research and evaluation are key elements in a learning culture, which feeds what Mark Robinson calls ‘situation awareness’ and adaptive capacity – the ability to try things in response to opportunity and fresh ideas, and systematically learn how and whether they work, and thus inform future practice. Increasing awareness leads – when combining with great will – to more powerful performance.
Mark’s work around adaptive resilience has been an ongoing research project, combining what might be formally called a literature review and case study qualitative research. This is then thought through, analysed to bring fresh insight. (Mark’s ability to synthesise disparate sources into fresh thinking has been regularly commented upon.)
Mark has also worked on formal evaluations of a number of projects, combining qualitative information with quantitative data. Mark sees the evaluation of a project as an opportunity for collective learning of all involved, not just the deliverers or commissioners of a project, so often brings people together for evaluation workshops. These use techniques such as After Action Review or reflective practice to create shared learning and atmospheres where people are confident to be honest.
Mark is confident with numbers and stories, and thinks the cultural sector needs both. He likes to get involved with evaluation at the earliest stage possible, so that feedback can shape the programme as it develops, rather than simply ‘next time’, or used in glorious hindsight.
Research and evaluation work has included:
– Every Child: Goal 5 and the protected characteristics – for Arts Council England, with EW Group
– Disabled people in the culture workforce – for Arts Council England, with EW Group
– Critical Friend to Bait (Creative People & Places South East Northumberland)
– 20 Business Model Case Studies – for Arts Marketing Association/Culture Hive
– Festival of the North East
– Creative Case NORTH 2012-2015
– NORTH artist development scheme for Northern Stage
– Live Theatre Education & Participation programme
– The first 6 months of revolution, for Mission Models Money
– Juice Festival 2011 – for Newcastle Gateshead Initiative
– Pixel Palace 2011-13 – for Tyneside Cinema