Can an online portal for sharing data on social impact help community arts organisations to become more e ective and more fundable?
There are two driving forces behind community arts. The first is offering high quality artistic participatory activity. The second is for that experience to be transformative for the lives of the people and communities taking part, often by providing people with a voice or a means of expression in the face of disadvantage. But transformational impact on individuals is not always easily measured – sometime the most powerful impact is ‘soft’ or immeasurable, the benefits may be realised long after an intervention has taken place, or it may not be possible to separate out the influence of other factors that have brought about that change.
Yet in our challenging funding environment it is more important than ever to be able to demonstrate the impact of our work in a robust way. The resources available for community arts from traditional sources is diminishing in absolute terms, and an increasing number of arts organisations are delivering socially engaged practice, meaning there is greater competition for what is there.
We have come to the view that there is now a need for a central database on the impact of community arts activity in Wales. We believe this is a necessary step in the journey towards raising the standards of evidence of the sector. Through this process of research and development we have begun to establish what this might look like and what the attitude of the sector is towards the idea.
Our working title for this project is the Arts Impact Portal.
We have created a prototype and tested it with community arts organisations. We are now in the process of increasing the volume of data available on the portal so that we can begin to test the idea with funders and other stakeholders to secure their backing. Even in the short time since we have started this project, we have facilitated many conversations about how we bring together the evidence necessary to clearly demonstrate the unique power of community arts to transform lives.