Report on a conversation: Evaluating remote or online creative activities during the pandemic

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Gray K, Willis J

Year of Publication:

Willis Newson

Publication Type:


This report documents a curated online conversation on the subject of evaluating creative activities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The conversation brought together an invited group of 36 mainly UK-based arts practitioners, evaluators and researchers interested in discussing evaluating creative practice for health and wellbeing during the pandemic. Short keynote presentations from the field provided catalysts for facilitated breakout discussions, with summaries of these presented back to the plenary group. Proceedings were recorded and notes transcribed.

Discussion highlighted the many improvisational and innovative ways in which arts and health practice is responding to Covid-19. However, as arts, health and wellbeing practice is adapting at breakneck speed, the key challenges for evaluation, thrown into sharp relief by the pandemic, remain much the same: a lack of time and resources, concerns around rigour, and ethical worries around including and not burdening participants.

Changes in approaches to evaluating creative activities for arts, health and wellbeing delivered remotely or online during COVID-19 have been prompted by increased flexibility from funders and the continuing desire to find appropriate, accessible and sustainable ways to access participant experience.

Evaluation is considered crucial to honing emerging practice, ensuring appropriateness and meeting participant needs. It continues to be seen as critical in terms of providing evidence of outcomes. However, with funders demonstrating their flexibility, some in the sector are feeling more able to question the type of evaluation that is most useful. This has been accompanied by a shift from measuring quantitative outcomes to qualitative impact and process evaluation. Evaluation of innovations in practice resulting from responses to COVID-19 could help shape the long-term development of the arts and health sector.

Evidence Type: Qualitative Research

Research Purpose: Discussion / Debate

Context: Community

Participant Group: Adults

Art Forms: Multi-Arts

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Gray, K. and Willis, J. (2020). Report on a conversation: Evaluating remote or online creative activities during the pandemic. UK: Willisnewson.