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Evaluating public art in the North of England: Logic models, frameworks and emerging impact


  • David Usher


  • Ian Strange


Public art has increasingly become associated with wider processes of regeneration and place shaping. It is increasingly part of the landscape of regions and cities across the UK which are competing for bigger, better and more iconic trophies to enhance identity on the international stage. In an evidence based policy environment, evaluation has a key role to play though there are pitfalls for the unwary. An evaluation of the Northern Way’s ‘Welcome to the North’ public art programme, undertaken by the authors, revealed that the management information normally associated with evaluation processes was in short supply. This reflected a number of factors including the uncontained audience which views public art, its outcomes and impacts being time lagged and a reluctance amongst the cultural community to be subject to scrutiny. There are good grounds for concern. Public investment in art is controversial and public perception can be mercurial. The paper outlines the evaluation process which developed logic models to understand the ‘theories of change’ through which the programme was designed to influence downstream impacts. This approach helped not only to identify how the programme worked but also the timescale in which, for example, increased visitor spend or changing resident perceptions might feed into house sale volumes in a given local economy. One key finding is the need to allow sufficient lapsed time for outcomes and impacts to become evident.

Suggested Citation

  • David Usher & Ian Strange, 2011. "Evaluating public art in the North of England: Logic models, frameworks and emerging impact," Local Economy, London South Bank University, vol. 26(3), pages 203-213, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:loceco:v:26:y:2011:i:3:p:203-213

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