Evaluation of LightNight – Liverpool’s annual late-night arts festival (2014-19)

The ICC was delighted to be the official research partner of Open Culture in relation to the evaluation of LightNight, Liverpool’s annual late night arts festival. We provided evaluation support for the festival between 2014 and 2019, led by former ICC researcher Stephen Crone, with the support of Kerry Wilson (Head of Research).

Approaches to the evaluation typically included:

  1. Formative [qualitative] evaluation of the planning and cultural programming process, including engagement of event sponsors, delivery partners, artistic commissions, volunteers and subsequent development of the LightNight professional network;
  2. Standardised [quantitative] evaluation(s) of audience engagement and experience including the introduction of social media analysis in 2017;
  3. Assessment of the cost benefit of LightNight as an annual arts festival for Open Culture, collaborating organisations (e.g. arts venues) and the Liverpool City Region’s creative and social economies using contingent valuation techniques.

Planning and programming processes were typically observed and analysed using an ethnographic approach, including regular scheduled interviews with Open Culture team members to review development of the programme. Audience feedback was collected annually during the event via an Audience Survey questionnaire, designed to collect data on audience demographics, participation patterns, motivations to participate, artistic quality and attitudinal responses to LightNight.  A ‘sentiment analysis’ of social media posts relating to LightNight was also undertaken. This includes for example coding Tweets posted during the event (identified using hashtags or keyword searches) according to the sentiment expressed and activity/venue attended. Partner organisations were also surveyed annually following the event.

It was a pleasure to work with Open Culture, building the longitudinal evidence base for the programme and helping to secure repeat financial support for the event from Arts Council England.

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