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Evaluation of LightNight 2017

The ICC is delighted to have been commissioned by Open Culture to evaluate LightNight, Liverpool’s annual late night arts festival, which returns to the city on Friday 19th May 2017. The research will be led by Kerry Wilson (Head of Research) with Stephen Crone (Research Assistant) and Gayle Whelan (Research Fellow).

Following consultation with the Open Culture team, the following research objectives have been agreed for the ICC’s evaluation of LightNight 2017:

  1. A 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 2017 professional network;
  2. A standardised [quantitative] evaluation of audience engagement and experience, including a review and revision of existing ‘in-house’ evaluation research instruments and the introduction of social media analysis for 2017;
  3. Assessment of the cost benefit of LightNight as an annual arts festival for Open Culture, collaborating organisations and the Liverpool City Region’s creative and social economies.

Planning and programming processes will be observed and analysed using an ethnographic approach, including regular scheduled interviews with Open Culture team members to review development of the programme. Using the principles of social network analysis, an annotated visual map of the emerging professional network will be created against a timeline of planning activities.

Audience feedback will be collected 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 2017 will also be 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.

The relative cost benefit of LightNight 2017 will be assessed using a social return on investment (SROI) approach. Open Culture has expressed an interest in exploring the social value of the LightNight festival as a Community Interest Company. Analysis of a survey of LightNight partners (to be administered online following LightNight 2017) will be used to design and plan individual social value research workshops with up to three invited case study partner organisations.

Evaluation findings will be summarised in a final report to Open Culture in August 2017.

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