Wrestling with Beauty: Putting the Aesthetic into Arts Evaluation

Applied Practice: Evidence and Impact in Theatre, Music and Art
Hilary Glow
Katya Johanson
Edited by
Matthew Reason
Nick Rowe
Published by

For two years we were involved in a large-scale evaluation of a state-funded arts programme in Victoria, Australia, which supported a range of activities selected for their capacity to increase people’s awareness of the harms of race-based discrimination.

One project stood out to us for its artistic qualities. Held together by the artistic vision of a skilled director, the content and the representation of the people and their stories were poignant. The films appeared to us, the evaluators, to be more confronting, but also more compelling and memorable, than other funded projects. As researchers, this left us with a dilemma: how to approach the issue of aesthetics in conducting an arts evaluation. We chose to use the frustration that follows a missed opportunity to reflect on the qualities of the films that might make their impact affective.