Evaluation: How can the heritage sector better share evaluation data and create a shared evidence base?

Heritage 2020’s third #HeritageChat was held on the 18th January 2018. It explored the theme of evaluation and, in particular, whether the sector could make better use of existing evaluation data, and whether there is scope for a shared evidence base. The topic of evaluation is a common thread in all of Heritage 2020’s work, but is especially relevant to the activities of the “Public Engagement” and the “Constructive Conservation and Sustainable Management” working groups. The session was run jointly by @HeritageChat and by ERS Research & Consultancy @ERS_Limited: The chat explored six questions as prompts for the discussion: We’ve compiled the answers to each question below, but you can also look back at the conversation chronologically on Twitter via #HeritageChat. The discussion first addressed the nature of evaluation and the different types of evaluation data that heritage projects tend to collect. Contributors shared guidance and resources: The discussion then touched on the relationship between the evaluation data required by funders and the types of data required for internal planning. How can evaluation create added value? ERS’s word of caution on the need for honesty in self-evaluation sparked a debate on admitting failures as well as successes: How can we embed a culture and practice of evaluation? Suggestions included demystifying the process, embedding it from the very start of a project and encouraging discussions on the purpose of evaluation. The conversation also touched on the benefits and logistics of sharing data and frameworks: Finally, #HeritageChat considered how to adapt models from other sectors – the question gathered very few responses: ERS and @HeritageChat wrapped up this productive session with a few final thoughts. Shout-out to the following contributors who highlighted things happening elsewhere in the sector on the topic of evaluation: Many thanks to everyone who participated in this month’s #HeritageChat – our next chat will take place on the 15 February (13.00-14.00) on the topic of Diversity.