Using creative and participatory methods, the Creative Communities Unit is involved in evaluating a range of projects.

What is creative evaluation?

Creative evaluation uses creative tools and techniques to make an evaluation accessible to a wide range of people. The creative tools are an attractive way of encouraging people to take part in the research, as well as making the process enjoyable, quick and easy.   The mere fact that the tool is ‘different’ and an unusual way of asking people a research question encourages people to take part.

Photo by Winstanley Nadin
Photo by Winstanley Nadin

The visual nature of the creative evaluation tools mean that they are more likely to appeal to a wide range of learning styles and can be adapted to suit the project being evaluated. For example, creative tools might be low tech, such as a timeline on a long sheet of paper, or high quality artistic pieces by commissioned artists.

Nic Gratton from the Creative Communities Unit has written the report Creative Evaluation Techniques for Creative People and Places, explaining some of the ideas and tools, such as those used in the evaluation of Appetite and First Art events.



What is participatory evaluation?

Participatory evaluation is a method of evaluation that has local people, groups or communities at the heart of the wish tree outdoorsevaluation process. Communities become co researchers and gain research skills as well as having a direct opportunity to control and influence research questions and processes. The CCU’s Get Talking model of participatory research is an embedded evaluation programme to start and sustain a conversation about an issue which is important to them.

Participatory evaluation offers a sustainable approach to evaluation which develops the skills of your staff, stakeholders or community. We have proven examples of where the process of participatory research has led to strengthened partnerships and improved relationships with clients or research participants.

The CCU’s Get Talking model of participatory action research incorporates both participatory evaluation and creative evaluation tools and techniques. While CCU also uses creative evaluation tools outside of the participatory methodology, including people in the process of every evaluation project is very important to us.

The CCU is currently involved in the evaluation of three projects that are funded through the Arts Council’s Creative People and Places fund:

appetite stoke logo


Appetite, a three year programme to get more people to experience and be inspired by the arts in Stoke-on-Trent.






Creative Black Country is a three year campaign which aims to make the most of creative talent in the Black Country.





First Art aim to bring inspiring cultural experiences within reach of everyone in Ashfield, Bolsover, Mansfield and NE Derbyshire.




What we offer

The CCU welcomes the opportunity to discuss your evaluation needs with you. The following are an indication of we can offer:

1) Independent evaluations

We can work with you to ensure that your evaluation is engaging, robust, flexible, and offers opportunities to develop skills, knowledge and understanding of the evaluation process. We will identify the most appropriate approach for your project and develop creative ways of engaging with a wide range of stakeholders, staff or customers.

2) Training and CPD

We offer training courses in creative evaluation techniques and participatory action research and evaluation. These courses can be commissioned for a whole group, in which case we will work with you to ensure the content of the course is designed specifically around the needs of your project.

3) Designing and developing creative evaluation tools

After discussing your needs, research questions and ideas, we will design and develop a set of creative evaluation tools ready for you to take away and consult with your audience.

4) Mentoring of individuals or groups to support evaluation

We can work with individuals to coach them to deliver an evaluation in their organisation, or can work with a group as part of our peer mentoring programme.

For more information about the evaluation services we offer or our existing projects, please get in touch.


Case study: Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS)

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service approached us to support them in consulting with young people in the development of their Children and Young People’s fire service photoStrategy. We trained 6 members of staff in Get Talking, and offered additional mentoring to apply their learning to their project. SFRS consulted with over 200 young people using creative consultation tools developed with the support of us at CCU.

The new Children and Young People’s Strategy now includes the views of a far broader range of young people than previously. In addition, the team have identified that the process of creative tools to carry out their research helped to develop stronger partnerships with key Children and Young people services in Staffordshire, and helped them to build better relationships with children and young people in the region.