Evaluator needed for Strategic Touring Project

Posted by

New Writing North is once again producing a show for under 7s as part of Durham Book Festival. We are seeking an evaluator of the programme who will measure the impact of the project against its strategic objectives and make recommendations to ensure any impact is sustainable.

The Worst Princess is an adaptation for theatre of a picture book by Anna Kemp, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie, produced by New Writing North in association with Sage Gateshead and Bait, and funded by Arts Council England Strategic Touring. It will be toured throughout October 2014 to community centres, libraries, schools and a number of professional arts venues in Country Durham, with some performances in libraries in South East Northumberland, Newcastle, Whitley Bay and Hexham, and two performances each in Sheffield and Manchester promoted as part of their book festivals.

The show will be aimed at children under 7 and their families. It will tour for the most part to venues not used to programming performing arts activity and in areas where cultural engagement and cultural provision is limited. The Worst Princess is funded by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Programme. This is year two of that programme. In 2013 we successfully toured My Granny is a Pirate, adapted from the picture book by Val McDermid. We are returning to all the venues we went to last year, with more venues in Durham added to the schedule and new relationships being brokered with libraries and community centres in South East Northumberland in partnership with Bait Creative People and Places programme.

We are once again producing the show in association with Sage Gateshead, and two of their ensemble musicians will perform in the show alongside two professional actors. It will be directed by Ruth Johnson and adapted by Carina Rodney. Andy Stephenson will design the show.

We are currently talking to Sage Gateshead about increasing the audience development offer by combining resources and strategic interests. Last year we ran 27 workshops in music and crafts in libraries in advance of the show; this year we hope to develop longer term residencies in communities, responding to the needs and interests of that community and maximising opportunities to make the most impact.

At the core of the project is a commitment to quality. Although the show needs to be flexible enough to tour to libraries with limited technical capacity, it will be musically sophisticated, with a commitment to creating engaging characters with set, costumes and puppets that are highly theatrical and often surprising.

The objectives of the Strategic Tour of The Worst Princess are:

* To build a sustainable network of venues and promoters in County Durham that can support the touring of performing arts and literature activities
* To establish with libraries as venue and audience development partners
* To introduce quality touring product to communities and develop audiences for it
* To encourage audiences to continue to attend arts activities both in their local venues and further afield

There may be certain themes that we decide to focus the evaluation on, but broadly the evaluation will cover the following areas:

Who is the audience (age, mobility, postcode, proximity to venue)?
Do they regularly attend arts and cultural events?
Barriers to attending
What made them come, what were the successful marketing initiatives?

Audience development
What was the impact of our audience development programme in encouraging people to attend the show, and did this have other benefits?

What was it that encouraged libraries to host the performance?
Was it successful?
What are the longer term benefits?
Recommendations for future initiatives in libraries

Community venues
Why did they choose to programme The Worst Princess?
Did the show achieve the objectives the venue set for it (eg, audience size, new attenders, marketing opportunities, new relationships)?
Would the venue host similar events in the future?
Do you think the audience development workshops helped in attracting new audiences?
Would the venue host literature events for adults in the future?
Is there a sustainable future in relation to literature and performing arts programming?

Data will be collected via a combination of questionnaires, focus groups and interviews. We also want the evaluator to draw on the evaluation findings from last year’s project, and produce a report taking into account the impact of the project over two years.

There will be a need to collect and analyse quantitative data to back up the qualitative evaluation.

Total budget available for evaluation: £6,000

(NB There is a seperate budget to support the collection of data in each of the venues)

The show will begin rehearsals in September 2014 and tour throughout October. We would like the evaluation report delivered by the end of January 2105. We would like the evaluator to start work on planning the evaluation in early July.

If you would like to apply for the work, email Anna Disley at [email protected] with your CV, including the names of two referees, and a short letter outlining why you are qualified to take on the role by Monday 23 June.

Please note the role does require regular site visits and meetings with New Writing North. We therefore suggest this role may not be suitable for people outside of commuting distance of County Durham.