Evaluation Plan: Starksboro (VT) Art & Soul Project, The Orton Family Foundation
Art & Soul is a project of the Orton Family Foundation. The Orton Family Foundation, in partnership with the Town of Starksboro and the Vermont Land Trust hypothesize that, by getting in touch with deeper community values and connections to place, citizens will be able to improve upon traditional approaches to planning and make better decisions about the future of their communities. With the Art & Soul Civic Engagement Project they are testing whether the use of different forms of art will catalyze articulation of the unique assets of a community, in turn impacting community decision-making. The project is being piloted in Starksboro, VT, with artist-in-residence, Matthew Perry. It is applying arts-based methods of community engagement to generate and inform conversations around values and community. Through storytelling, painting, dance, music, theater, media arts, photography, sculpture, poetry and prose and/or video, Starksboro is bringing together disparate groups of citizens to address the positive and negative aspects of the community. Townspeople will identify ways to reflect the articulated values and aspirations sparked by the story gathering and art making projects in concrete actions, policies and choices shaping the future of Starksboro and its land use. Stakeholders hold a range of expectations for the Starksboro project from fairly straightforward concrete accomplishments, e.g., an art product is produced, to community transformation, e.g. younger residents and newcomers begin to assume leadership positions. The evaluation plan attempts to capture that full range of desired expectations organized in three phases: process (short term); outcome (during the life of the project); and impact (long term, post project results). For each of the three phases, the evaluation plan lists the major questions to be answered in an evaluation related to desired outcomes; the indicators of desired behavioral or attitudinal change; potential data collection instruments and strategies that are appropriate for the indicators; notes about the target sample for a particular data collection strategy; timing of data collection; and, where relevant, any appropriate comparisons that might be made. The indicators can be used in a number of ways: a beginning point for developing instrumentation; the framework for content analysis of documents and records; a frame for other types of documentation, e.g., the film documentary; and a file structure for maintaining anecdotal information about the project.