Exploring inventive and digital (mobile) approaches to cultural evaluation


Exploring the use of Photoshop to address visual ethics


Knowledge exchange through publication and conference

Previous projects

Debates over instrumental versus intrinsic perspectives of impact remain an area attracting international attention.

Evaluation discourse can appear overly complex to those tasked with meeting delivery and evaluation objectives. Once funding for a project has been secured the evaluation of it can (quite justifiably) end up pushed to the end of project.

Perceptions of the relationship between impact and funding mean that advocating the merits of a project drive the (self) evaluation process.

My interest in (arts) evaluation remains concerned with its purpose to understand the merit and worth of a project or programme.


Who defines the parameters of an evaluation?

What types of information are used to demonstrate the impact of the arts?

(How) are evaluations ultimately used by cultural organisations and their funders?

What image would your evaluation practice take?

....some questions worth asking.

Showcase #5

Arts evaluation

The dominant approach to measuring value in the cultural sector has been the use of quantitative measures of impact (counting footfall, gathering visitor surveys), however, while these approaches have their merits, they are limited in their ability to understand the complexity of arts and cultural encounters.

Welcome. I am a research and evaluation consultant specialising in the arts, creative industries and cultural sectors. I am also a member of the Centre for Research in Digital Education and the University of Edinburgh.


With sixteen years of experience working in and researching the arts my work has developed around issues of cultural value and evaluation.


My doctoral research considered how (and why) beliefs about the transformative power of the arts might be acknowledged when evaluating the arts. Building on this, my postdoctoral research has explored creative and inventive approaches to digital and mobile evaluation.


I have taught a range of research methods courses at postgraduate level including the Sources of Knowledge (philosophical foundations of research), Conceptualising Research and Planning Research. I also have a specific interests in the use of visual research methods and visual ethics.


I have supervised students studying a range of subjects including:

- bilingual education

- mobile learning

- peer learning

- arts and dance education in China

- mental health services in UK HE institutions

- transformative learning

Claire Sowton PhD MSc MBA MA

Research and Consultancy

Showcase #3

Transformative power of the arts


My PhD considered how (and why) beliefs about the transformative power of the arts might be acknowledged when evaluating the arts.


A visual ethnography of transformative learning in a collaborative community arts film, my doctoral research explores the arts project as a transformative environment.


Building on research exploring the transformative power of travel, my research considered how the (imagined) distance travelled and duration of engagement with the arts project influence participants' experience.


Claire Sowton

Cultural research and consultancy