Evaluating beyond the metrics: understanding the value of participatory arts through plurality of voice

PhD Thesis

Nilles, K. (2023). Evaluating beyond the metrics: understanding the value of participatory arts through plurality of voice . PhD Thesis London South Bank University School of Arts and Creative Industries https://doi.org/10.18744/lsbu.94655
AuthorsNilles, K.
TypePhD Thesis

This thesis investigates the potentialities of holistic and participant-centric approaches to evaluating the social impact of participatory arts programmes. The current framing of the social impact of the arts is problematised through exploration of existing discourse, before interrogating principles and methods from ethnographic and reflexive research, drawing upon Freirean pedagogy and constructivist approaches to knowledge generation. I consider how the binary of top-down instrumentalised evaluation frameworks and bottom-up approaches can be disrupted, to build a stronger knowledge base of social impact of participatory arts engagement. Through a critical case study of Lyric Hammersmith Theatre’s work with young people, with a focus on its START programme for participants not in education, employment or training, this thesis invites participants to be the knowledge holders and changemakers of their lives. Through the exploration of pluralistic experience and emerging outcomes, I move towards defining impact, and placing ownership of change with participants, as a result of participation. My research contributes to the current discourse on the evidence base and value of participation in the arts and to emerging evaluation methodologies. The findings which emerge through this research, humanise and celebrate both the individual and collective experience. Finally, this thesis proposes a new conceptual framework for evaluating the impact of participatory arts programmes and understanding change, underpinned by friendship, with-ness, and hope.

PublisherLondon South Bank University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.18744/lsbu.94655
File Access Level
Publication dates
Print06 Jul 2023
Publication process dates
Deposited14 Jul 2023
Permalink -


Download files

Nilles K Final Thesis 23May24.pdf
License: CC BY-NC 4.0
File access level: Open

  • 35
    total views
  • 160
    total downloads
  • 4
    views this month
  • 9
    downloads this month

Export as