8. Documentation & Evaluation

Documentation and evaluation are useful for:

  • Recording the atmosphere and experiences for the enjoyment of organisers and participants
  • Providing reports to media
  • Providing reports to existing and potential funding bodies
  • Donating to the Local Studies collection for the enjoyment and education of future generations
  • Consideration of what to do/what not to do next time

8.1 When to Document

Most of the recording for documentation will be done on the day of the event, although it may be useful to document some of the pre-event activity, eg. minutes of meetings.

8.2 How to Document

Recording what happens at the event can be done by:

Press Clippings

Collect all press clippings from newspapers which have articles about your event.

Photographs

Photographs are commonly used to document events because they are fairly inexpensive, easy to organise and provide a good result.  The Hawkesbury Camera Club or local camera shop may be interested in photographing the event.  The camera shop could display some of the photos in the store and sell copies to the community.

Surveys

Make a collection of comments from people who attend the event as well as those involved with the event, such as participants and volunteers.  These comments can be gathered through written evaluations, letters of support or through tape recordings on the day.  A written evaluation form, if carefully constructed, is also an opportunity to gather statistics about satisfaction levels at the event which can then be used for sponsor reports, funding applications and so on.  It can also help you to work out which of your promotional strategies worked the best.

Video/sound recordings

These can be very impressive but need to be edited and can be quite time-consuming and expensive, especially if you are paying someone to do it.  Local colleges or schools who have access to audiovisual equipment may wish to video the event as part of a project or they may be willing to supply equipment.

8.3 Why Evaluate

It is important to provide all those who participated with an opportunity to comment on the event once it is over.  This will be a chance to review the event, its highlights and its shortcomings, and should be an aid to future planning.  It can also provide an important resource for future students and historians, so check with the Local Studies Librarian to see whether she would like a copy of your evaluation for the local studies collection Phone 02 4560 4466.

Evaluation can provide a chance to make a critical assessment of the event:

  • to state lessons learnt
  • to identify the outcomes
  • to review the aims and objectives
  • to identify problems and to debrief the workers, participants and the community

Most importantly, it is useful to send to sponsors to ensure their support next year.  If you give your sponsor the opportunity to participate in the evaluation it can make them feel involved and encourage them to continue with their support.  They may also be able to come up with solutions to any problems.

Ideally as many people as are involved in the event should be involved in the evaluation.  This will guarantee a more realistic account of the event.  It should involve monitoring all the processes of the event from the beginning to the end.  The task of monitoring particular aspects of the event can be delegated to committee members.  For example, the person responsible for publicity should collect all press clippings.  Coordinating the evaluation may fall into the hands of the event coordinator or to someone from outside.

8.4 How to evaluate

How you evaluate will be influenced by your aims and objectives. If the main aim of the event is to attract as many people as possible then you would evaluate the event in terms of numbers and audience sizes.  Hopefully your evaluation will extend much further than only quantitative judgements and consider the range of experiences that the community gained from the event.  For the most comprehensive evaluation use a variety of both quantitative and qualitative judgments.

General Meeting

Hold a general meeting about two weeks (no longer if possible) after the day of the event.  Invite all those involved in the planning, implementation and participation of the event, including stall holders, performers, key organisers, sponsors, staff and key community groups.  The purpose of the meeting will be to gather a collection of views on the event as a whole.  The form this meeting takes is up to organisers, however an informal tone is probably best so that people feel confident and relaxed about being involved in the evaluation process.  At this meeting the committee member responsible for a particular area can take notes for their evaluation report.
 
Discussion of the event can be started by getting everyone to comment on what they thought went well or could have been done better.  Problems that were faced should be discussed and solutions suggested and implemented for the future.  All opinions and thoughts should be recorded so that they can be referred to when writing up the evaluation.

Outside Evaluation

Another way of evaluating is to get someone not involved in your event to do it.  However if you adopt this method it is crucial that the person is very familiar with the aims and objectives of your event.  Provide them with a clear brief so that they can analyse your event in an appropriate way.  They should commence their evaluation before the event starts and attend the event day/s.

8.5 Putting Together an Analysis Report

After gathering people's perspectives on the event, collect the information in the form of a report. The report should contain:

  • aims and objectives
  • successful and unsuccessful aspects of the event
  • people's responses
  • collection of press clippings
  • photographs
  • financial statements
  • event programme and other promotional/publicity material
  • future directions/recommendations for the future.
  • nb documentation/evaluation costs money so should be included in your event Budget.

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