My name is Ivonne Chand O’Neal, Co-Chair of the American Evaluation Association’s Arts Culture and Audiences Topical Interest Group (TIG) and Chief Research Officer at Creativity Testing Services (CTS), a research consulting firm specializing in the creation and validation of creativity assessments, and applications of creativity testing in corporate, educational, and artistic environments. In this role, one example of my work is to conduct evaluations of national performing arts centers throughout the U.S., examining such themes as board development, the impact of artistic programming on the American public, the development of exceptional talent, and the impact of the arts on students in PreK – 12 environments. Prior to my work with CTS, I evaluated creativity as Director of Research and Evaluation at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Creativity Consultant with the Disney Channel, Director of Research at the David Geffen UCLA School of Medicine, and as a Curator of the Museum of Creativity.
Lessons Learned: In a recent example of the application of metrics to assess creativity to inform artistic programming, my colleagues and I worked with artists in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to understand the trajectory of artistic development to determine how to shape artistic programming for early elementary and middle school students at the Kennedy Center. We asked artists about such things as their interests and hobbies as children, the age they knew they had exceptional talent and skill, and the age their teacher/mentor/instructor put them forward in recognition of their exceptional talent and skill. Comparing the artists to an age-matched control group of performing arts center interns, we were surprised to find that at the critical age of 9 or 10, the artists dropped the majority of hobbies and interests common to elementary school-aged children, and focused solely on dance; while the control group continued to pursue interests in sports, music, dance, and science and math clubs. These types of findings are critical to arts programmers and educators alike as they seek to use their resources to provide the most cognitively and developmentally appropriate arts programming for elementary school students, as well as master classes and instruction for those young students with exceptional skill and ability.
Using Creativity Testing in evaluating programs is a focus that has recently emerged as a way to boost innovation and productivity in both non-profit and for- profit organizations. Stakeholders have been eager to add this component to existing evaluations as a way to foster a new way of approaching process and product-oriented work.
Hot Tip: Be bold and clear in offering new rigorous methods to assess impact in organizations with which you work. Stakeholders are often interested in finding a new approach to address uninspired or ineffective programming and look to the evaluation community for cutting edge options to address these concerns.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Arts, Culture, and Audiences (ACA) TIG Week. The contributions all week come from ACA TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.