Arts, Culture, and Museums TIG Week: GET. EXCITED. by Marcel W. Foster

Marcel W. Foster, MPH, here, and I use they/them pronouns. Before jumping into today’s blog (merely a preview of this week’s contributions) – I invite you to take one simple inhale and one simple exhale.


It is of course an honor and GEEK TRIUMPH to curate the 2023 Arts, Culture, & Museum (ACM) blog posts for AEA365. Who the heck am I? Well, I help co-lead the ACM topical interest group for AEA, serve as faculty with the Center for Arts in Medicine at University of Florida, learn from the best evaluators around at RTI International, continually overcommit, and manage that habit by overeating cheese. Do I need to take another breath?


ANYWAY. We have an incredible range of blog posts between extremely hilarious, profoundly erudite, and altogether inspiring collection of six blog posts! Here’s a sneak peek:

We’ll kick off the week with arts-evaluators Maya Lefkowich & Jennica Nichols, who are the pros in teaching and defining what “arts-based evaluation” is. They bring some insights into how to do this on the virtual sphere: “Translating arts-based techniques for online evaluation planning and data collection continues to be a comedy of errors. Here are three things we learned don’t work…”

Next up, we’ll dive into reflections by museum-focused evaluator Madeleine Pope, who works with HG&Co, and reminds us all to hire more non-evaluators to do evaluation. I’m obsessed with the ingenious line – “Recognizing the racial and wealth inequities of who is allowed into higher education, we benefit from welcoming in non-evaluators into the work.”

Then, we will hear firsthand from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs’ evaluator, Rachael Jenison. She and Madeleine unknowingly lined up in reflecting on the biases that evaluators bring to the process and Rachael explores some theories on how to address this. What’s cooler? Rachael ran a theater for years and reflects that the “…lack of capacity to do more formal analysis also inhibited our potential for growth and stability, an issue that many small organizations face.”

Now that we are deep into theory, the actual living genius, Justin Laing of Hillombo LLC, addresses how the U.S. 501-C3 arts sector both is informed by and informs racial capitalism. This piece “offer(s) a few ideas for identifying ways that institutions in the 501-c3 arts system reproduce the social relations of racial capitalism with the intent to take steps toward a Black Power evaluation framework.” In this incredible contribution, Laing offers a multitude of theorists and ideas that I hope can become ubiquitous in future evaluation literature.

Then shifting into the weekend, we’ll read about an approach to developing a tool that assesses the impact of TimeSlips’ approach of using creative engagement to bring joy, connectedness, and purpose to elders experiencing memory loss. This joint effort blog between the TimeSlips Managing Director (Angela Fingard) and evaluator/physician Daima Machang’u is indeed a joyful read (recommend watching this TED talk by TimeSlips’ founder)!

And of course, as a former choreographer/dancer, I am going to ignore Madeleine and Rachael and be very biased and say the best is for last with evaluation icon Geri Lynn Peak reflecting on dance and evaluation with celebrated choreographer Vincent E. Thomas. These amazing minds explore “Dance as a Means of Documentation, Exploration, Interpretation and Communication of What and How We Value.”

Did I mention these writers are ingenious? Amazing? Time for another deep breath… I don’t know about you, but only this moment of Mariah Carey can really express how I’m feeling about this week so will leave you in her trusted guidance.


The American Evaluation Association is hosting Arts, Culture, and Museums (ACM) 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 AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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