Arts, Culture, and Museums TIG Week: Enhancing Vaccine Confidence in a Culturally Responsive Way by Brianna Smith and Myrline Newton

Hi there! We’re Myrline Newton and Brianna Smith–Program Managers of Equitable Vaccines! Myrline here, I am typically the one “on the ground,” facilitating events. Brianna here, I typically handle “behind the scenes” tasks like developing program resources and also serve as one of the program evaluators.

Program Snapshot

Equitable Vaccines is a collaborative initiative between Atlanta’s Out of Hand Theater, the Georgia Department of Public Health, CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort), and Performance Hypothesis (a leading arts and health consulting firm). This community-centered program seeks to boost confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine among Black citizens in rural Georgia by merging the power of art and meaningful discussion.

Through community events, which feature an artistic asset and facilitated conversations surrounding community members’ thoughts about the COVID-19 vaccine, the program encourages participants to make informed decisions around vaccinations. Also during events, participants can have their specific vaccine-related concerns addressed by CORE and receive a COVID vaccine on-site. Beyond entertainment, it is hoped the artistic asset inspires discussion, critical thinking, and learning. Equitable Vaccines is committed to increasing vaccine accessibility, reducing vaccine deliberation while boosting vaccine confidence. Aligned with the program’s goal of being community centered, Equitable Vaccines aspires to conduct a Culturally Responsive Evaluation.

Our Eval Approach

A program that incorporates a Culturally Responsive Evaluation (CRE) recognizes that components including context, locations, perspectives, and qualities of culture are important factors in evaluation. Additionally, CRE focuses on engaging community members representative of the target population throughout all phases of the evaluation to center the voices of those being served and allow program designers to create a program that will likely be valued and effective. Equitable Vaccines aims to adhere to these principles in several ways. First, the artistic asset featured at events is influenced directly by the views and experiences of the community. As part of our formative evaluation, focus groups are held with individuals in our target population. Themes are then extracted from these discussions and reflected in an artistic asset. Equitable Vaccines also incorporates CRE by recruiting members of the community to serve as program implementers. Lastly, as part of process evaluation, the program implementers–who facilitate events–complete a post-event report describing their observations of immediate impacts and suggestions for improvement. While Equitable Vaccines is carrying out CRE in multiple ways, we believe improvements can always be made. As the program continues, regular meetings with program implementers will be scheduled to collect more detailed insights around the impact of the program and how to improve it, further uplifting the input of the community we’re serving. 

If any of this sounds familiar, you may have attended one of two presentations this year at the Culturally Responsive Evaluation & Assessment or AEA Conference!

Co-Presenters Dania Hussain and Marcel Foster 
at the CREA Conference, Chicago, IL, September 2023
Co-Presenters Dania Hussain and Marcel Foster
at the CREA Conference, Chicago, IL, September 2023
Co-Presenter, Performer, and Playwright Thomas Brazzle staging “Vax it Like Jordan” at the AEA Conference, Indianapolis, IN, October 2023
Co-Presenter, Performer, and Playwright Thomas Brazzle staging “Vax it Like Jordan” at the AEA Conference, Indianapolis, IN, October 2023

Hot Tip

In our experience, putting power in the hands of the community being served only bolsters a program’s impact and value. In short, we recommend equity-focused approaches–such as CRE–be adopted in evaluation!

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Arts, Culture, and Museums (ACM) TIG Week. The contributions all week come from ACM 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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