Careful and Curious: A Transformative Ethos for Artistic Evaluation

Vahri Mckenzie, Denise Thwaites, Cathy Hope

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The logic of government subsidy recognises that there are forms of value not suitably captured by exchanges of the free market. Yet there remains a growing impetus for arts organisations and individual artists to measure and articulate the specific value of their practices through formal processes of evaluation. In the context of government subsidy, evaluation typically misses opportunities to capture unforeseen insights that artists and communities may articulate through alternative forms of evaluation. This article offers a conceptual discussion and illustrative example of how more open and exploratory evaluation methodologies may intersect with existing government frameworks. We draw on the work of feminist economists J.K Gibson-Graham and Marilyn Waring, alongside Maria Puig de la Bellacasa’s “triptych of care as ‘ethics-work-affect’” (2017, 13) and Perry Zurn’s understanding of “feminist curiosity” (2021, 1). We demonstrate our model’s application in the case of the ACT Government’s Creative Recovery and Resilience Program and their piloting of the Cultural Development Network evaluation framework, reflecting upon the potential of evaluation as a process that generates value itself by developing a language of possibilities for artists and communities (Gibson-Graham 2006). Our evaluation approach is careful in that it values care, and curious in that it is committed to experimental and creative-centred methods adopted across project design, delivery and evaluation. Rather than a literal framework to adopt, our creative response to existing evaluation tools and instruments advocates with the “transformative ethos” (Puig de la Bellacasa 2011, 100) of a careful and curious approach to evaluation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalPerformance Paradigm
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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