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Measuring success in the arts

I recently served as a grant application reviewer for a large national arts funder. I read proposals from small and large arts organizations from across the country. I was struck by how many of these organizations struggled with the question, "How will you measure the success of the proposed project?" All too often, the answer was something like, "Well, if a lot of people come, then it was a success!"

Measurements of success can and should be inextricably linked to a project's design: What, specifically, does your organization intend to accomplish by presenting a particular program, event or initiative? In what concrete ways could you measure success? Attendance numbers are only one means of measurement. Some others:

Did audience members take any desired action following the program or event? Did they, for example, subscribe to your organization’s social media feeds or make a charitable contribution?

Be creative – and be concrete!

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