Beacon Institute Evaluation Methodology Framework

Imagining Autism developed a range of qualitative and quantitative measures for evaluating changes in communication, social interaction and imagination for children with a diagnosis of autism.

With children
•Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale (ADOS)
•Assessment of receptive and expressive language
•Emotion recognition
•Theory of mind
•Play and social interaction
•Challenging behaviour

Practitioner ratings of engagement in sessions With parents
•Adaptive behaviour and use of language
•Executive functioning
•Autism symptoms

With teachers
•Use of language
•Executive functioning
•Autism symptoms
•Strengths and difficulties

Elusive Evidence is a network established at York St John. The network hosted a symposium in June 2014, bringing together researchers and practitioners from different art form and disciplinary backgrounds, representing a range of approaches in this area. This event began the processes of drawing up typologies relating to evidence in participatory arts, sought to establish connections between different fields of expertise and used illustrative case studies to provide exemplars of practice. Elusive Evidence also seeks to support and run alongside the socially engaged arts practice and research undertaken at York St John University. This includes projects such as Converge, which provides creative educational opportunities for people who use mental health services and was awarded the Medipex Innovation in the NHS Award in 2014 (see And also other projects such as the Centre for Arts and Narrative ( as well as research taking place in dance, music and fine art in a range of contexts. Elusive Evidence is an ongoing project that seeks to work in dialogue and collaboration with colleagues
Sydney de Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury Christ Church University is seeking to develop an evidence base for the impact of the arts in health contexts. Researchers at Sidney De Haan in collaboration with a cultural regeneration consultancy Nick Ewbank Associates conducted a project in three coastal towns identified as having significant investment in culture-led regeneration in recent years, focusing on the impacts of Turner Contemporary in Margate, the Creative Foundation in Folkestone and the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill on Sea. Launched at the House of Commons in May 2014, the resulting report, ‘Cultural Value and Social Capital’ the three organisations were found to make a “significant, but at present largely undefined, contribution to social capital and to delivering health and wellbeing in their respective communities”, but outside the specialist field of arts in health practice “this important aspect of cultural value is currently hidden”. The researchers would “welcome the introduction of simple-to-use evaluation tools that might shed light on levels of wellbeing generated by their everyday activities”. The report was authored by Trish Vella-Burrows, Nick Ewbank, Stephanie Mills,Matt Shipton, Stephen Clift and Fred Gray. Both the report and a short film of the House of Commons launch event can be viewed here.

The Beacon Institute will contribute to this endeavour in the following ways: 1. Engage a range of participatory arts organisations, practitioners and educators in discussion of evaluation methods and quality debates. 2. Participate in the development of the Sounds of intent framework in multisensory contexts and in artistic activities for people with autism or learning difficulties 3. Develop this mapping and coding framework in conjunction with the Imagining Autism evaluation methods to contribute to a tool kit for measuring changing levels of engagement in participatory arts activities 4. Collate and examine a range of mechanisms for measuring well being 5. Develop a database of qualitative and quantitative methods as an online resource, featuring evaluation measures from the projects and case studies contributing to the consortium 6. Test and adapt the system in a range of contexts and explore the potential for development as a methodology for analysing, documenting, measuring and evaluating participatory arts practice 7. Explore the potential of the methods for adaptation to use in Arts, Health and Education contexts 8. Publish and disseminate outcomes