Researching the Social Impact of Arts and Disability: Applying a New Empirical Tool and Method

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Voluntas, 2018, 29 (3), pp. 574 - 589
Issue Date:
2018-06-01
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© 2018, International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University. This paper has a twofold focus: to establish a method of assessing the potential social impact of arts and disability projects and to apply this method to ten such projects. It does so by using a newly developed ‘ripple’ model that conceptualises social impact in terms of the development of active citizenship on the part of all participants over time. The model identifies ten factors (programme activity, welcoming, belonging, programme social values, individual social values, programme networks, individual networks, skills and creativity, programme wider social impact, and individual wider social impact) which evolve through four progressive stages. The original model is empirically adapted for application to arts and disability projects. Qualitative data were collected in the form of interviews, surveys and media reports across ten case studies, each representing a major arts and disability project offering a professional outcome for an external audience. The qualitative data were coded to provide a simple scoring tool for each case. The results support the application of the model in this context. Furthermore, findings indicate three critical conditions which enable projects to generate considerable positive social impact beyond the individual; ensemble in nature; project embeddedness; and networks and partnerships.
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