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S3 Ep 1: Empathy

Hosted by Stephen Welsh, this episode of Reflecting Value: Evaluation Principles in Practice explores the role of empathy in evaluation.

One of the ‘people-centred’ Evaluation Principles, empathy can be elusive. It can be hard to talk about it practically. But if we want to make evaluation count, we have to make it count for everyone.

What steps can we take to be more understanding evaluators? How can we create a safe evaluation environment – one that can bring in missing voices with unique opinions? And how can we overcome our own expectations of an evaluation so that it really gives back to our audiences and participants?

Join us as we discuss listening, failure and ‘hanging out’ – and what they all have to do with empathy in evaluation.

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Referenced in this episode:

Guest biographies

Euella Jackson and Jess Bunyan

Euella Jackson and Jess Bunyan

Euella Jackson (she/her) and Jess Bunyan (she/her) are cultural practitioners who currently serve as co-directors of Rising Arts Agency.

Rising Arts Agency is a community and not-for-profit (CIC) creativiy agency based in Bristol. Led by young underrepresented creative thinkers aged 18-30, they use distinctive ways of working and facilitating, drawing on years of production experience and an intersectional community to do things differently and create meaningful sector change.

Rising Arts Agency grew out of young people’s frustratings with how inaccessible, exclusive and exploitative the creative sector can be. It was founded in 2016 by artist and facilitator Kamina Walton who, after five years of stewardship, intentionaly handed over the leadership to two young people, Jess and Euella. They are actively continuing this tradition of sharing power with young leaders.

Alex de Little

Alex de Little

Alex De Little is a sonic artist and researcher with bases in Leeds and London, UK. His practice encompasses installation, composition, performance and workshops. It is concerned with the interrogation of listening as a practice of world-making -a way of thinking into and through environments, notions of self, and social relations.

Alex is currently funded by the Horizons Institute and attached to the Centre to undertake a longitudinal evaluation of the My Leeds 2023 Neighbourhood Hosts, a community-based project which aims to work with residents across Leeds to explore their stories and culture. Working closely with the LEEDS 2023 team, Alex will “hang out” with neighbourhood hosts and other LEEDS 2023 project participants. Using this research approach, he will explore the different co-creation processes employed to help inform the programme’s legacy planning.

A person pictured outdoors against a metal structure, smiling while wearing a chequered jacket.

Morvern Cunningham

Morvern Cunningham (she/they) is a freelance creative, currently Creative Lead at Culture Collective – a Scottish Government funded network of 26 participatory arts projects across Scotland, shaped by local communities alongside artists and creative organisations. They also co-facilitate the Creative Community Hubs Network project based in Edinburgh with their Whale Arts colleague Tiki Muir.

During the pandemic, Morvern authored two pamphlets:“You’ll Have Had Your City?” and Edinburgh Reimagined, which focus on a better future for the cultural sector in Edinburgh. Morvern’s third pamphlet, Back To The Future: Why we need to go back to future thinking post-pandemic has just been published by Out of the Blueprint. Following on from this, in 2021 Morvern co-devised hybrid participatory reimagination event Future Culture Edinburgh with Creative Informatics colleague Vikki Jones. In addition, Morvern is a FailSpace champion, promoting the toolkit developed by the AHRC-funded research project exploring how the cultural sector can better recognise, acknowledge and learn from failure.

Photo of person wearing white shirt and black denim jacket, leaning against a city street wall with graffiti and a garage door.

Stephen Welsh

Stephen (he/him) is a creative freelancer specialising in co-creation. From 2007 until 2020 he was the Curator of Living Cultures and Acting Deputy Head of Collections at Manchester Museum. Previously he was Project Curator at the International Slavery Museum, National Museums Liverpool.

Since 2016, he has been a committee member for the National Lottery Heritage Fund North. In 2021 he was appointed as a trustee for Homotopia, the UK’s longest-running LGBTQIA+ arts and culture festival based in Liverpool, and as an advisory panel member for the Arts and Humanities Research Council project Towards an Inclusive GLAM Hub.

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