An impact playbook for cultural heritage? This ain’t gonna be easy

Author: Beth Daley
12 June 2017 Comment

Earlier this year, Europeana and friends launched Impkt.tools (currently in beta), a community for cultural heritage professionals to learn how to understand the impact of cultural heritage. The initiative is supported by the digital heritage networks of Europe, America, Brazil, New Zealand and Australia.

Impkt.tools aims to measure and assess impact, helping the cultural heritage sector tell their stories in a way that is univocally convincing thus enabling us all to design projects that create more impact.

Impact methodology diagram

Europeana CC-BY-SA, Icons by the Noun Project

In Impkt.tool’s latest news, Europeana’s Harry Verwayen discusses some of the considerations in developing a playbook that will describe and evaluate impact, providing ‘a methodology that we hope cultural innovators and the management of cultural institutions will like to use in their daily practice.’

The playbook will provide a framework for thinking about questions like… ‘How do you establish what kind of impact your organization can have? And once you know what you are looking for, how do you capture that? How do you tell your story and internalize your learning points so that you will do better in the future?’

The group is using a Theory of Change methodology, described neatly here by Nesta.

Over the next six weeks, teaming up with Sinzer and 30-X, companies who have done this kind of thing before, the project will produce a beta version of the playbook. But, as Harry points out, they face some interesting design challenges along the way:

  1. Marrying emotion and discipline - how do we bring different modes of thinking into one methodology?

  2. Defining our point of view - circular or linear? Are we interested in assessing our current impact as an endpoint? Ir is the output of the assessment seen as input for our next round of activities?

  3. Theorizing change - what are our outputs and outcomes? Where do we draw our accountability line?

  4. Are we interested in social or economic impact? And what’s the difference?

It’s a big task and as Harry says, ‘We are entering this space as passionate newbies. This has the advantage that we have a slightly naive but fresh perspective.’

To find out more about the impact playbook, read Harry’s blog, The Impact of Cultural Heritage: 4 playbook design challenges (and then some).

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