A family watching an artist illustrated under a gazebo
Focus On Medway events, 2018. Photo credit: Kyra Cross

Ideas Test was set up as a participatory action research programme to create more opportunities for people to engage in the arts.  This means that we’re undertaking research by doing things, looking at what happens and learning and then feeding that back into our planning cycle.

We work collaboratively with local people, particularly the Community Catalyst network, whose views and experience help shape what we do.

We collect data from people who take part in our events using postcards and online surveys asking them what they like and don’t like about events, and why they came along.  Using anonymised post codes we can map our audiences and their likely behaviour. Read more about how this works.

The ways we collect data and analyse it is supported and validated by our academic research partners at Canterbury Christchurch University, and all our data is submitted quarterly to Arts Council England where it is examined and analysed by ECORYS an independent research organisation who manage the evaluation of the whole Creative People and Places programme. You can read more about the national evaluation here.

We produce case studies which look at different aspects of our work, as well as research reports which evaluate what we do. Take a look at some highlights from the 2016 Research Report produced by our research partners at COaST, Canterbury Christchurch University:

  • Almost 36,000 people took part in over 175 events from the beginning of the Ideas Test programme in 2013.
  • The most successful projects took place in venues that were familiar to the target audience like youth centres and village halls.
  • Projects where Community Catalysts or other engaged residents were inviting people to participate had a strong and engaged response from the local population
  • Top motivators for attendance at events are: Learning something new, the event was participatory, being with friends or family and being part of a community group
  • 85% of people who came to Ideas Test events went on to increase the number of arts events they attended locally.
  • Ideas Test has reached a representative cross section of the local population.
  • Individuals in the community have come forward to lead projects that they would otherwise not have considered.
  • Community input has underpinned or influenced all of the decisions and actions taken by Ideas Test.