West Australian Opera (WAO) has been entertaining audiences with exceptional opera experiences since 1967. The organisation presents classic and contemporary mainstream operas and is involved in the commissioning and development of exciting new works. WAO also has a strong education and community program, including Wesfarmers Arts Singing Classes, library events, school excursions and incursions, makeup workshops and behind-the-scenes opportunities.
Through its diverse programs, WAO audiences and participants experience a broad range of cultural, social, economic and quality outcomes. WAO uses the Culture Counts Evaluation Platform to measure and communicate this intrinsic value and, for the past three years, Culture Counts has collaborated with WAO to aggregate the results of their annual programs in the WAO Annual Report.
We spoke to WAO Executive Director, Carolyn Chard AM, about how the Annual Report has become an important tool in the organisation’s day-to-day operations, particularly when evaluating new works and benchmarking to previous productions, reporting back to partners and funders, and informing future program decisions.
Ms Chard states, “The Annual Report provides an excellent tool to demonstrate the value of WAO programs. WAO has worked closely with the Culture Counts team to align our key dimensions with reporting requirements of WAO funders. This ensures we are able to provide quantifiable insights that accurately report on the key outcomes and measure the impact of the work we do.”
WAO understands the importance of collecting data to showcase the value of its programs and rather than focusing solely on output data such as attendance figures and box office sales, they were looking to understand the cultural and social outcomes felt by their audiences and participants. With such a large and diverse program on offer, WAO was looking to implement an evaluation framework that would help them to easily capture data throughout the year and showcase findings in a cohesive and easy-to-understand report.
Ms Chard states that WAOs objectives included capturing feedback that could, “assist in future and strategic planning and also provide integral customer feedback used in marketing promotions, development acquittals and a measure for artistic quality.“
The Annual Report summarises these findings in a way that speaks to its valued stakeholders.
“We are able to provide quantifiable insights that accurately report on the key outcomes and measure the impact of the work we do.“Carolyn Chard AM, Executive Director, WAO Read report
Culture Counts and WAO went through a strategic alignment process, to identify a set of dimension metrics that linked back to WAO’s strategic goals, the goals of their individual programs, as well as the objectives of its key funders and stakeholders. Based on this research, an evaluation plan was formed with a range of program-based survey templates that satisfied the requirements of the strategic alignment. Survey templates included dimension metrics with added questions that captured respondent demographics, experience and perceptions.
When asked about the approach, Ms Chard stated that, “The dimensions are an excellent tool to demonstrate the value of WAO programs. WAO has worked closely with the Culture Counts team to align our key dimensions with reporting requirements of WAO funders. This ensures we are able to provide quantifiable insights that accurately report on the key outcomes and measures the impact of the work we do.”
Each year, Culture Counts aggregates, analyses, and reports on WAO’s annual survey results in a professionally designed printed report. The Annual report includes introductions from WAO’s executive team, outcomes of each individual program and an economic impact analysis that estimates how much spending WAO events have generated in the local economy throughout the year.
When asked what WAO’s biggest takeaways from the Annual Report were, Carolyn said, “Knowing WAO has the ability to measure the strengths of each work with consistent metrics and to see the depth of impact WAO programs have on audiences. This is valuable when measuring the response to new work, for example, our new commission, ‘Koolbardi wer Wardong’, where we found that the percentage of new audiences was the highest that we saw in the 2021 program.”
Know what to measure with our evaluation framework that aligns your vision, strategies and stakeholders.
Image attribution: Gina Williams as Ngaank Boodja in Koolbardi wer Wardong. Photo by James Rogers.
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