Learning to evaluate

Evaluation is an important part of both the creative and concrete-practical components of project development. However in an orchestral setting, forms of evaluation can differ widely from the musicians to the marketing department to the artistic committee. All these departments of the orchestral whole work together to develop and perform classical concerts – yet they all evaluate the process and product of these concerts a little bit differently (and according to different criteria: artistic, financial, press coverage, etc.). Perhaps something can be learned from sharing forms of evaluation and, additionally, perhaps new forms of evaluation can be built through reflexive collaboration.

This etude encourages orchestras to develop a more shared and agreed-upon approach to evaluation, and a reflexive understanding of the relation between the different ways of evaluating and the qualities you evaluate; for example, if you as marketeer measure the number of visitors, your implicit understanding of quality (what is a ‘good’ concert) is based on the assumption that more visitors is better. This etude is flexible and open to adaptation, depending on the context. In one context (or performance project) the goal may be to create a ‘new’ form of evaluation. In another context, the goal may be to simply consolidate forms of evaluation together, to generate better inter-departmental cohesion. However, one goal is central – that the organization as a whole learns from each other – from the expertise and knowledge intrinsic to each department.


  • A member of the orchestra is designated as the ‘initiator’ of this process.
  • The initiator collects an inventory of existing formal evaluation forms and moments within the orchestra.
  • These existing formats should be collected from different departments (artistic committee, marketing/communication, education, production) – and each department is in charge of highlighting any key issues, or points of improvement, regarding the evaluation forms.
  • A meeting is arranged between musicians, members of the artistic committee, marketing/communication and possibly production, in order to discuss the differences between existing evaluation forms (based on the ‘points for attention’ present in each).
  • Based on this, a proposal is made about how evaluation could be done differently
  • For example, a form in which different types of evaluation criteria such as audience reach and artistic quality are explicitly linked together; or a new public committee to be formed; or an exercise in which others are also reflexively invited to think about evaluations.
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