Ruth has 20 years of qualitative and quantitative research experience, and specialises in embedded research design, impact measurement and creative research approaches. She has an extensive track record in designing and supporting others to use a range of data gathering and analysis methods. These include: cost benefit analysis; economic impact assessment; and statistical modelling that draw on her maths degree, as well as more action research-focused work that draws on her later academic work across the social sciences.
As well as being a senior research associate at the hub, she works as a freelance cultural consultant, advising both UK and international cultural organisations on measurement and evaluation systems. Her current and recent freelance work includes the following roles: Research Advisor to Aarhus (Denmark) European Capital of Culture 2017; Research and Intelligence Associate at firstsite gallery; Critical Friend to the Transported and Market Place Creative People and Places projects, and Evaluation Advisor to Future Projects, Norwich. She is also on the National Steering Group of Creative People and Places. As part of the hub team, she has recently worked with The Great Escape and English Folk Expo festivals to evaluate their economic impact. Between 2005 and 2010, Ruth was previously Programme Manager and Senior Research Fellow for Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture Research Programme, a major five-year programme developing measures for understanding and evaluating the economic, social and cultural impacts of culture-led regeneration, which is seen as setting a standard for cultural impact assessment in the UK.
In line with the diagnostic approach that characterises the hub’s work across the board, as an evaluation consultant, Ruth’s approach is to use and embed evaluation to effect internal and external change, and to embed evaluation practice into everyday working practice. She has a strong commitment to ensuring evaluation systems fit the user, and has advised both Arts Council England and Department for Culture Media and Sport committees looking at new models of measurement and impact that work for organisations at all levels. She also has experience of working with small and medium organisations in the voluntary and cultural sector, supporting them to improve their data literacy and effective use of evaluation for change, and has lots of experience of devising and using theory of change models to support organisations to develop and implement highly effective self evaluation frameworks.
Ruth is also an academic researcher, with 18 years of experience of bridging the policy and academic research sectors, and is currently completing a PhD on measurement in the arts at the University of Essex. Her PhD research focuses on the evaluation of the publicly funded arts sector, combining an analysis of artists responses to formal evaluation practice, with an empirical study of their emic, quotidian valuation practices, and how these are shaped by competing institutional logics. As such she has experience of producing literature reviews, including grey literature reviews, which are academically rigorous but also usable to the sector. She has written for academic, policy and practitioner audiences and has extensive experience of presenting her work at all levels.
Follow Ruth on twitter @ruthmelville