Since 2017, Arts at the Old Fire Station (AOFS) has been using the storytelling methodology to evaluate the impact of its work. Instead of setting outcomes to measure against, we decided to let those we work with identify outcomes for themselves by telling us a story. What changed for them? How did it happen? Why is it important?
We’ve found collecting, analysing and presenting stories to be a creative and participative process, which is both meaningful and enjoyable. It has shifted evaluation from a necessary add-on, to a central part of our work and who we are. Both the stories, and the learning that has emerged from them, have been rich and insightful. They have led us to think deeply about the way we work and have even resulted in us re-writing our mission statement.
Since we first started using storytelling, people have shown an interest not just in the stories themselves but also in the methodology. We have created a guide so that others can understand the approach and how we use it.