Program Evaluation: Creative-in-Residence

April 30th, 2019 | EVALUATION

The National Building Museum (NBM) contracted RK&A to evaluate Creative-in-Residence (CIR), a program that invites visual and performing artists to NBM for short-term residencies to create original work that promotes engagement with the built environment.  The study goal was to consider future implications for the CIR program based on the most recent CIR iteration (a January 2019 dance performance inviting visitors to explore NBM’s historic building) and past program iterations.  

How did we approach this study?

To hear a variety of perspectives on CIR, RK&A conducted in-depth telephone interviews with a number of stakeholders with different relationships to the program– both internal and external – including visitors who attended performance, performers, past creatives who have worked with the museum (including the most recent CIR), and cultural professionals (peers) who manage similar programs at other institutions.  RK&A also attended the performance in January 2019 as context for data collection and analysis.  

What did we learn?

Results show there is a strong appetite among the community for engaging with the NBM building’s history in creative and intriguing ways as well as an overall appreciation for how the CIR program unites the arts and the built environment.  In the January 2019 CIR iteration, leading visitors throughout the building, having performers dance in unexpected places, and basing the performance on the museum’s collections helped all involved – visitors, performers, and the artist – more deliberately consider the NBM building’s history and unique architecture, develop a “special bond” with the building, and inspired them to consider built spaces uniqueness more generally.  All of this bodes well for the CIR program’s future and highlights the power of visual/performing arts to promote new perspectives on the built environment.  Opportunities to strengthen the CIR program (while still respecting each iteration and artist's uniqueness) include finding ways to mitigate logistical barriers that could impede program effectiveness (e.g., crowding on performance days), integrate more historically underrepresented perspectives (e.g., working with diverse artists, community members, and/or collections), and promoting visitors’ agency in shaping the built environment (i.e., how can/do they shape the built environment?).  Program leaders should also consider strategies for maintaining and strengthening relationships with artists and performers after each CIR iteration ends.



Team Members

Cathy Sigmond, Evaluator, RK&A, Inc.
Stephanie Downey, Evaluator, RK&A, Inc.


Audience: Evaluators | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Art | music | theater
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Summative
Environment Type: Museum and Science Center Programs | Public Programs