Qa undertook a comprehensive assessment of the learning and community engagement aspects of the HLF funded ‘York Minster Revealed’ project. Staff, stakeholders, community groups and volunteers were consulted in order to understand the impacts of the project and provide strategic recommendations to ensure a sustainable future for the project, and in order to share learning across the Cathedral and other similar organisations.
Background and aims
York Minster Revealed (YMR) is one of the largest conservation and restoration projects of its kind in Europe; a five-year £20 million project funded by numerous donors including the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The project involved capital works to the building and a large scale community and activity programme. Qa’s evaluation focussed on the community and activity programme, and included the objectives of:
- Assessing how the project was delivered against its learning and community engagement objectives
- Understanding the intangible impacts of the learning and community engagement work on stakeholders, staff and volunteers
- Capturing the stories behind the impacts of the project
- Understanding the extent of engagement with heritage and history
- Making recommendations for the future to ensure the sustainability and legacy of the project
- Exploring wider learning from the project, which can then be used across the Cathedral and shared with other similar organisations
Undertaking the research
The evaluation required Qa researchers to understand a wide range of audiences’ perspectives on the project, from high profile to the local community in York. The researchers drew on their experience of interacting with diverse audiences in order to understand the impact of the project.
A mixed qualitative approach was used to achieve the research objectives, allowing the capture of intangible, emotional and human impacts of YMR. The research comprised of:
- Over ten face to face depth interviews with key members of Chapter and key staff;
- Four focus groups; one with volunteers, two with community organisations and one with staff members from wider teams
- A feedback form sent out to key community organisations who were involved in the project
- A desk based assessment of York Minster’s own diverse strands of data collected throughout the project, including survey data, testimonials from schools, monthly reports and event reports, from which Qa developed case studies to show examples of the types of project events and activities run
- York Minster also provided Qa with quantitative findings as a measure of the project’s success.
In the focus groups participants were asked to take part in a range of activities, including responding to a York Minster Revealed Video (showing HLF funded changes) and compiling and grouping their ideas into broad themes using Logo Visual Technology (LVT). LVT is an approach which respondents in our experience enjoy using and is an excellent way to facilitate discussion and in this case to capture the breadth and depth of impacts experienced, be they small or large scale.
The analysis drew the different strands of data collected together and findings were presented in a written report, illustrated by quotations and supporting evidence. Since the evaluation explored not just what happened during the project, but was a ‘live’ evaluation providing recommendations for future learning and engagement, the report presented findings and conclusions from the project evaluation, followed by findings on the project’s legacy and recommendations for the future.
The results of the research were presented by Qa to Chapter, the governing body of York Minster, and the research report will be submitted by York Minster to HLF, along with other data collected by York Minster.
As well as meeting HLF funding requirements the research has allowed York Minster to continue with the legacy of York Minster Revealed, providing strategic recommendations on how it can learn from project experiences in terms of both challenges and areas for improvement and building on successes. Following the evaluation, York Minster is engaged in developing an updated Learning Plan for 2016 onwards, a peer review, work towards a Core Narrative for the Minster, and Chapter’s aspirations in their five year strategic plan.
What the researcher said:
Tom Ratcliffe, Senior Research Executive at Qa said: “I have enjoyed the challenge of drawing together diverse sources of information and points of view for this HLF evaluation. It has been rewarding both to be involved in a local tourism project and to understand the impact it has had on the local community, and to know that the research has produced strategic recommendations that will help shape York Minster’s learning and community engagement going forward”
What the client said:
Richard Butterfield, Director of Public Engagement, at York Minster said: “Many thanks for all your work on this report and the care and consideration that you took over all aspects of this project. Many thanks to you all.”
Tom Ratcliffe, Senior Research Executive for more information:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 01904 632039
To find out more about the York Minster Revealed project visit https://yorkminster.org/york-minster-revealed.html and https://www.hlf.org.uk/about-us/news-features/york-minster-reveals-all