Assessment tools used during Brussels seminar

Assessment of activities combining social, art and culture components
Notes by Myriam Brun-Cavanié/iddac (French version here)

During the seminar:

  • Contributions of Roland de Bodt
  • Otto’s palaver tree
  • The postcards of Ulla Hase
  • Instrumental assessment for the “Orchestra for Everyone” workshop (Belgium)
  • The drama workshop assessment questionnaire (Croatia)

During the time allotted for seminar assessment:

  • Group vibrations (Belgium)
  • Colours of the seminar (Belgium)
  • The five fingers of the hand (Croatia)
  • The targets (Croatia)


1/ Contributions of Roland de Bodt: postulates and questions for workshop assessment

“The social challenge in artistic creation is not to change the world, but to change our imagination. This can then lead to changing the world.” Le Cercle Ouvert (1998) Roland de Bodt

Researcher and author Roland de Bodt wrote a text for the seminar entitled “Some general considerations for the purposes of assessing our socio-artistic practices.” It was presented at the opening of the seminar, elicited a lot of responses among participants (social workers, artists, cultural mediators…) and set the tone for our discussions. What he noted is that since economic globalisation, our democracies have been obliged to act with increasing inequality. And yet, as Montesquieu said, “love for democracy is love for equality” => our democracies are increasingly paradoxical in that they lay claim to certain values and are no longer capable of upholding them.

For Roland de Bodt, the paradoxes of democracy form loci to be occupied, notably by culture, to “produce meaning”. Identifying them as such is important for they are “key places for the work of creation”. Culture must generate social cohesion and we must “switch from philosophy to action”: “embodying democratic values in our acts” which implies “making space for it in our imaginations” (individual imagination and social imagination).

Cultural action and art must activate (awake, elicit) our creative imagination (meaning our ability to have images and think of those images) to invent another way of being in the world, seeing the world and living together.

The artistic practice workshop is essential in that it enables everyone to work on their singularity by freeing themselves of the constraints of the world and “reach beyond themselves”. It enables a “pedagogy of singularity and freedom” and a “journey between the individual and the collective”.

The pedagogy of singularity is a pedagogy built around differences: accepting our differences and those of others, being capable of stating and asserting them other than in violence and conflict.

Proposed questions for the assessment of a workshop/ “pedagogy of singularity”:

  • did the workshop stimulate the creative imagination of the participant?
  • did it enable them to understand themselves better as a human being?
  • did the workshop activity enable the person to change the representations they had of themselves?
  • was the person able to free themselves of their own obstacles?
  • what modifications did it make possible in discovering their potential and aspirations?
  • was their creative imagination activated?
  • was their self-esteem enhanced?
  • (…)

2/ Otto’s palaver tree

“After Cettona, I felt a certain need to try to turn the energy I had felt in the professional and human encounter with the other participants into something real, three-dimensional and, in an almost Utopian effort, “useful” for others. The result is the jellyfish tree or assessment mobile!” Otto

The palaver tree, a work by Otto created for the seminar, was set up in the foyer of the Maison de la Création and was used as the focus of an “intimate writing workshop”. A number of typewriters were placed on tables at different heights and left at the disposal of the participants for their writing. Those who so wanted could therefore react to the various workshops of the seminar by proposing a personal assessment of their respective experiences. The words they wrote were hung from the branches/tentacles of the jellyfish tree, “to fluctuate with the installation in space, at the foot, in the middle or at the top of its structure.”

Click on any picture to start the slide show.

3/ The postcards of Ulla Hase

“From afar, the drawings appear calm, almost uniform, but as you come closer, things start moving. Delicate lines gain in force and suggest whole series of emotions and matter. Simple forms become instinctively seductive: dreams in motion, elements as light and soft as feathers, infinite spaces… As they all hatch out, they become more enigmatic and suggest the presence of unknown forces…” Ulla Hase, Plastic Artist.

The proposal: a 30-minute artistic workshop held on the last day at the end of the lunch break on a voluntary basis. Blank post cars (drawing paper) are put out, plus all kinds of art materials (pastels, gouache, watercolours, grease paint, coloured pencils, ink, felt pens, markers, ballpoints …) plus brushes, penholders, stencils… The table is soon a mess as everyone creates their own work on their postcard. There is only one instruction to be followed: express the experience of the seminar in plastic form with the possibility of adding a small text on the other side for the recipient of the card.

At the end of the day, all the people who have done a card draw one from a box into which all these emotions have been put, and leave with it as a souvenir of the seminar, carrying away with them a little piece of imagination in a secret message from an unknown sender…

4/ Instrumental assessment of the “Orchestra for all” workshop

“The group will take the controls of a sound machine that is as subtle as it is enchanting, to put a series of key principles into practice. No need to panic, the equipment has been specially designed for non-musicians…” Michael Wolteche, musician and workshop moderator – Maison de la Création.

During the workshop, each participant has had the opportunity to conduct a free exploration of sounds and develop their listening abilities, discovering ways of profiting from sound events and learning from their errors by including them in a musical ensemble, interacting flexibly, like in a real orchestra, to find a common rhythm for all…

At the end of the workshop, everyone was asked to give an image of their state of mind, but in sound. These sound snapshots were passed around among each other to form a melody specific to the group in which everyone had given and received messages relating to this time for shared artistic practice.

This evaluation tool has been designed with special cooperation of Françoise Binder and according to the coaching methods of open orchestra.

5/ The drama workshop assessment questionnaires (Croatia)

Assessment of the “Me, you and everybody we know” workshop (improvisation games) moderated by Valentina and the “Life is a feat” workshop (physical theatre) moderated by Maja.

In 15 questions, this questionnaire, of which we have brought back a copy, proposes an “on-the-spot” identification and indication of measurement, by each participant, of the ways in which each workshop:

  • contributed to their development “as a person”;
  • stimulated their imagination;
  • made them feel better prepared for the “challenges of their future life”;
  • was useful to them and why?

The person who designed the questionnaires was present at the workshops as an observer. It would be interesting to get some feedback on the results of the assessment after analysis of the responses.

6/ Group vibrations (Belgium)

A spontaneous, collective vocal melody performed in the assessment room after a minute’s silence.

How it works: everyone makes a sound that reflects their state at the precise moment of the assessment and keeps up that sound for a whole minute. Together, they produce “the tone of the seminar” in a crescendo and then decrescendo. Our choir master was Jacques-Yves Le Docte, director-moderator at the Maison de la Création!

7/ Colours of the seminar (Belgium)

How it works: when the signal was given, everyone chose from among the crayons placed in the middle of the room the one that corresponded most closely to the state of mind of each participant at that instant in time, then took the time to colour in a square of drawing paper with it, without leaving any blank spaces at all… This produced a collective mosaic of colours which was the assembled by the Maison de la Création team on the partition screen of a work of art on display in the foyer… entitled “CURIoSITE”!

7/ Five fingers of the hand (Croatia)

How it works: draw around the outline of your hand with a colour pencil and indicate on the…

  • thumb: the things that were “great” during the seminar!
  • index finger: things you absolutely must show your colleagues when you return home
  • middle finger: what was “horrible”, completely wrong
  • ring finger: what you want to keep safely with you “for ever”
  • little finger: a more intimate, personal thing to take away

It would be interesting to get feedback on the analysis of the hands, if only to know whether the results could be processed effectively (revealing “categories” of responses per hand / finger…?)

Click on any picture to start the slide show.

6/ Targets (Croatia)

Two targets are put up on one of the walls in the room, each of them divided into four parts marked:

  • target 1: meals at the Maison de la Création; accommodation; hospitality; scheduling
  • target 2: new ideas; creativeness; new tools; assessment tools

How it works: participants are asked to come and indicate their opinion of how each of the objectives of the seminar has been achieved directly on the target, with the scale ranging from the centre of the target to indicate “perfect” to the outer rim for “complete failure”.

The result of the assessment is immediately visible: by simply looking at the targets, you can see where the majority (or not) of the points are positioned to measure achievement of the objectives, both on the logistics side of the seminar (target 1) and regarding the innovative aspects of its content (target 2).

You may also want to discover the conception of an evaluation tool by associate artist Otto Fonz : the three of evaluation, also called medusa. Click on pictures to start slide show.

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