The Museum of Art & History at the McPherson Center

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Museum Camp 2014: Social Impact Assessment

camp_shotEver wondered how to measure your organization’s ability to build community, inspire learning, or create change? Join us for Museum Camp, a chance to learn, play, and measure the immeasurable together.

The 2014 Museum Camp theme is social impact assessment. Our goal is to develop creative ways to evaluate the work we are all doing to build and transform our communities. We will do this by bringing together teams of diverse people from across many disciplines in shared learning and doing around research and social impact. Our focus is on social impact in communities, and we will encourage teams to look at complex outcomes–like safety, cohesion, compassion, and identity–that are not commonly covered in our standard evaluative practices.

Because we at the MAH are not experts in this topic, we are working with lots of smart researchers and evaluators–from the arts, social services, and social justice organizations–to make this camp happen. We are thrilled to be co-presenting Museum Camp with Fractured Atlas, an organization that inspires us for their thoughtful approach to making art measurable and meaningful.


When: Wednesday July 30 – Saturday August 2, 2014. Camp will start on Wednesday afternoon and conclude on Saturday midday.

Where: Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH), Santa Cruz, CA

What: A three-day event at which participants work in teams to develop creative techniques for measuring the social impact of non-profit organizations and activities. Like any good summer camp, even the most “serious” activities will be fun.

Who: 100 creative people from diverse arts, social justice, and community development organizations who want to experiment and push their practice through an active, collaborative professional development experience. This camp is open to people with all levels of experience with impact assessment and evaluation. Registration is based on a competitive application process. Attendees will be selected based on diversity of background, work, experience, and interests.

Why: To ignite unexpected collaborations, increase research literacy, encourage outcome-oriented thinking, strengthen organizational effectiveness, and support experimental thinking and prototyping. We welcome you whether you have a very specific research project in mind or a more speculative interest in impact assessment.

How it will work: Museum Camp will offer hefty doses of both learning and doing, all focused on social impact assessment. Camp will start with workshops with community evaluation and research professionals who will help all participants understand current methodologies and techniques for conducting impact measurement. Then, participants will break into teams (assigned by the event organizers to ensure team diversity) and select social outcomes of interest that they would like to measure. Each team will have about 48 hours to determine an outcome of interest, identify an indicator of that outcome, develop a creative evaluation tool to measure it, perform the measurement, and analyze the results. Each team will include a Santa Cruz local who can help make connections with organizations or businesses relevant to the team’s work as useful. There will also be floating counselors who are expert in evaluation and will serve as advisors to the teams. Camp will conclude with all participants sharing their work and discussing lessons learned from the experience.

Cost: We are trying to make camp as affordable as possible for participants. The registration fee this year will be $150, which includes breakfast on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and dinner on Wednesday and Thursday. Participants are welcome to sleep over at the museum if desired – we can fit about 50 campers on various floors and will coordinate a shower option at a local gym a couple blocks from the museum.

  • Norma Thompson

    I’m working in the UK for an organisation called Space2, on a project looking at measuring impact of the arts on social change (as well as on the artists and the organisation). I would love to come to this extraordinary event, but think unlikely we can manage airfares! How can we contribute and benefit from this event electronically? e discussions? filmed contributions? (unless someone could offer to pay for my fare…. cheeky!) Anyway, keen to be part of this

    • santacruzmah

      Hi Norma,
      There are some people thinking about coming from across the pond, but I understand how costly it can be!

      The answer to your question is: we’re not sure yet. Because of the nature of the camp being so active and team-based, it is unlikely that there will be real-time ways for people to participate online. However, we are planning a report from the conference, and possibly some videos as well. This kind of event is really about being there in the moment, but we will try to develop artifacts from it as we can! We will also be populating a “resources” section of this site as time goes on.

      In the meantime, I strongly suggest looking at Animating Democracy’s website and their terrific tools and publications.

  • Chris Durham

    Hi, can you apply online? I couldn’t find a submit button.

    • Elise Granata
    • Yup – just go to the Apply Now to the right sidebar, fill out the form, and press submit at the bottom.

      • Chris Durham

        Hi Nina,

        Thanks so much, I’ll follow this up.

        I hope I can take a bit more of your time as I’d also like to ask you if the Museum might be interested in participating in an International Fellowship program that I am going to apply for.
        I live in a rural city in New South Wales, Australia (pop. 25,000) and have been the Deputy Director (Operations & Education) at the New England Regional Art Museum for 5 years ( Being a museum of only 4 equivalent full time staff you can image we all become involved in all the aspects of the museum, an advantage working in a smaller museum I think, and apart from doing Education programs and looking after the operations of the museum, I have been involved in exhibitions, fundraising, project work and most recently I have taken over public programming. I am always seeking to find new and innovative ways to improve what we offer to our community and am really interested to gain some experience overseas to bring a fresh perspective to what I/we do.
        Museums & Galleries of NSW Australia offer a Fellowship Program for mid-level and senior staff at NSW regional museums and galleries each year, which give applicants the opportunity to spend two weeks at an international cultural organisation. Currently they have an agreement with the Dallas Museum of Art, but there is also the option to choose my own organisation. I would be very interested in doing one at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.
        My reasons for choosing your institution is due to the strategic direction that the Museum, under your leadership, has taken in relation to connecting to its community through a range of innovative and experimental ideas, exhibitions and public programs. Although I realise it is not a large and well resourced museum like the Dallas Museum of Art I believe a fellowship at your museum would be a more suitable fellowship with the skills, experience and knowledge I would gain to be or more beneficial and applicable to my role at NERAM and where NERAM needs to position itself in the next 5 to 10 years. Basically for me Santa Cruz is a much better fit than a large museum like Dallas and having followed your blog for several years and seeing what you and your staff are doing there it is much more in tune with what I want to do.
        Fellowships are provided at no cost to the hosting museum and I have put a link in below that provides a few more details for your information. Of course I would have to apply and be accepted before anything could proceed further but I felt it best to contact you to enquire if you might be interested.
        Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing back from you when you get a moment with your thoughts as it would help my application to say that we have been in touch and that in principal you were agreeable. Naturally there is no commitment at this stage and dates etc. would all be worked out later if I was successful. I was thinking later in year, sometime around October but whatever works for both.
        Please don’t hesitate to ask me anything more you need to know and thanks again Nina.
        Kind regards

        • Hi Christine,
          Can you send me a quick email with your email address so we can move this conversation off this webpage?

  • Scot Sedley

    Hello, I believe that I applied a few weeks back for acceptance into Museum Camp, but I never received a confirmation email or anything of the sort. Is there anyone I can contact to find out if my application was received?

  • leroy plus 10000


    I do not see the apply now button. Does that make the application closed?

  • Is there an email address where I can send questions?
    Thank you

  • Marcia

    Hi, are you going to have another camp in 2015? If so, what is the topic? Thanks!

    • Yup – announcing it tomorrow. The topic is SPACE!

    • Elise Granata

      Hey Marcia– you can check out more about the camp here now: