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June 22, 2023

BLOG: The Quiet Ones

In this series of blogs I have been bringing a novel perspective to the work of Albatross Arts and how to capture the power of the creative arts on well-being.

This week I noticed that of the half dozen or so weavers that come to the workshops, there are usually only two or three that are chatty. They are comfortable sharing how they are doing, with both their weaving and their wellbeing, and when they say lovely things about the workshop this makes for brilliant and direct feedback and we snap this up as evidence for funders, supporters, reports etc.

But what about the quiet ones? How can we find out if they are benefitting from the workshops too? There is a risk we are under-reporting the impact of the workshops otherwise.

Under-reporting is a concept I came across working on one of the planet’s most horrific diseases – rabies. I was shocked to learn that there are still outbreaks of rabies in the world that kill many people, and perhaps even more shocking is how much goes undetected. Under-reporting makes it very hard to prevent a disease epidemic because if the first cases are missed then it can grow exponentially, something that the nation learned first hand during the early days of the covid pandemic.

Whilst less ‘Cujo’ and more ‘Book Club’, the concept of under-reporting is still important for detecting the impact of Albatross Arts workshops.

I am a quiet one, so do I think I am benefitting from the workshops? Undoubtedly. Let me give you an example. Last week I was shopping and felt horrible – overstimulated and brainfogged. I sat in my car and it occurred to me for the first time ever that creativity could help. I didn’t have many resources to hand so I just drew what was in front of me – my hand on my shopping list with a biro! It worked, I felt calm. I know this would not have happened without attending Alex’s workshops.

As for the other quiet ones in the group – well, for one, turning up is a good sign. Keeping track of numbers and types of participants is one obvious source of data that is used to quantitatively evidence the reach of Albatross Arts independently of how chatty the participants are.

However, our Development Manager Sue has made the crucial point to me that ‘this is not a numbers game‘. Albatross Arts’ work is about depth of impact. So they collect qualitative data in the form of written feedback, observations of effects on participants from partner organisations like SENSE and of course lots of photos and screenshots of the workshops to document progress (any with PPI are only shared with consent of course).

Albatross Arts also recognises the artworks themselves as data. This is fascinating to me. As a scientist I worked with quantitative data, was aware of qualitative data especially in the social sciences, but never art as data – what a novel and exciting concept!

related news

Blog: To Weave or not to Weave?
Blog: Conversation as Art
Showcase: Claire Gorman on Gravitating Towards What Lights You Up