British Council - Creative Economy Team
Over ten years and across more than 50 countries, the British Council’s Creative Entrepreneur programme has celebrated and connected a global network of pioneers, makers and disruptors in fashion, interactive, music, performing arts, publishing, screen and visual arts. 448 people have been awarded the title of YCE – 82 of them based in the UK, 366 from overseas. In 2014 we were commissioned by the British Council to tell the story of this network and its impact, and then work with the team to redefine it’s purpose to have a more social and systemic focus going forward.
Team: Cassie, Sarah B, with Stefanie Posavec & Miriam Quick.
Why did we do this work
This was an opportunity for us to bring our experience in analysing and strengthening networks to a live context and we could see the kind of impact that the Creative Economy team could and wanted to achieve by repurposing the network to be relevant and respond to global social challenges. We felt that the British Council as an institution had a unique position to mobilise people in local contexts and that this network, linked in with some of their other work, could help deliver on that.
What was our approach
Initially we approached this with some standard research methods. We collected qualitative data through interviews and created toolkits for some of the network to use in group sessions with their stakeholders and partners so we could data from different perspectives. The toolkit was an attempt to start testing the ways in which the network could generate more dynamic data themselves so that impact could be measured more effectively into the future. We also collected quantitative data through surveys that were sent out across the whole network. We brought in Miriam Quick and Stefanie Posavec to find stories in this data and then visualise them.
Alongside telling some important stories of impact, we created a framework to measure how well the network was working and the ways it was creating value - its connectivity, vibrancy, diversity, actions (knowledge sharing and peer-to-peer support) and outcomes.
We developed a new set of awards criteria for inclusion in the network going forward, documented the new types of roles, actions and characteristics that would be found in the network by using this different criteria for recruitment and designed an approach for the network to use going forward that would measure the networks impact.
We created a report that was sent out to the network which helped local British Council offices position the work more strategically and to have influence with external stakeholders. The stories we uncovered were used to create a set of films in partnership with Dazed & Confused.
We were then asked to work with the team to develop a new Theory of Change that linked the network into their wider programme of work. Feedback from the team said that our work helped them to think about what they were doing as an ecosystem of projects. The programme has now evolved to reflect the new focus that we developed with the team.