Innovatory Methods in Policymaking: The Use of Verbatim Theatre
Professor Sarah Whatley, Professor Nick Henry, Professor Susanne Foellmer, Charles Ingram
Strategic Priorities Fund
Report will be published within a month and this will be followed by a round table with policy makers and other key stakeholders.
Funded through the Strategic Priorities Fund, the project explores new forms of data gathering for policy making, and specifically the role of Headphone Verbatim Theatre in assessing the impact of Coventry City of Culture 2021 on citizens and their views of Coventry. Drawn from Charles Ingram’s PhD research, Verbatim Theatre deliberately gives value to the voices of residents and places them at the forefront with regards to evidence and evaluation. Verbatim Theatre, in brief, is a theatre performance created solely from the words spoken by interview participants. Part of the growing interest in the use of arts methods in policy evaluation, Verbatim Theatre has the potential to transmit the lived experience of service users and policy beneficiaries in a highly nuanced, engaging, and insightful manner. It is in the exchange with the audience, both during the performance and in discussion afterwards, where the novelty and value of this method is most clear. Using the existing research on City of Culture 2021 evaluation, this research will:
a. create a professionally-designed Policy Briefing on Verbatim Theatre as a Policy Tool. The Policy Briefing will i) outline what the method is and its perceived benefits ii) use embedded clips from the recent performance as part of a multi-media document iii) outline the operational requirements and challenges of its use
b. using Professor Henry’s extensive local, regional and national policymaker connections invite selected participants to an on-line presentation and roundtable discussion of verbatim theatre as a Policy Tool and,
c. document how this method has been received by policymakers, and how effective the method might be in adding value to policymakers’ decision-making processes.
The project will build on, extend and accelerate existing research activity to i) facilitate the use of existing research and the exchange of knowledge between universities and policymakers ii) to better equip academics, including a postgraduate researcher, to communicate effectively with policymakers and iii) further extend existing policy partnerships and collaborations aimed at supporting evidence-based and innovative policy making.
Image credits: Maria Raluca (Reel Master Production).