Interest in using arts-informed approaches within research to increase stakeholder engagement is growing; however, there is little work describing how these approaches are operationalised across contexts. This article addresses that gap by exploring the use of arts-informed approaches across three projects.
Aims and objectives:
We explore how conceptualising research and evaluation as creative endeavours, particularly in arts-informed approaches to co-production, create opportunities to move knowledge into action (knowledge mobilisation). We propose an actionable configuration of context + mechanism = outcome (CMO) to understand the influence of arts-informed approaches to co-production.
Multi-case design and cross-case synthesis was conducted of three studies that used arts-informed approaches. A common focus across our cases was evidence use in the K-12 education sector; however, each engaged with this focus by involving different types of evidence and sets of education stakeholders.
Arts-informed approaches and co-production were influenced by a variety of contextual factors such as relationships between researchers and stakeholders, ethical issues of collaborative research activities, approaches to meaningful stakeholder engagement, co-production of knowledge, capacity-building support and resources, and communication between multi-stakeholder partners. Outcomes included new ways of thinking about research topics based on arts-informed approaches, more positive attitudes about co-production, more relevant and useful research and evaluation findings, and increased openness to future co-productive work.
Discussion and conclusions:
Four propositions arising from this article include: (1) arts-informed approaches address context specificity and sensitivity; (2) arts-informed approaches promote engagement; (3) arts-informed approaches enhance and intertwine skills; (4) arts-informed approaches broaden thinking about impact.