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One student's personal experience as a part of:

      Development Studies:
Human, Community and Environmental

More Than Performers:
Factors for Success in
Theater-for-Development Initiatives

Key Findings

 
In October 2005, Jayne Cravens completed an investigation of what elements need to be in place before an organization produces a live, in-person performance, or series of performances, as a tool for development, excluding performer training and theater techniques. The investigation was undertaken for TU874 The Development Management Project at the Open University (OU), and relevant theories of development management, as defined and promoted in OU Development Management materials, were used to inform the investigation, with a specific focus on institutional development, inter-organizational collaboration, and trust-building. The research focused on the experiences of those who have coordinated or evaluated theater-for-development (TfD) activities. The majority of the more than 30 TfD initiatives reviewed concentrated on countries in "the South", but the investigation was not limited to such. The investigation approach centered on gathering historical and qualitative data, through a literature survey and a semi-structured interview with TfD practitioners.

The researcher worked from two hypotheses. The researcher concluded, with the submission of the final research project to Open University in October 2005, that there are several factors relating to TfD success outside of performer training and theater techniques:

In addition, based on the research, TfD success needs:

The recommendation of the researcher is that, when organizations and others offer accounts of TfD initiatives, that they consider detailing, rather than only inferring, non-artistic activities undertaken and their impact on TfD success. These accounts should include information on how activities were staffed, in terms of full-time staff, part-time / short-term paid staff, and entirely volunteer, unpaid staff. This could lead to a greater understanding that success in TfD takes more than actor training and the use of theater techniques, and could lead to more successful TfD endeavors.

The researcher also concludes that more education is needed among practitioners regarding the reasons to involve volunteers in TfD, and how volunteer involvement can be structured and supported to create a volunteer culture of accountability and strong ongoing commitment.

Finally, the research concludes that TfD practitioners should consider defining systems at the start of the process to measure long-term impacts of their activities, beyond initial audience reaction. Inter-organizational relationships would probably play a fundamental role in providing the staffing and systems needed to undertake such evaluation efforts.

The full investigation will be published in an academic journal (I hope).

See More details about this investigation and announcements regarding the publication of the investigation's findings

 
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