Arts and cultural experiences are now considered key players in the drive to improve wellbeing. But with dwindling funds to facilitate access to arts and cultural life, organisations are coming under increasing pressure to articulate why arts and culture matters. A widening body of evidence suggests that existing evaluation approaches are failing all involved, with conventional evaluation tools erecting barriers to reporting: capturing only what is convenient, rather than ‘what matters’, and placing an unnecessary reporting burden on organisations. We have worked closely with co-researchers to develop a new type of evaluation that can work for all involved. This practice stands out for how it re-centres participants within the evaluation process itself: the measures used (‘what matters’) are grounded in the real-life experiences of diverse older adults. Here, participants hold greater agency in directing the evaluation process, making evaluation choices, and building insight back into their own lives. Recognising the potential value of further developing this approach, this aspect of the project has been awarded further funding by the University’s Participatory Research Fund to work with partners Wellspring and St George’s, a music venue. Karen Gray and Tim Senior are the CTC researchers carrying this forward. To the right you can see their colourful evaluation activity and read a description of their process. In this blog post Tim outlines the approach.