A boy standing indoors, with causal clothing, wearing a VR set, holding a remote controls.
Atolye Creative Hub in Istanbul. The creative hub is located in Bomontiada in Istanbul, which also hosts restaurants, shops, an art gallery and a concert hall. ©

Poyraz Tutuncu, adapted from the original.

What is the opportunity?  

The British Council is seeking an expert, or small group of experts, to undertake a short initial contract to support their work to demonstrate the value of Seasons and Festivals programming to the UK, improve the homogeneity and depth of Seasons and Festivals evaluations and capture the full extent of tangible and intangible outcomes.

Our programme of Festivals and Seasons is designed to create highly visible cultural platforms for the whole of the UK, built around external opportunities (major anniversaries, international sporting events, Expos) and to respond to British Council, FCDO and devolved administrations’ priorities.

There are several opportunities for improving the measurement of value that British Council cultural assets generate for the UK cultural sector going forward. Building on and expand Nordcity’s recent recommendations from the previously commissioned ‘Capital for Cultural Relations’ report, which provided four pieces of advice to deepen Seasons and Festivals Data Collection. These include:

Collect Longitudinal Data: The British Council could track Seasons and Festivals’ participants over time to investigate how awareness and trust result in introductions/connections which can convert into business relationships and eventual transactions. Longitudinal studies should seek to track relationships beyond the lifetime of an intervention. 

It would also be important to ascertain the unique role of the British Council in advancing those deals (i.e., attribution). An interesting potential benchmark for attribution is to examine how many organisations are receiving introductions or showcasing opportunities in countries or markets that they would simply have no way of replicating without the British Council activity and facilitation.

Develop Projection-based Methods: To address attrition rates in participant responses, the British Council could develop a method for estimated projections shortly after a Festival or Season is complete.

Include intangible benefits: The British Council could canvass participants more directly on how participation may have generated soft benefits for their organisations, such as improved cultural competency, organisational learnings, or human/intellectual capital benefits.

Create a typology of business wins: In order to further improve the accuracy, attribution, and potential replicability of data collection, the British Council could develop a typology of similar ‘types’ of business wins for cultural organisations. Wins could be collected and tracked within ‘categories’ to help categorise the wide variation of wins that can occur.

Each of the considerations above will help the British Council to illustrate the full value of its work in supporting the UK cultural sector, as well as to further elaborate on the level of attribution to the British Council. In addition, as the methods are further developed and refined, opportunities may arise to develop ‘models’ to estimate linkages between nearer term outputs and outcomes/impacts.

Research objectives:

RQ.1 Building on the ‘Capital for Cultural Relations’ Framework by Nordicity (figure 1) what are the optimal measurement methodologies and tools to examine the tangible and intangible benefits of a British Council Seasons or Festivals using this framework and building on the work of DCMS in this area?

RQ.2 Develop a typology of cultural sector business wins: In order to further improve the accuracy, attribution, and potential replicability of data collection, develop a typology and data collection tool of similar ‘types’ of business wins for cultural organisations. Wins could be collected and tracked within ‘categories’ to help categorise the wide variation of wins that can occur. Another challenge is considering how introductions or connections made through interventions like Seasons and Festivals convert to business wins, considering that relationship-building (and subsequent business wins) happen over time and may not be dependent on one intervention only. 

RQ.3 Develop an approach and method to collecting longitudinal data through our Seasons and Festivals: Key considerations include, the British Council could track Seasons and Festivals’ participants over time to investigate how awareness and trust result in introductions/connections which can convert into business relationships and eventual transactions. Also, how can this be better accurately attributed to British Council interventions?

RQ.4 To address attrition rates in participant responses, scope and develop a method for estimated projections shortly after a Festival or Season is complete to capture the benefits articled in figure 1? Considerations include exploring the importance of British Council in advancing those deals (i.e., attribution) – an interesting potential benchmark to explore is how many organisations are receiving introductions or showcasing opportunities in countries or markets that they would simply have no way of replicating without the British Council's activities.

Qualifications required:

We are looking for a supplier (or consortium of suppliers) with:

  • a strong and demonstrated background in qualitative research and analysis in areas relevant to this project
  • good understanding of core concepts and approaches to evidence, evaluation and impact in cultural relations contexts
  • proven ability to work collaboratively and inclusively on participatory research projects that rely on close liaison and consultation with a range of stakeholders based in different parts of the world
  • a demonstrable commitment to equitable and inclusive research practice
  • demonstrable capacity to deliver a range of outputs within tight deadlines.

Outputs and deadlines:

The outputs proposed must meet the purpose of this exercise which is to develop practical approaches in response to the RQs. The outputs must be able to both influence policy and programmes (to further optimise the activity of the British Council) and to lead to better evidence and analysis. This would be to 1) better reflect the existing value of Seasons and Festivals outcomes and 2) to reflect the new value arising from better understanding, approaches and use of capitals.

Outputs from the research process are expected to include:

The specific form of the outputs will be a final report, tools and summary slide deck which provides the approaches, tools and methods based on the above research questions. Annexes must also contain full explanations of methodologies/approaches, so they can be adopted by British Council analysts (or in further contracted work) into a range of settings within British Council. There will also be a formal delivery meeting conducted remotely where this presentation will be given by the appointed expert(s) with a Q&A session. This will take place before the final report is submitted to allow for comments to be taken on board.

The style of the outputs is not expected to be academic in style, but to be of an accessible and suitable for an ‘intelligent non-expert reader’ within the British Council or similar public sector organisations. However, because a) these are the early steps in a wider programme of research and b) because there is a need to demonstrate the robustness and credibility of any approach we do expect a complete bibliography and tight referencing to existing theory and practice that supports the answers to the RQs.

The deadline for completion of the research process and delivery of the above outputs is 31 March 2022.

How to apply:

A full outline of the proposal request, the instructions for responding and evaluation criteria are available as part of the tender opportunity on our  procurement portal.

•Activity                                                                                    Date / time

•RFP Issued to bidding suppliers                                             10/11/2021

•Deadline for clarification questions (Clarification Deadline)   26/11/2021

•British Council to respond to clarification questions              29/11/2021

•Deadline for submission of Proposals (Response Deadline) 8/12/2021

•Final Decision                                                                        10/12/2021

•Contract concluded with winning supplier                            19/12/2021

•Contract start date                                                                10/12/2021.