Our Work

Our work is as varied as the organisations and projects we support. Here is a selection of our recent clients which we hope will give you a flavour of the work we do.
MB Associates Client Transported logo

Transported

Transported is one the Arts Council England’s Creative People and Place projects, with an ambition to inspire more people to take part in new arts activity across rural South Lincolnshire. MB Associates has conducted multiple evaluations for Transported over seven years, looking at the social impact they make on people, communities and place. Early in our partnership we devised a method combining several SROI analyses with very broad audience analysis to assess the impact of this £2.5M programme. The experience has showed us how comparison of discrete evaluations within a programme reveals more than an overarching approach, in this case through five in-depth SROI analyses. Since then, we have been working alongside the team to build and embed evaluation skills and practice.

MB Associates Client Showtown’s Open up the mic project logo

Open Up the Mic Blackpool

Showtown’s Open Up the Mic project explores the potential of laughter and comedy in promoting good mental health and improving resilience in young people. MB Associates developed & implemented an evaluation plan to measure the social impact of the project, capturing their Story of Change and assessing how the project has met all its outcomes. Our report informed how the Museum can embed this programme’s legacy, the learning from it also being more widely applicable across the cultural sector and health sectors.

MB Associates Client Coventry City of Culture logo

Coventry City of Culture

In 2021, Coventry was chosen to be the UK’s City of Culture, a four-yearly annual festival to “invest in the local economy, grow tourism and put the arts and culture centre stage”. MB conducted an ambitious Social Return On Investment (SROI) forecast and evaluation of the programme in order to understand whether the projects made a real difference to people, place and planet, and to assess the value added through the umbrella of the City of Culture. We investigated seven projects in-depth (three during the Pilot Phase) combining support for project teams to gather qualitative and quantitative data, with rigorous analysis and comparison with national datasets. Our innovative Story of Change and Value of Change workshops gave underrepresented groups a real voice in planning and prioritising outcomes and validating our findings.

MB Associates Client Reading Place of Culture logo

Reading

This Great Place Scheme, titled ‘Reading, Place of Culture’ is designed to embed culture and heritage at the heart of ‘place-making’ strategies. MB Associates developed a monitoring and evaluation framework for the delivery of the scheme, which allowed Reading Place of Culture to meet National evaluation requirements and support learning and change. Our work included piloting a number of new approaches, including those that enable cultural and community groups to work more closely together and bring culture to the forefront of community engagement, engendering cohesion and well-being.

MB Associates Client Suffolk Museum logo

Suffolk

The Association for Suffolk Museums used public health funds to support the Suffolk cultural sector, working with communities that have been disproportionately disadvantaged by the Covid virus. The importance of measuring the impact of this programme has long term implications for the development of the service and future investment in the sector. Our work focused on three things:

  1. Evaluating the impact of investment into a Theatre in Education project, a project led by Aspire Black Suffolk and a small grants support programme.
  2. Development of a legacy toolkit to support a more joined up approach to evaluation including the development of our LIFE App.
  3. Capacity building using our Culture Cubed training and mentoring programme.
MB Associates Client So Festival logo

SO Festival

SO Festival is an annual, international festival run by leisure group Magna Vitae. The Festival is delivered by a small but proactive team, who also work closely with the wider Magna Vitae team. The team was interested in understanding it’s wider social impact, with a focus on becoming more socially-engaged by increasing co-production, whilst also maintaining the international dimension. We delivered a tailored version of our Culture Cubed training and mentoring programme over a period of 4 months, designed to allow the team to apply their learning live during the Festival. Our collaborative work resulted in a co-curated report and recommendations which have influenced plans for the next Festival.

MB Associates Client Living Words logo

Living Words

Living Words is an art and literature organisation whose aim is to improve the lives of Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients and other isolated and disempowered people. We worked with them closely on organisational change and development through the co-creation of a story of change, evaluation framework and evidence base for understanding the impact they have on people, prosperity and planet. This work generated the content for a more focused and prioritised business plan.

MB Associates Client Trestle logo

Trestle

Trestle is a mask and physical theatre company whose aim is to inspire creativity through participation and collaboration. They wanted help in identifying key priorities and refocusing the company around their learning offer. Our team conducted a strategic Story of Change process with senior management and the Board of Trustees resulting in recommendations for next steps to contribute to a 5-year business strategy.

MB Associates Client Southbank Centre logo

SROI for Kids Takeover, Southbank Centre

As one of the most prestigious arts centres in the world, the Southbank Centre provides extraordinary events, workshops, performances, and exhibitions for thousands of visitors. The team has an unwavering commitment to excellence, and they wanted to make sure their impact evaluation matched the quality of their programming. MB were appointed to deliver the analysis of their first Kids Takeover event as part of the Imagine Festival 2013. Our work included consulting with children, staff, schools, and families to understand the personal and community impact of kids taking over the front of house role in the organisation.

MB Associates Client Tideway logo

Tideway

Tideway is the company delivering the Thames Tideway Tunnel, a multi-million pound new sewer for London. We were commissioned to carry out five ‘deep-dive’ project assessments of social impact. The projects range from, a national infrastructure innovation platform, to a schools programme with Creekside Education Trust, working with different departments and individuals, from delivery to the senior team. Bringing these together allowed us to find the Common Success Factors that work across all projects in delivering positive impacts. Our report was written in a language accessible to on-site engineers, senior project managers, and community groups, for a shared understanding of how corporations can impact communities, and vice versa.

MB Associates Client Ebbsfleet Garden City logo

Ebbsfleet

Ebbsfleet Development Corporation (EDC) work in urban development. They are supporting the delivery of the first Garden City in over one hundred years and are keen to measure and monitor the impact of their work within the regeneration area. We were appointed by EDC’s place-making team to create an Outcomes Framework for a healthy community. We populated it with objective data from reliable, long-term sources like the ONS and Defra, and linked it to the Sustainable Development Goals and EDC’s policies. We ran a residents’ survey to create companion subjective data. The Framework is shaped into a pyramid; the easiest for EDC to influence are the local Assets, which give people Access, and must be designed for Inclusion of a wide demographic. Once those are in place, we will see Engagement and finally, Quality of Life as communities take ownership.

MB Associates Client Dounreay logo

Dounreay

Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL) is the site license company responsible for the clean-up and demolition of Britain’s former centre of fast reactor research and development. MB Associates were commissioned to support development of the Social Value aspects of the DSRL Programme Business Case.

MB Associates Client Great Place Lakes & Dales logo

GPLD

The Nurturing Creativity programme offers support and innovative approaches to develop knowledge and confidence to help young people connect, create and sustain skills for future careers and wellbeing. MB combined evidence from existing datasets, project feedback and Value of Change workshops to develop an evaluation framework for the programme. This allowed GPLD to review their work against the core outcomes of; new young people informed, included & empowered, new collaborations & deeper partnerships, and learning that empowers & good practice that is shared, leading to creativity being increasingly valued. We continue to work with GPLD to embed evaluation within the organisation.

MB Associates Client iSH logo

ISH

ISH is an enterprise social value initiative bringing together industry, SMEs, academia, national bodies, research facilities and community stakeholders into a business focused network supporting new skills and employment, business growth and a resilient local economy. We work with the Cleator Moor hub to put in place a Benefits Realisation Strategy, plan and supporting culture that enables the iSH Programme to optimise and demonstrate delivery of the impacts that stakeholders value, at the right time for the right people, taking advantage of opportunities for added value.

MB Associates Client Coventry City of Culture logo

Coventry City of Culture

In 2021, Coventry was chosen to be the UK’s City of Culture, a four-yearly annual festival to “invest in the local economy, grow tourism and put the arts and culture centre stage”. MB conducted an ambitious Social Return On Investment (SROI) forecast and evaluation of the programme in order to understand whether the projects made a real difference to people, place and planet, and to assess the value added through the umbrella of the City of Culture. We investigated seven projects in-depth (three during the Pilot Phase) combining support for project teams to gather qualitative and quantitative data, with rigorous analysis and comparison with national datasets. Our innovative Story of Change and Value of Change workshops gave underrepresented groups a real voice in planning and prioritising outcomes and validating our findings.

MB Associates Client Fun Palaces logo

Fun Palaces

Fun Palaces is a national cultural activist movement for communities across the UK and internationally, based on the idea of ‘everyone an artist everyone a scientist’. Like much of our work, this was a formative evaluation where a national programme dovetailed with local delivery. We worked with the directors and central team to establish a Story of Change, and with volunteers in ten organisations, using light touch evaluation methods like ‘fly on the wall’.

MB Associates Client Make Culture Work logo

Make Culture Work

Along with Pippa Jones and Jocelyn Cunningham our Director, Mandy Barnett, is a founder of Making Culture Work, an exchange network for anyone interested in how culture impacts on people and places. Making Culture Work held three events in 2013 with the sector to agree what was needed. Lately it has focused on organisational learning, discussing with the sector how the Arts Council’s self-evaluation framework could be improved.

MB Associates Client Kent County Council logo

Arts at The Heart

Arts at the heart is our evaluation report of a project for vulnerable young people in Kent. It was a pilot in which six arts organisations were contracted by public health to help the young people learn about the ‘Six Ways to Wellbeing’. MB evaluated the whole programme of support, surveying commissioners and providers as well as the wider cultural and public sectors. The pilot also helped us to learn about the tips and pitfalls for cultural organisations beginning to be commissioned. As a result, we created an online toolkit and animation on behalf of Kent CC, Artswork and ROH Bridge with our design partners Morph.

MB Associates Client The Living Centre logo

Living Centre

The St Pancras and Somers Town Living Centre is a non-profit organisation that inspires and equips people in St Pancras and Somers Town to achieve lasting improvements in their community. The Living Centre has a unique partnership with the neighbouring Crick Institute, who commissioned MB Associates to work closely with local communities, senior management, and partners to evaluate overall impact and value for money over a 5-year period from 2017-2022. We gathered data from all services under The Living Centre and surveyed both users and non-users from the local community. To do so, we had the help of a team of Community Researchers, which resulted wide representation across local community groups.

MB Associates Client ACTion logo
MB Associates Collaborator Cumbria Action for Sustainability logo

Rebuilding together – social productivity

Cumbria CVS, together with Action with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) and Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS) collaborated on the lottery funded Rebuilding Together project. This wide-ranging project was designed to support Cumbrian communities to become more resilient in the wake of the floods in December 2015, and help local people, communities, and organisations to prepare for similar events in the future. We used our Story of Change process to create an evaluation framework and report for the project.

MB Associates Client Living Words logo

Living Words

Living Words is an art and literature organisation whose aim is to improve the lives of Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients and other isolated and disempowered people. We worked with them closely on organisational change and development through the co-creation of a story of change, evaluation framework and evidence base for understanding the impact they have on people, prosperity and planet. This work generated the content for a more focused and prioritised business plan.

MB Associates Client Historic England logo

Historic England: Enriching the List 

Historic England is the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment. The ‘Enriching The List’ (ETL) project provides an opportunity for people to share insights into their local historical places. Our work for Historic England focused on making it easier for community partners to engage with ETL. Following in depth consultation with a range of stakeholders we developed a model for heritage to engage communities and social prescribers and promote ETL as having a purpose, including as a wellbeing tool. The resulting toolkit will encourage more relevant contributions to ‘Enriching The List’ from groups that meet barriers when accessing British heritage.

MB Associates Client Bristol City Council logo

Bristol

In 2017, Bristol City Council set out a new strategic approach to grant investment aiming to tackle inequality through a new programme called the Bristol Impact Fund (BIF). The Fund supports the work of equalities-led groups, neighbourhood communities and people experiencing the greatest inequality. Our work includes delivery of a long-term programme of co-created evaluation work, including capacity building workshops, one-to-one support, data gathering, analysis and reporting, to help each organisation and the overall programme tell the story of the impact of bringing the funds together.

MB Associates Client Power to Change logo

Power to Change

Power to Change’s (PtC) mission is to strengthen community businesses, aiming to build capacity and capabilities for long term sustainability. PtC’s own research revealed a need for greater support for community businesses to measure and articulate their impact. We are supporting them to dig deeper into these findings. Our work includes exploring the barriers, strengths, support needs and best practice, to then co-create a package of support with and for UK-wide community businesses.

MB Associates Client National Children’s Orchestra logo

National Children’s Orchestra

We are critical friend to a number of different organisations, including the National Children’s Orchestra. Key early work included the development of a socially focused Story of Change, evaluation framework, focusing on the PERMA model of Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and purpose, and Achievement and mastery. We co-created impact measurement tools with young people to ensure consistency across all programmes. And we have since delivered team workshops using our Culture Cubed training programme to build a legacy of a robust impact measurement and change within the organisation.

MB Associates Client oneAIM logo

Leader to Leader SROI

OneAIM was a joint venture between Amec Foster Wheeler and Interserve, who worked together to support reprocessing plants and facilities at the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria. Our work with OneAim was to deliver a Social Return on Investment analysis of the Leader to Leader 8-month programme for businesses in west Cumbria. The focus of this work was to analyse the value of sponsoring places on the existing programme, specifically for local SMEs.

MB Associates Client Association of Independent Museums logo

AIM

We supported the Association for Independent Museums to develop and evaluate their national programme, which helped heritage organisations to prosper. AIM developed a set of ‘Hallmarks’ of a successful museum and a sector-wide development programme funded by ACE. The programme filled a gap in the market in supporting museum leadership to align themselves better with a people-centred approach; with their boards, staff, volunteers and audiences. Using a Story of Change approach, we helped them to plan for the greatest possible impact and evaluate their progress.

MB Associates Client Kent County Council logo

Kent NHS SROI

NHS Kent & Medway is responsible for managing, designing and co-creating the health and care services required for the local population. Kent NHS are keen to understand the social outcomes of their work, demonstrating the value and impact it has on participants as well as how it contributes to the development of talent and future workforce. We are working with the team to undertake two Social Return on Investment assessments: a T-Levels Forecast and a Volunteers Review.

Cairngorms National Park logo

Cairngorms

The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) has received funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to conduct the most ambitious programme ever undertaken, aiming for and contributing to Net Zero 2045. We were commissioned to evaluate the Development Phase of the programme, generate learnings and recommendations to inform the Delivery Phase, and work closely with the CNPA team and SEFARI Knowledge Exchange programme to create a detailed evaluation framework, in particular highlighting innovation through a combined approach to wellbeing, nature, and climate action.

MB Associates Client The Happy Museum logo

Happy Museum

The Happy Museum Project tests what museums would be like in a sustainable future and shares its learning with the sector. We have both evaluated the programme and written much of the guidance and tools that have resulted. Happy Museum has a set of guiding principles, the most important of which are that we must care better for place people and planet in the future, and that doing so will also increase wellbeing. The wellbeing valuation work we commissioned was a new departure for the cultural sector.

MB Associates Client Community Lottery Fund logo

The National Lottery Climate Action Fund

We are supporting learning by the Climate Action Fund, which invests in community groups leading climate emergency responses across England and Wales. We work with the National Lottery team to create project and programme level evaluation frameworks and support projects in their social and environmental impact and evaluation, especially focusing on behaviour change. We have created an online learning hub, mentor and buddying scheme and cohort events to build a movement and improve sustainability, influence, and societal change.

MB Associates Client Eureka logo

Eureka!

Over a period of 4 years, we designed and managed an innovative programme of co-creation between young people, businesses and industry specialists and specialists from Eureka! to build a new science and discovery centre on the Wirral. This is the first attraction of this kind in the area and the resulting attraction, Eureka Science + Discovery, is celebrated and owned by the local communities who helped to shape it.

MB Associates Client Science & Media Museum logo

The National Science and Media Museum

We worked with the team at NSMM, families, schools and general visitors to develop and deliver an evaluation for Wonderlab and generate a report drawing on multiple perspectives of the impact of the new interactive Wonderlab gallery. We used a variety of methodologies to capture the impact on visitors including visitor mapping and visualisation, focus groups, one to one interviews, observations, and staff reflective workshops.

MB Associates Client Primary Business Partnership logo

Primary Business Partnership SROI

MB Associates Client Coventry City of Culture logo

Animals!

This was one of five projects within a wider evaluation commissioned by Coventry City of Culture Trust. Animals! was a pre-planned Theatre in Education and community performance which toured local primary schools for two months. MB conducted an in-depth impact study to demonstrate and learn from social impact of this project and the wider programme. In this case, children were surveyed before and after the performances and contributed to a Value of Change exercise.

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