Toolkits & Guidance

Story of Toolkit development

MB Associates Client Arts Council logo

ACE self-evaluation

Arts Council England asked MB Associates to create this self-evaluation toolkit. We researched self-evaluation tools used by cultural, non-profit, and ‘other’ sectors (including education and health) to inform and provide context. We ran consultation events and a survey reaching over 80 professionals representing a wide range of cultural organisations. We recommended the best new approach to be a visual diagnostic framework tailored to different specific audiences, which we then developed.

MB Associates Client Kent County Council logo

Arts and Cultural commissioning

MB learnt a lot about commissioning after working closely with commissioners in our ‘Arts at The Heart’ project with Kent County Council (KCC), Royal Opera House Bridge and Artswork. We drew on the experience of six cultural providers, their partners and the commissioning group from the Art’s Council’s Cultural Commissioning programme to create a toolkit for the UK cultural sector as providers, and the people who might commission them to help them understand and engage with commissioning.

MB Associates Collaborator Culture Cubed logo


Culture3 is a versatile guidance and learning package to help you plan, deliver and review your work for greater social impact. This resource supports a wide range of industries, particularly those involving people and place-making initiatives. Culture is ‘cubed’ when it contributes to a triple bottom line of People, Prosperity and Planet. The guidance builds on many years of testing with cultural organisations on live projects, especially The Happy Museum, a movement for sustainable wellbeing in museums and Transported, the Creative People and Places project in Lincolnshire.
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 Arts Council logo

CPP toolkits

A £37m action-research programme funded by Arts Council England, Creative People and Places aims to increase arts participation in places where people are less likely to take part in arts and cultural activity. MB created a toolkit of different models of shared decision-making amongst CPP network projects, presenting the different approaches from conception to delivery and drawing out the pros, cons and what is working. This allowed them to better understand and share learning from the different existing approaches to decision making within the network.

Cover of An introduction to Social Return on Investment

An introduction to Social Return On Investment (SROI)

Having worked with Social Return On Investment (SROI) analysis for some years, we believe we have a clear and understandable approach to helping clients work through the process with us. This is our own booklet for those new to the methodology.

Cover of An Introduction to Wellbeing

An introduction to wellbeing

Having specialised in wellbeing for some time, we found it useful to write this booklet on why it matters and how it’s developed. It explains some of the technical language and touches on research and policy interest.

Cover of Towards Plan A

Towards Plan A

Our director Mandy Barnett was commissioned in 2013 to write a briefing paper for one of four seminars to discuss a new case for investment in culture with ACE and the RSA. In turn, she invited Daniel Fujiwara to share the authorship. The paper introduces ‘return on cultural investment’. It has since been developed into a methodology called Culture Cubed for assessing cultural capital in a local area using triple bottom line thinking.


The LIFE toolkit and App

LIFE stands for: Learning, Interaction, Feelings and Environmental outcomes for cultural wellbeing. Cultural LIFE is a free to join research project into cultural wellbeing, which will help you to evidence the impact of your service or project robustly The work was developed by the national campaign Happy Museums in partnership with happiness economist Daniel Fujiwara, with Oxford University and lately in partnership with Social Value UK and MB Associates. We worked with 22 museums over two years to refine the content, and the questions link to national data for ease of comparison. It also contributed to a Knowledge Exchange project with Oxford Internet Institute in Spring 2018.

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