Towards an “Evaluation Dilemmas Model” – designing an evaluation scheme for a European capital of culture

Hans-Peter Degn, Steven Hadley*, Louise Ejgod Hansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: During the evaluation of European Capital of Culture (ECoC) Aarhus 2017, the evaluation organisation rethinkIMPACTS 2017 formulated a set of “dilemmas” capturing the main challenges arising during the design of the ECoC evaluation. This functioned as a framework for the evaluation process. This paper aims to present and discuss the relevance of the “Evaluation Dilemmas Model” as subsequently applied to the Galway 2020 ECoC programme evaluation. Design/methodology/approach: The paper takes an empirical approach including auto-ethnography and interview data to document and map the dilemmas involved in undertaking an evaluation in two different European cities. Evolved via a process of practice-based research, the article addresses the development of and the arguments for the dilemmas model and considers its potential for wider applicability in the evaluation of large-scale cultural projects. Findings: The authors conclude that the “Evaluation Dilemmas Model” is a valuable heuristic for considering the endogenous and exogenous issues in cultural evaluation. Practical implications: The model developed is useful for a wide range of cultural evaluation processes including – but not limited to – European Capitals of Culture. Originality/value: What has not been addressed in the academic literature is the process of evaluating ECoCs; especially how evaluators often take part in an overall process that is not just about the evaluation but also planning and delivering a project that includes stakeholder management and the development of evaluation criteria, design and methods.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArts and the Market
Pages (from-to)29-44
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • Evaluation
  • Evaluation dilemmas
  • Cultural events
  • European Capital of Culture (ECOC)
  • Evaluation process
  • European capitals of culture


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