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Having strong family links with Kent and East Sussex, I am a little bit ashamed to say I haven’t made it to the De La Warr Pavillion… yet! That’s why I was delighted when I saw DLWP as a possible client for my final year consultancy university module.

I’m one part of a five person team from UCL’s Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (BASc) course who was partnered to work with DLWP. Us “BAScers”, as we like to refer to ourselves, are encouraged to study a broad range of subjects and then work together to apply our specialisms to real world scenarios. From Geochemistry to Documentary Radio; we are a varied bunch!

The course culminates in a module called The Knowledge Economy in which we are let loose on a real life consultancy project. The five of us who were partnered with DLWP, were absolutely delighted – we’re all very interested in arts and culture and love the work DLWP do. In normal years we would all go on a little “school trip” to experience the Pavilion in person and observe some of the activities: from exhibitions, live concerts, reading groups, to community wellbeing groups. COVID-19 sadly didn’t allow us to visit, but nonetheless the 4 month project that followed was an invaluable learning experience for all of us.

We started the project back in September with a meeting with Director of External Relations, Sally Ann Lycett, and Director and Chief Executive, Stewart Drew. They were keen to develop a way of assessing the economic and social impact of DLWP in an integrated way. To date, these have been considered separately, but the work of the Pavilion is inherently economic and social so considering them together makes sense. Sally and Stewart sent over stakeholder reports, internal assessments, and internal data, and we eagerly set to work building a contextual understanding of the Pavilion.

Our varied skills really came in handy. Jess and Yasmin have taken modules in Arts, Nature and Wellbeing which introduced them to quantitative analysis of social activities, whilst Ilana has focussed on economics, and myself and Sofie have done a lot of programming, enabling us to understand the more traditional economic aspects. With these perspectives, we adopted a method of converting social impact into a quantitative language, thereby enabling a holistic socioeconomic impact analysis that considers the wide range of DLWP activities.

Within the scope of our project, we weren’t able to actually undertake the socioeconomic impact assessment – this requires detailed analysis of stakeholders and the local economy and, given COVID-19 and Brexit, is likely to rapidly change this year! Sally and Stewart were really receptive to this limitation, and we collectively decided that we would focus on producing a framework for future work to be undertaken. We also developed a usable model for DLWP to simply input their data and receive an annual update so they can compare the impact year on year.

Having talked it through and responded to feedback, we completed the report and models in early January and were delighted that Sally and Stewart were pleased with the work. The five of us had a catch up afterwards and all agreed that we were only able to produce the report we did due to the continuous conversations with DLWP and their willingness to trust us in our work.

And so whilst we didn’t get a trip to the seaside, it was fascinating to see the inner workings of one of Britain’s leading cultural centres, we all learned a lot, and it’s definitely top of the staycation list as soon as lockdown is lifted.

So thanks to the Pavilion, the module convenors, and the rest of the team for making the project a great experience, and I’ll see you in Bexhill soon!

Rosalind Chston

The “BAScers” were  Rosalind Chaston, Ilana Cohen-Boulakia, Yasmin Jiang, Sofie Mogenson, Jessica Thorpe

Sally Ann Lycett, Director of External Relations, DLWP said:

“We are very happy with the study. The group took the challenge and created and ran with a project that went beyond our expectations, whilst taking us through it step by step. They listened and took the initiative in producing a useful  and relevant tool that we can work with going forward, providing evidence of our socioeconomic impact on an annual basis. It was a very positive collaboration with a professional team. We look forward to welcoming them all for lunch by the sea as soon as the pandemic allows”

Posted by sally on Friday 19 February 2021