CDN

Whitebox: Outcomes Planning Platform

WhiteBox makes the complexity of planning and evaluating of activities simple and the results powerful.

WhiteBox is an online, outcomes planning tool that enables better planning, execution and evaluation of cultural activities. The system has been developed from over four years of practice and research by the Cultural Development Network in conjunction with local government, state and commonwealth arts funding agencies and independent producers.

WhiteBox responds to the problem of a lack of consistent measures and understanding of the outcomes of cultural activity. With significant investment by governments in culture and heritage annually and the increasing focus by Auditors-General, governments and the public on outcomes, there is a need for the cultural sector to able to articulate the difference it makes.

WhiteBox ensures that all activities have intended outcomes that address the strategic goals of the organisation.  This integrates reporting into the monitoring role of the governance body of the organisation.

 

The WhiteBox system is underpinned by three key research outputs:

  1. CDN’s Framework for Cultural Development Planning 
  2. CDN’s Schema of Measurable Cultural Outcomes
  3. Core Input, Output Schema

This research is embedded into WhiteBox in the form of the 8-Step Activity Workflow that reflects what cultural managers have told us they already do, organised into 8 stages that all activities share including identification of outcomes, an evidence base and a theory of change. The 8-Step Activity Workflow together with the Schema of Measurable Outcomes ensure clear evaluation and consistent measures. Data collected in WhiteBox is able to inform future practice and is aggregable for reporting and benchmarking. When tallied regionally, WhiteBox data can provide a national picture of inputs, outputs and outcomes across the cultural sector.

WhiteBox’s intuitive 8-Step Activity Workflow is:

  • focussed on identifying and measuring the impact of cultural activities across the five public policy domains of cultural, social, economic, environmental and governance;
  • collects and builds a library of evidence-based activities and research to support a theory of change approach to delivering an activity that will directly address the identified goals of the organisation;
  • provides users/managers with an initial set of 28 accessible and consistent evaluation methods, with further combinations being trialled;
  • aggregates data from across the system or within a program or organisation to provide consistent monitoring and governance and
  • will communicate with other corporate systems i.e. scheduled marketing, traffic management providing numbers attending, dates, location etc.

Background

The WhiteBox platform is a public sector funded initiative led by CDN in partnership with the Australian capital cities through their participation in trials and development funded by the Australia Council for the Arts. The products potential has received an enthusiastic response from Australian councils, trial sites, international arts agencies and the international local government peak body UCLG (United Cities and  Local Government).

Since 2016, the planning and evaluation frameworks developed by CDN have been presented via a series of workshops for local and regional governments across the Asia Pacific and Europe, further validating the theory and application in any setting. Over the past four years, the planning and evaluation tools have been in trials in the field with councils of varying sizes and resources as well as a range of cultural organisations across Australia and the Asia Pacific.

Each of the Australian capital cities is taking the lead on behalf of the other local councils in their jurisdictions by building and integrating WhiteBox into the activities and governance processes of their city.

WhiteBox has evolved through a proof of concept stage, prototyping, field trials, multiple server trials and is currently in a final build trial to a beta version 1.0 with the City of Perth.

For more information about Whitebox please email: contact@culturaldevelopment.net.au