2. RATIONALE – EXPLANATION FOR MODIFIED FORMAT
After reviewing the possible options for the fieldwork assignment based on the broad offerings of The Global Leaders Program, we were unable to proceed with most of them for various reasons, many of which were related to the current global pandemic. As a result, we collaborated to design a creative, virtual webinar on evaluation tools that would provide value to our fieldwork host(s), even at a distance. Each of us had individual motivations to pursue this unique virtual fieldwork opportunity. Gustavo wanted to extend his Latin American network in the music field and gain value and meaning from all the music education experience gained during the last seven years of his career in the US. Michael wanted to synthesize his professional knowledge as a first-year program evaluator for a music for social change nonprofit and apply this knowledge within the cross-cultural context, specifically for Spanish-speaking communities.
Consequently, we worked with the GLP fieldwork staff to propose a solution that is now the subject of this case study. By tapping into the GLP network in Latin America, we designed a project that allowed us to share our specialized skills in program development and evaluation on a larger scale. To our knowledge, a virtual presentation or webinar about tools for evaluation designed for Spanish-speaking arts organization leaders has not been developed before as a focus of the GLP fieldwork assignment. This report therefore seeks to describe the results attained through this new venture as well as reflect on the possibility of designing future fieldwork assignments of the same nature.
a. Socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds in Latin America
It is essential to understand the dynamics of the economy in Latin America to be able to find the best suitable solutions for different social problems in various countries in the region. The work of social and music organizations in Latin America faces challenges at many levels. Most of them are related to the inherited economic issues of post-colonialism that still hinder the development of different countries in this region.
Based on the 2013 report by CEPAL (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean), economic equality still faces structural change and shows specific trends in economics and social development. For instance, the data clearly shows a reduction in the inequality gaps between 2002 and 2011 (Appendix A). The crisis has shifted to a financial crisis in which private over-indebtedness directly influences long-term employment, and recoveries are vulnerable to economic and financial volatility. (Cepal)
Even before the current pandemic crisis, the Latin America and Caribbean region showed resilience with GDP growth of 3.1% (above the global average of 2.2%), a fall in employment, increased investments, and fiscal prudence. These facts are relevant when compared to the global GDP, particularly in countries such as China with a slowdown from 9.2% to 7.7%, and modest growth in the US between 1.8% and 2.1%; and financial and fiscal imbalances in Europe with a recession of -0.5%. Further, when thinking about long-term challenges, there seem to be positive changes in inequality, investments, productivity, taxation policies, and environmental sustainability. All these will be possible if policymakers develop economic policies based on relevant, long-term sustainable vision at the macroeconomic, productive, and territorial levels that will take advantage of international context with a new equation:
At a cultural level, Latin America is one of the richest regions in the whole world due to diverse migrations that have happened over generations, blending African, Caribbean, and natives of the region and creating a melting pot of traditions, thus influencing their food, dances, poetry, music and more. Hence, it is not surprising to notice the significant number of artists in different arts fields from this region despite their many limitations throughout the years. Further, it is crucial to realize that their governments have abandoned the Latin American Arts movement in many cases. However, politicians and social leaders have recently started to realize the great potential in arts, particularly in music, to change those social patterns and produce new generations of creative professionals. This shift in leaders’ mindsets can offer a new future to creative individuals, changing their life trajectory, and consequently enhancing their communities.
b. Content accessibility in Latin America
Since the beginning of our project, we acknowledge the possible challenges in finding specific academic content for our participants, particularly with content tailored specifically for social and music organizations. However, this challenge represented an excellent opportunity for us to tailor, provide, and present a seminar for all those organizations and individuals who were willing and eager to learn about these fascinating fields related to music and social change.
Therefore, we decided to specifically focus on program evaluation since it is the expertise that was readily available for our team, developing the whole curriculum around that theme with a series of five sessions that will be further discussed in this current report.
Most of the information given to the participant was tailored for cultural and music projects using the Zoom sessions and our presentations. However, to introduce the different themes, the curriculum was curated cumulatively, having preparatory assignments (readings), which included texts drawn from various disciplines, including public health and educational research.
c. Limitations due to Covid-19
With the unprecedented situations related to the global pandemic, the Global Leaders Programs, the partner organizations, and the participants faced challenges, including the inability to travel safely to different sites worldwide. At the same time, some participants were able to conduct an alternative version of their fieldwork with some of the global allies of the GLP’s network. However, other sites could not achieve those goals due to specific local problems and restrictions, mainly due to the lack of accessibility to technology and reliable internet. These challenges across the board revealed how GLP members from their own perspective adapted and reacted during these difficult times. Our final fieldwork project represents a summary of those challenges through months of trial and error in different meetings with various organizations and GLP administration, until we were able to deliver our final product of the seminar.
3. METHODOLOGY AND CURRICULUM DESIGN
a. Course Objectives and Outline
We created the course based on several core competencies that serve as the foundation of evaluation: knowledge of what program evaluation is, the reasons for evaluating a program, and how and when to use evaluation. While providing a comprehensive course in evaluation is impossible in the span of five one-hour sessions, our objective was to provide foundational knowledge about evaluative tools that can be applied to music for social change organizations in Latin America.
The seminar included four lecture-style sessions of 60 minutes each and a final interactive workshop of 120 minutes (Figure 1). We used Microsoft Powerpoint to synthesize and present our curriculum, and hosted and recorded live each session on Zoom. All materials, presentations, bibliographies, and email correspondence were delivered in Spanish, and all materials found in English were translated by the presenters.