3 Evaluating at different stages of the project
3.1 Evaluation while developing the vision
A project is often shaped through discussion among those developing the vision and direction of the project. They may agree in general terms about what is to be achieved, but have to make a number of choices before deciding how to proceed. It may be important to allow time for different views to be heard and considered, and for attitudes to change and – hopefully – converge.
Example 5: Developing the vision of the Tate Modern
The Tate Gallery in London had successfully established outposts in St Ives and Liverpool to make modern and contemporary art accessible to people outside London. However, another concern developed during the 1980s. The Tate had always had two focal areas, a historical collection of 400 years of British art and the major British collection of international modern and contemporary art. The collections were far greater than the display space, and so much was in permanent storage. The Trustees of the Tate had begun to feel that there should be two separate buildings and the approaching Millennium offered the possibility of attracting funding.
The key figure at the Tate during the 1990s was its director, Nicholas Serota. It was he who initiated the project, although all key decisions were made by the Trustees. One criterion everyone thought important was that any new site should be accessible to Londoners and visitors to the city. However, large enough sites in central London were rarely available and very expensive. It was important that the site should be impressive to enable the Tate Modern to rival other new galleries, for example, the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the Getty in Los Angeles, both of which were in new and striking buildings.
Peter Wilson, the Tate's Head of Gallery Services at the time, noticed the empty Bankside building when the Trustees were considering the possibility of using river transport to the former Billingsgate Fishmarket, that was a potential site. Other Tate directors went to look at the disused Bankside power station but thought that it looked too big. Serota became intrigued and tells the story that he stopped off on his way home and walked along the length and width of the building. He said, ‘…it occurred to me that if I was in Frankfurt or Cologne and saw this building and was told that it was being converted to be a Museum of Modern Art, I wouldn't be surprised.’
Many disagreed. Michael Craig-Martin was a painter and a Trustee who said, ‘I much preferred originally the idea that it was going to be a wholly new building, and I fully expected that it was going to be, until we went to see Bankside.’ He was impressed by the size of the building and the space that would be available. ‘The most important thing for art is to have plenty of space. And for an institution whose role is to expand, to be able to have a building which allows for future development is a fantastic thing for a museum.’
There were also disadvantages. A new building could have made a dramatic architectural statement and attracted funding and publicity. The 1950s Bankside power station looked forbidding to many people. Serota argued that the building would allow them to: ‘bring together a mid-twentieth century vision and a late twentieth-century vision.’ It was not easy to reach, although set in an imposing site on the river opposite St Paul's Cathedral. The area around the power station was unattractive and run-down, but the local authority were very supportive of the project because it would bring training and employment to this deprived area and later a constant stream of visitors.
Many stakeholders may become involved in evaluation in the early stages of a project, in imagining what it might mean for them and how it might present advantages or disadvantages. The anticipated impact of the project can be usefully evaluated in the early stages, to ensure that the investment of energy and resources can be expected to achieve the intended results.