Earlier this week, after spending four days collecting survey responses the previous weekend at Actors’ Theater’s performances of Captain Blood, I opened up a spreadsheet with data from 86 surveys and thought: now what? Collecting the data is one thing; knowing what to do with it so that Actors’ Theatre can actually put it to use is an entirely different animal.
So, I googled. Over the last week, I’ve immersed myself in best practices for analyzing survey results: margin of error, interviewer bias, response bias, etc. I also learned my new favorite feature when using a spreadsheets program: Pivot tables. Using this, I can really dig into our data to see how certain fields correlate, and it was very exciting to begin to analyze the data this week based on the relationships between data fields, like neighborhood and past attendance.
I can’t believe how excited I am about analyzing these results. I keep thinking: it’s in the data! I’ve always been on the humanities side of things, so I haven’t dealt very often with quantitative data. Through our survey and initial analysis process, I’m beginning to see how much valuable information is present in the numbers. Part of what I’m enjoying in this job is the blend of social and independent work: for four hours each night that ATC has a show, I have great conversations with audience members, and then during the week I spend time with the numbers that reflect pieces of our conversations. Working on these surveys has me reflecting on how important it is for companies (non-profit and for-profit alike) and their employees to be so focused on the people they serve, and to continually look for practices to serve them better. From spending two weeks alongside staff here at ATC, it’s clear to me that the people here are service-driven, and approaching all tasks from this mindset really draws out the meaning embedded even in the more ordinary moments of the work day.
In addition to working on survey results this week, I also started reaching out to local schools and senior centers to help expand ATC’s outreach programming in the fall, attended an ATC board meeting, and attended a Fellows Learning Session at the Columbus Foundation followed by a great lunch at North Market. Michelle Vander Stouw, Principal of On Pointe, which helps organization with strategic planning (among many other things!) spoke to us about creating a compelling message for audiences and donors, and particularly valuable to me, spoke about the importance of having measurable outcomes.