Impact Assessment

The Effects of Theatre on Beliefs about Business, ILO Sri Lanka, 2007

    The negative beliefs about business in rural Sri Lanka are well-attested; so are the negative effects this has on local economies and general well-being of the people of Sri Lanka. A unique field experiment was conducted to examine uses of an ILO Forum Theatre project to change this.

    Summary of results
    The results indicate the high degree to which this particular form of theatre involves its audiences, shapes their beliefs about the possibilities and benefits of starting a business. This involvement stimulates spectators to experiment, as it were, with roles and to imagine themselves in the shoes of someone who attempts to start a business. Thus they come to discover the possibilities of business and the ways in which potential obstacles can be overcome. The performances are clearly very effective in this. 41% of the sample felt strongly involved in the Forum Theatre performances.

    The results suggest that these respondents were significantly affected in terms of their beliefs about business. The result doubles the criteria set for project's success (20%). Considering the methodological problems of registering effects in field settings, it is particularly striking that statistically significant belief changes were found, not only among the people who were invited to the stage, but also for the audience as a whole. The project's Forum Theatre actors apparently found an effective way to stimulate creative thinking. The results of the study suggest that active participation strongly affected people's beliefs about business: the more the audience was involved, the stronger the effects on their beliefs.

    Especially hopeful is the finding that Forum Theatre significantly affected the audience's beliefs about business as a realistic option for their children. Furthermore, situations that meet the necessary conditions of starting a business (i.e., bank support) were considered more plausible as a result of the Forum Theatre scenarios. Also, as a result of the play, the audience believed stronger in the possibility that businesses are beneficial for their local community.

    The majority of the people who saw the performance (79% in the present sample) thought of ideas for a business themselves during the performance. Finally, the Forum Theatre events clearly create a buzz around town. The next day 87% of the participants indicated they talked to others about the performance.

    Associated Activities and Documents
    Market Assessment
    »Enterprise for Pro-Poor Growth Socio-Cultural Assessment, ILO, Sri Lanka 2006
    Programme Design
    »Enterprise for Pro-Poor Growth, ILO, Sri Lanka 2005-8
    »Enterprise for Pro-Poor Growth Progress Reports, ILO, Sri Lanka 2005-8
    Impact Assessment
    »Enterprise for Pro-Poor Growth Baseline Reports, ILO, Sri Lanka 2006
    »Impact Assessment on the Enterprise Culture Component, ILO Sri Lanka, 2008
    »Enterprise for Pro-Poor Growth Intervention Reports, ILO, Sri Lanka, 2007-8
    Final Documentation
    »Enterprise for Pro-Poor Growth Case Studies, ILO, Sri Lanka 2005-9