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Arts and Cultural Education

Arts and cultural education is an area that, in terms of its content and mission, transverses the cultural and educational sectors. Both European and international documents recognise it as an important area of lifelong learning.

UNESCO’s documents: the Road Map for Arts Education (2006) and the Seoul Agenda: Goals for the Development of Arts Education (2010), foreground arts and cultural education as a fundamental human right that must form part of every individual’s lifelong learning.

In line with UNESCO’s recommendation, Slovenia’s Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, and the National Education Institute jointly outlined the development of arts and cultural education. We have been systematically developing arts and cultural education (ACE) across various sectors:

  • ACE is included in the National Programmes for Culture and other national strategy documents dealing with the areas of culture and education or documents stressing the importance of fostering overall children and youth development. An initiative aimed at integration within these areas was already included in the 2004­–2007 National Programme for Culture, whereas the 2008-2011 National Programme for Culture formulated ACE as a transversal and integrating area, crossing and interrelating not only culture and education but all areas of culture and the arts. We continued this practice with the 2014–2017 National Programme for Culture.
  • We formulated the National Guidelines for Arts and Cultural Education in Education;
  • We provide national ACE professional training and professional literature in this field;
  • We are building a national Arts and Cultural Education Network.

It is in the public interest to establish partnerships (from the national to the local level) between educational institutions and professional cultural institutions (from public institutions to NGOs), while forging partnerships with other sectors is of equal importance.

It is essential that the role and importance of arts and cultural education (ACE) are systematically identified and promoted in the overall education system and broader society. It is necessary to ensure the accessibility of a professional and quality Slovenia-wide programme of cultural education for children and young people, both in the framework of formal and of non-formal education. Children and young people should be provided with an insight into different fields of culture and the arts, both in the educational process and in their leisure time:

  • In terms of accepting and learning about culture (young people as active, reflective and critical readers, spectators, participants in and attendees at cultural events),
  • In terms of research into the arts (both contemporary arts and cultural heritage), and
  • In terms of creativity (young people as creators and active participants in different cultural activities).

European Guidelines for Arts and Cultural Education

UNESCO’s guidelines identify arts and cultural education as an individual’s fundamental right, an education that must form part of lifelong learning. It is therefore imperative to provide everyone, especially children and young people, with quality and systematic arts and cultural education which enables them to develop awareness of different art forms, gain critical understanding of them, and learn about one’s national culture and cultural heritage and other culturesthus promoting intercultural dialogue. All this is underlined by another important document: Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning (2006). This sets a frame of reference identifying eight key competences considered vital to the development of quality and forward-looking education and training, including the competence of cultural awareness and expression.

Each of these eight competences is defined through knowledge, skills, and the relationships associated with it. At the same time, emphasis is placed on the fact that lifelong competences are all inextricably linked and intertwined. It is crucial that these competences are developed in children and young people throughout the entire educational process.

The European ACEnet (Arts and Cultural Education Net), a network of professional staff and civil servants specialising in ACE in the cultural or education sectors, also plays an important role in the development of arts and cultural education at the European level. The main objective of the network, in operation since 2002, is to exchange good practices in the field of ACE. The Net enjoys the continuing support of the EU’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture.

On the initiative of ACEnet a Eurydice comparative study presenting data from 31 countries, “Arts and Cultural Education at School in Europe”, was conducted in 2009. The study allows comparison between various EU countries, as well as obtaining an insight into and sharing examples of good practice.

The Key Competence of Cultural Awareness and Expression

 In 2018, the European Commission updated the 2006 Recommendation, and its new recommendation defines the competence of cultural awareness and expression as follows:

Cultural awareness and expression competence

Competence in cultural awareness and expression involves having an understanding of and respect for how ideas and meaning are creatively expressed and communicated in different cultures and through a range of arts and other cultural forms. It involves being engaged in understanding, developing and expressing one’s own ideas and sense of place or role in society in a variety of ways and contexts.

Essential knowledge, skills and attitudes related to this competence

This competence requires knowledge of local, national, regional, European and global cultures and expressions, including their languages, heritage and traditions and cultural products, and an understanding of how these expressions can influence each other as well as the ideas of the individual. It includes understanding the different ways of communicating ideas between creator, participant and audience within written, printed, and digital texts, theatre, film, dance, games, art and design, music, rituals, and architecture, as well as hybrid forms. It requires an understanding of one’s own developing identity and cultural heritage within a world of cultural diversity and how arts and other cultural forms can be a way to both view and shape the world.

Skills include the ability to express and interpret figurative and abstract ideas, experiences and emotions with empathy, and the ability to do so in a range of arts and other cultural forms. Skills also include the ability to identify and realise opportunities for personal, social or commercial value through the arts and other cultural forms and the ability to engage in creative processes, both as an individual and collectively.

It is important to have an open attitude towards, and respect for, diversity of cultural expression together with an ethical and responsible approach to intellectual and cultural ownership. A positive attitude also includes a curiosity about the world, an openness to imagine new possibilities, and a willingness to participate in cultural experiences.

In reference to the Cultural Awareness and Expression competence, the European Commission also gave emphasis to the findings of a working group consisting of EU Member States’ experts in the fields of culture and education at the EU level who drew up the Cultural Awareness and Expression Handbook (2016) underlining four fundamental concepts of ACE:

Education in the arts/culture

  1. Arts/cultural education for its own sake, which means acquiring cultural and artistic competences as an essential dimension in the development of a whole person, including:
  • artistic skills;
  • cultural identity;
  • cultural heritage;
  • audience development.

Education through the arts/culture

2. Impact of arts/cultural education on teaching and learning, aimed at the renewal of didactics or educational systems, including:

  • creative learning in schools, transfer effects to cognitive competences, interdisciplinary approaches to specific topics;
  • multiple learning styles, individualisation of learning approaches;
  • development of educational systems and subsystems (whole institution approach), fostering cross-curricular learning (STEAM).

3. Social impact of arts/cultural education, aimed at social cohesion through participation in artistic practice, culture and society, including:

  • cultural diversity, intercultural awareness and dialogue;
  • sustainable development.

4. Impact of arts/cultural education on the economic development of individuals and societies, mainly focused on:

  • learning specific skills in the context of professional training for creative industries (e.g. media, folk art, crafts, design);
  • creativity as a 21st century skill for innovative societies.

National Arts and Cultural Education Guidelines

National Guidelines for Arts and Cultural Education in Education were formulated in 2009 by an Extended Cross-Field Cultural Education Group (experts in different fields of education and culture) appointed by the National Education Institute of Slovenia in 2008.

The Guidelines highlight and create awareness of the role of arts and cultural education in improving the quality of education and developing individual creativity, whilst stressing the importance of art and culture for twenty-first century society. The document draws attention to the need for a closer integration of culture, science and education, as well as to the importance of developing the talent and creativity of each individual – faculties fostered precisely by arts education. The Guidelines highlight Slovenia’s national efforts at making culture and art accessible to different groups (a fundamental right to culture). The objectives of arts and cultural education are achieved by way of cross-curricular contributions and activities integrated into the overall educational from preschool to upper-secondary schools. Furthermore, reaching arts and cultural education objectives enhances the development of culture at large. Another importance of the Guidelines lies in their providing a definition of arts and cultural education and introducing a common understanding of this concept in education.

The Guidelines are aimed at education staff in preschools and schools, professional staff in cultural institutions, as well as artists, politicians, parents, and the general public. In the context of formal education, arts and cultural education is complemented by non-formal education – the various cultural education leisure-time activities of children and young people (also with reference to a healthy lifestyle).

Areas included under ACE

The list of areas of culture and the arts included under ACE was compiled in 2008 on the basis of the then applicable National Programme for Culture, but this is being continually updated in accordance with UNESCO’s guidelines and the National Guidelines for Arts and Cultural Education in Education.

ACE includes and integrates:

  • Architecture, space, and design
  • Archival cataloguing
  • Reading culture
  • Film
  • Musical arts
  • Theatre
  • Intermedia arts
  • Cultural heritage
  • Fine arts
  • Museums
  • Dance

National Professional ACE Training

Since 2009, the Ministry of Culture (MC), the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport (MESS), and the National Education Institute of Slovenia (NEIS) have been systematically providing professional ACE staff with additional professional in-service training. The aim of the training is to promote the systematic development of arts and cultural education (ACE) within educational institutions, cultural institutions, and local communities, as well as to identify the advantages of cooperation and partnerships between all three stakeholders. Through training, we are fulfilling our long-term goal the establishment of a national and regional network of ACE coordinators that will provide children and young people with a more accessible quality ACE in all areas of culture.

In addition to the Cultural Bazaar, Slovenia’s largest national professional training scheme in the field of ACE that is held annually at Cankarjev dom, and the Cultural Bazaar in a Region, a biennial interregional project launched in 2017, we have been organising and promoting other national or regional professional training, both general (encompassing all ACE areas) and sector-specific.

In the period between 2012 and 2016 we carried out regional consultations addressing the issue of How to improve the daily lives of children and young people with culture in all Slovenian regions. The aims of the consultations were to illustrate the importance and effects of a systematic arts and cultural education (ACE) and to encourage closer cooperation between kindergartens and schools, cultural institutions, and local communities. The consultation programmes included examples of good practice in culture and the arts across a wide spectrum of art forms that testify to the added value of such cooperation and networking.

Since 2016, we have been organising sectoral consultations in cooperation with sectoral cultural institutions – e.g. Literacy for Theatre; National Animated Film Consultation;  Together Towards Knowledge: Cultural Heritage as a Subject Matter, Museums and Galleries as Expanded Classrooms; Reading as a Value…

Between 2017–19, in cooperation with the Slovenian Olympic Committee, we held consultations during the European Week of Sport focused on integrating sports with arts and culture, which resulted in the launch of a year-round cross-sectoral national project #športajmoinberimo (#doingsports&reading) in 2020.

Since 2019, we organised Potentials for Integration – expert meetings for ACE coordinators employed at cultural institutions – aimed at promoting the more active integration of different areas of culture and the arts at national, regional and local levels. From 2018, we have been organising Building a Network for Creativity, a professional meeting for all registered ACE coordinators (representatives of educational institutions, cultural institutions, and local communities). The aim of these expert meetings is to learn about good practices, exchange experiences, find new opportunities for creative integration, etc.

National Cross-sectoral ACE Projects

In cooperation with cultural institutions, MC, MESS and NEIS have been developing, supporting and organising new national cross-sectoral ACE projects since 2006:

Growing up with a Book: in 2006, the first national project aimed at fostering a reading culture was launched across different sectors; since 2009 the project has been run under the aegis of the Slovenian Book Agency.

Cultural Bazaar: the largest national ACE project has been developed and organised since 2009; the executive producer of the project is Cankarjev dom Ljubljana.

Cultural Heritage Week: we joined this national project that was held annually during  European Heritage Days in 2010, on the initiative of the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of Slovenia (lead partner).

National Month of Reading Together (NMRT): since 2018, we have been partners of the NMRT project and the Reading Together campaign initiated by cultural institutions dedicated to fostering reading culture; the executive producer of the project is the Reading Badge of Slovenia – Slovenian Association of Friends of Youth (SAFY), and the lead partner is the Slovenian Reading Society.

Slovenian Film Week: since 2019 we have been partners of the national film education project; the lead partner is the Slovenian Film Centre.

Collection of Scientific Publications on ACE

The National Guidelines for Arts and Cultural Education in Education were followed by an operational document: a guidebook to Arts and Cultural Education – a reference book with examples of good practice in kindergartens, basic and secondary schools (2011, in Slovenian), which includes practical guidelines for integrating all areas of ACE. A collection of guidebooks to arts and cultural education focusing on various ACE fields, a joint initiative by MESS, MC, NEIS and cultural institutions, is being compiled:

  • Guidebook and e-guidebook Igriva arhitektura (Playful Architecture), 2013 (in Slovenian)
  • Guidebook and e-guidebook to animated film for kindergartens and schools Animirajmo!, 2016 (“Let’s Animate”, in Slovenian)
  • Guidebook and e-guidebook Gledališka pismenost. (“Theatre Literacy”, in Slovenian)

In cooperation with other sectors, we have prepared professional materials that promote the inclusion of artistic and cultural content in treating various topics:

  • E-guidebook Skozi umetnost o medosebnih odnosih, 2011 (“On Interpersonal Relationships through Art”, in Slovenian);
  • Guidelines on how to discuss various health issues Zdravje skozi umetnost, 2016 and e-guidebook Skozi umetnost o zdravju, 2016 (Health through Art”; “Focusing on Health through Art”, in Slovenian) and
  • E-guidebook Gozd skozi umetnost in kulturo, 2019 (“Forest through Art and Culture”, in Slovenian).

Other National ACE Projects — MC, MESS and ESF Funds

Since 2009, MESS and MC have been launching calls for national ACE projects, which are provided with national and EU funding. Through these projects, which connect educational institutions, cultural institutions and artists, we support the establishment of open, innovative learning environments and flexible modes of learning. Projects currently under way:

MC in the period between 2016 and 2021:

Prvi prizor (“Scene 1”): theatre as a space for learning symbolic languages (Slovenian National Theatre Maribor)

Gleda(l)išče (“Theatre”, SLOGI – Slovenian Theatre Institute); an important part of the project is the Zlata paličica (Golden Wand) platform

Igrišče za gledališče 2.0 (“Theatre Playground 2.0”, Bunker Institute)

Filmska osnovna šola (“Basic Film School”, Slovenian Art Cinema Association); the Šola filma “Film School” portal forms an important part of the project

Razumevanje filma (“Understanding Film”, Slovenian Cinematheque); the Šola filma “Film School” portal is an important part of the project

Filmski vlak (“Film Train”, Kočevje Youth Culture Centre)

MESS in the period between 2017 and 2022:

Developing communication competences through arts and cultural education – SKUM (University of Primorska, Faculty of Education)


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Related links

A national cross-sectoral project, the Cultural Bazaar brings together and connects educational institutions, cultural institutions, and cultural workers (authors, artists, educators from museums, theatres, libraries, …).

Kulturni bazar, Cankarjev dom

Prešernova cesta 10, 1000 Ljubljana