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Created By N. Zimmermann

Arts Education is the broad field of educational practices facilitating the understanding of art and culture, making use of specific artistic and cultural methodology (like facilitating drawing, painting, theatre, music, photography, movie skills), or including ideas and methodology from the field of arts and culture in other educational approaches.

Artistic and cultural expression are valuable resources for stimulating creativity and broadening the learners' ability to perceive and express. On a social level cultural activities and products are a mirror of our values and norms, our social diversity, our heritage and visions for the future. Recognizing this role of arts and culture for our lives, UNESCO seeks with the Seoul Agenda to develop a holistic conceptual frame for arts education.[1] It has two main elements.

UNESCO Definition

learning through the arts/culture

Utilizing artistic expressions and cultural resources and practises, contemporary and traditional, as a competency learning tool under an inter-disciplinary perspective.

learning in the arts/culture

Stressing the value of cultural perspectives, multi and inter-cultural, and culturally-sensitive languages through learning processes, as a tool for promoting the idea of cultural diversity.

At the starting point stands here a creative learner, being able to initiate new things and to shape processes and works. Arts Education is supporting learners then with the tools and skills offered through arts and cultural work. The German Federal Association for Cultural Youth Education[2] developed basic quality standards rooted in the idea of competency centered facilitation.

Quality Criteria for Arts Education

Arts and cultural expression as a starting point and frame

Works, processes and methods are instruments for autodidactical learning resulting from aesthetic perception and experience. Perception and creative activity are put into dialogue. They are enriched by reflection. A diversity of forms and styles allows learners to broaden their repertoire for expressing and ideating.

Resource Orientation

Existing strengths and talents of learners are in the centre. The main focus is set on the activation of individual potentials by strengthening the strengths and talents. Topics and subjects are through the learners perceived as interesting and inspiring. There is a connection of the subjects to the social reality of learners. The decisions on the way an educational process takes and what kind of instruments it uses are a result of a participatory negotiation. The individual ways of (youth)cultural expression are appreciated.


Learners are perceived as experts on their educational process and co-create it, including the choice of topics, questions and ways of work. They are not enforced to participate. The processes stimulate learners to take a stand, to discuss their positions in dialogue and learn to involve in group decisionmaking. Learners experience self efficacy and are perceiving their ability to create works in a successful way.

Personal Competency Development

A mix of emotional, cognitive and social learning and a variety of methods and opportunities for expression is involved.

Diversity and Inclusion

Individuality and social diversity are appreciated. The learning process makes use of multiperspectivity. Diverse needs are respected and the learning space is shaped according to these needs of individual learners.

These criteria show that artistic processes are, even if they are collaborative, not necessarily suitable for art education. The idea of artistic mastery and leadership sometimes conflicts with the ideal of empowerment as a tendencially open process. A strong result or product orientation can conflict with needs orientation. The role of a curator, instructor, artistic advisisor, director or dirigent needs to be completed through the pedagogical attitude of a facilitator. The process design of educational arts projects needs to include space for group experience and reflection, for individual learning curves and for cooperative learning.


  1. UNESCO: Seoul Agenda: Goals for the Development of Arts Education
  2. Bundesvereinigung Kulturelle Jugendbildung: Arbeitspapier „Aufwachsen mit Kunst, Kultur und Spiel. Qualitätsmerkmale für die Kulturelle Bildung


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N. Zimmermann, E. Leondieva, M. Gawinek-Dagargulia


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