Cultural Policy and Arts Education

Copyright: Andreas Hartmann

Semi-plenary session at the Kulturdomäne Marienburg.

by Tobias Fink, Vanessa-Isabelle Reinwand-Weiss, Nina Stoffers and Sarah Kuschel

The second semi-plenary session was on the topic of “Cultural Policy and Arts Education”. It was conceived by Tobias Fink, Vanessa-Isabelle Reinwand Weiss, Nina Stoffers and Sarah Kuschel. For the first time at an ICCPR, the session turned the spotlight on the subject of arts education. The link between arts education and cultural policy has only been touched on at previous ICCPRs. The excellent levels of participation and lively discussions demonstrated that, as organisers of the ICPPR, the Department of Cultural Policy made the right move when deciding to make arts education one of the three main focuses of the Department’s work and give it its own semi-plenary session. In two sessions entitled “Art for Art’s Sake?!” and “Partnerships between schools and the professional arts sector. International Perspectives”, experts from different countries presented their various viewpoints as a starting-point for discussion. The invited experts were Sigrid Røyseng, Professor at the Department of Communication and Culture at the Norwegian Business School (Norway), Clive Gray, Associate Professor in Cultural Policy Studies at the University of Warwick (United Kingdom), Michael Wimmer & Anke Schad, educult, Vienna (Austria), Fianne Konings, University of Groningen (Netherlands) and Pat Thomson, University of Nottingham (United Kingdom).

The first part of the session focused on which of the various legitimation strategies should be used to justify arts education. Eckart Liebau identified five strategies at the conclusion of the World Conference on Arts Education, which was held in Seoul in 2010. These were as follows:

  1. Economic arguments in favour of the value of arts education

  2. The value of arts education for creating identity

  3. Arts education as a sociopolitical instrument

  4. The value of arts education for personal development

  5. The development of new forms of artistic expression.

  6. Other legitimation strategies were also discussed, including:

  7. The value of the “side-effects” of arts education (such as on maths performance or motivation at school)

  8. Arts education to preserve or build national identity

  9. Arts education to satisfy people’s need for artistic activity

  10. Arts education as a ritual with the potential to trigger social and personal transformation.

The various legitimation strategies should certainly be examined in more detail, but these discussions posed a fundamental question: are the legitimation strategies really so important or should we instead be asking ourselves more questions about the quality of arts education? Some participants voiced the criticism that it is mainly political decisionmakers who need such legitimation. In most countries, arts education generally plays a very marginal role on the political agenda – indeed, if it plays a role at all. This is why it is necessary to find strong justifications for it. And as researchers and stakeholders, we need to be very clear about the role we play – when, where and based on what political or scientific arguments? The international experts’ contributions and ensuing discussions involving over 100 delegates clearly showed that academic research in the area of cultural policy for arts education is broadly similar across national borders, despite the fact that different countries operate under different sets of circumstances when it comes cultural policy. This argues in favour of more collaboration between researchers from different countries.

In the second part of the semi-plenary session, the discussion revolved around how various European countries are studying the success of funding programmes for arts education, and with what results. Michael Wimmer and Anke Schad presented the findings of a study carried out in conjunction with the Bundesakademie für Kulturelle Bildung Wolfenbüttel on “Pilot projects for funding arts education”. The study involved an examination of the funding practices of the German federal ministry for culture and media (BKM) and the German states of Saxony, Lower Saxony and Baden-Württemberg.

Tobias Fink presented the research that accompanied the federal pilot programme “Cultural agents for creative schools”, which appointed 46 “cultural agents” in 136 schools across 5 German states in order to initiate and assist with joint projects between schools and cultural institutions/artists. Fianne Konings looked at an analytical tool which she and her colleagues in the Netherlands had been using to survey the contributions of cultural institutions in carrying out the school curriculum on cultural education. Unfortunately, Pat Thomson was unable to attend due to illness, but she provided a PowerPoint presentation giving details of a meta-study carried out as part of the UK’s major “Cultural Partnerships” programme (

The ensuing discussion showed that many countries have programmes for funding arts education – particularly for joint projects between the the arts and schools – but there is a general lack of systematic research to accompany them. In Germany alone, over the last decade more than 20 different funding programmes have been run by federal and regional government and through private or charitable initiatives, but to date no systematic comparison has been carried out. Many conference delegates felt there is an urgent need to carry out an international comparison of different programmes and examine areas such as target groups, goals, instruments, duration, funding amounts and evaluation criteria. So the funding of arts education emerged from the ICCPR as a topic that is sorely in need of research – ideally in an international context.


Educult/Bundesakademie für Kulturelle Bildung. 2014. Förderung von Modellprojekten in der Kulturellen Bildung, Wien/Wolfenbüttel.

Liebau, Eckart. 2013. “Research on Arts Education”. In: International Yearbook for Research in Arts Education. Münster: Waxmann. pp. 65-70.