Arts education policy and practice in the 21st century: Affordances and Constraints.

Year: 2012

Author: Barrett, Margaret

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


There is a growing awareness amongst governments internationally that the Arts play a central role in the health, well-being, and development of individuals and communities. The contributions of arts engagement to cultural, economic, and social sustainability have been documented in a range of projects and reports (see for example, Hesser & Heinemann, 2010). Despite this recognition of the contributions of the arts, the commitment to arts education as a means to build the capacity of individuals and communities to engage with arts practices in meaningful and developmental ways is inconsistent.


In efforts to embed arts education for all in the educational policy and practices across the globe UNESCO has supported a number of initiatives aimed at developing awareness of arts education and its outcomes. In 2006 UNESCO convened the first World Conference on Arts and Education in Lisbon, Portugal. A key outcome of this event was the establishment of the Road Map for Arts Education (UNESCO, 2006), a document that seeks to '...explore the role of Arts Education in meeting the need for creativity and cultural awareness in the 21st century...' (UNESCO, 2006, 3). A further outcome of this event was the establishment of the World Alliance for Arts Education. Initially comprised of the world discipline associations for Drama (IDEA), Music (ISME) and the Visual Arts (InSEA), and subsequently Dance (WDA), the WAAE seeks to ensure communication across the borders of these arts forms and advocate for arts education globally through the conduct of World Arts Education summits. The second UNESCO World Conference on Arts and Education was held in Seoul, Korea in 2010 and resulted in the Seoul Agenda: Goals for the development of Arts Education (UNESCO, 2010). The agenda outlines 3 key goals for arts education enshrining the concepts of accessibility, quality, and social justice.


In this presentation, the international policies outlined above and recent developments in Australian cultural and educational policy, specifically, the Australian Curriculum for the Arts, will be reviewed as a means to identifying the ways in which national and international policy cohere, and the affordances and constraints of such policy developments to the implementation of Arts Education in Australia.