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Closing Session of the World Conference on Arts Education

Building Creative Capacities for the 21st Century

June 27, 200727 June 2007

Arts Education

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In March 2006, UNESCO organized a World Conference on Arts Education entitled Building Creative Competencies for the 21st Century. The themes discussed at the conference related to advocacy, implementation of arts education, the social, cultural and economic impacts of arts education, teacher training, pedagogical methods, and partnerships in implementing arts education programs.

As noted in opening remarks by Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO: “creativity, imagination and the ability to adapt – competencies which are developed through arts education – are as important as the technological and scientific skills required to solve them.”

For Sir Ken Robinson, Senior Advisor to the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles, “Three core objectives for education should be kept in mind if we want to address the main issues of today’s world: ways of living together, cultivating self-identity, and fostering mutual understanding. For these three objectives, personal capability, confidence and creativity will be key factors.”

Some ideas from a discussion of the best practices of UNESCO member states include:

  • the arts have an important contributing role in inter-cultural communication;
  • students should be at the centre of all policies on arts education, but such policies should also include the parents;
  • the quality of arts education should not be based solely on artistic and technical merit, but also on participation and social relevance;
  • contextualized learning should be built around the needs of the learner. This is especially relevant for access to arts education for marginalized or disadvantaged groups.
  • teacher training is a crucial issue. The lack of qualified teachers seems to be at the core of many problems in arts education.
  • cooperation and partnership, especially between ministries of education and culture, are essential.

A variety of other resources related to the conference are available at

A National Arts and Learning Symposium was held in Ottawa in May, 2007. Planned as a follow-up to the UNESCO World Conference on Arts Education, the symposium had the twin goals of building creative capacity in Canadian arts and learning and strengthening national bridges between interested stakeholders.

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