In Soviet times, children’s art education in Armenia was prioritised and considered one of the most advanced in the Soviet area. Hundreds of music and art schools, clubs, and groups provided art education to children. In the 1970s an unprecedented Centre of Children’s Aesthetic Education was founded by J. Agamiryan and H. Igityan. It was unique because of its advanced art education methodologies and the Gallery of Children’s Art, the first of its kind in the world. The Centre and the Gallery still exist in Armenia and carry out the same functions.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union the art education infrastructure survived difficult times and lost many of its constituents. Currently the system of institutions responsible for children’s art education is largely restored throughout the country.
Currently in the sphere of art education there are six state non-profit organisations. Two state non-profit organisations function under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Science – the National Centre of Aesthetics and the Centre on Aesthetic Education and Culture for Children and Youth. The rest of the art educational institutions fall under the jurisdiction of, and are financed by, the communities. In total, there are more than 400 out of school centres of art education. 71 of them are branches of state organisations and 269 are municipal; there are also 34 creativity centres for children and youth, 3 private schools specialising in the arts, and 12 art colleges. Besides, there are a number of initiatives that support art education in the regions such as mobile libraries, mobile museums and a “School Philharmonic Project” that has branches in Gyumri, Kapan, and Yeghegnadzor. During 2007-2009 this project organised more than 160 concerts and lectures for schoolchildren interested in the arts. In 2008, the “Arev” (Sun) programme of book-reading for children, with limited capacities, was launched.
The main bodies responsible for arts education in Armenia are the Ministry of Culture, via the Department of State Programmes, Cultural Cooperation, Education and Science, and the Ministry of Education.
During the past 5 years, the status of institutions providing arts education and additional education was specified. By their transformation to state non-profit organisations, separate regulations were elaborated and the state out-of-school educational institutions were renamed. These transformations are regulated by the Law on Education of RA (1999), Law on Basics of Cultural Legislation (2002), and Statement of RA on Concept of Art Education (2004)
The latest important initiative in this field, on the basis of the Decree of the Ministry of Culture (2007)is to ensure the teaching of 2 062 students of folk musical instruments, funded by the state budget from 2007. The programme was continued in 2009 and the number of students reached 2 443.
The priorities in the field of arts education are as follows:
- to promote the international integration process and formation of cultural dialogue, while preserving the national cultural values;
- to involve socially vulnerable groups and, at the same time, by means of arts education, to prevent people from getting involved in socially vulnerable groups; and
- to introduce new technologies into the system.