There is a specific curriculum of arts education in the formal system of education in the Czech Republic and there also exist various forms of extracurricular arts activities. The methodology also provides room for the inclusion of elective educational subjects and courses that can be integrated into the teaching programme of other school subjects. In current international discussions about arts education curricula, the increasingly prevailing opinion is that students should have active and long-term exposure to and encounters with high-quality art that is balanced by direct experience with every branch of the arts, primarily within the framework of compulsory school attendance. The ideal curriculum from an educational perspective is one that overcomes traditional divisions into individual subjects and the separation of the humanities and the sciences, and reflects an integrated approach to the world in educating students.
Interest-based and informal education is an essential part of the system of continuing education in the CR. It is an integral part of national strategies and documents related to the concept of lifelong learning. Unlike formal education, however, it takes place outside or beyond the framework of curricular education.
In conformity with Act No. 561/2004 Coll. on Preschool, Elementary, Secondary, Higher, Higher Technical and Other Education, interest-based education offers participants interest activities in various areas during their free time. Interest-based education concerns children and students at every level, and is usually offered at educational facilities – children’s and youth homes, centres of extracurricular activities, elementary schools, after-school clubs and centres, etc. They are non-compulsory and organised during free-time and after-school hours.
Informal education relates to all age groups and is offered by a variety of different legal entities: cultural and educational facilities run under bodies of state administration (e.g. museums, galleries, libraries, theatres, culture houses, and cultural and educational centres), NGOs (e.g. civic associations, public benefit organisations, and foundations) and business entities (e.g. joint-stock company, Limited Liability Company).
The vast majority of cultural institutions organise educational courses for the public and nowadays informal education in the arts is becoming a phenomenon by which various arts clubs and associations (non-state non-profit sector) and even cultural institutions (e.g. libraries, museums, culture houses) serve an educational function for the public. Museums and galleries are the furthest along in this area and have proposed adding “museum educator” as a position in the National System of Musuems and this proposal has been approved by the board that oversees the museum sector. There has been a boom in education connected with cultural heritage conservation, thanks in particular to “Enjoying Czech Heritage”, a large-scale project run by the National Heritage Institute. Its aim is to create seven regional education centres that, in cooperation with the education faculties at Charles University in Prague and Masaryk University in Brno, will prepare and implement pilot educational programmes.
The most common and most popular courses are those for children and young people, who are an important target group. Informal arts education, like interest-based learning, applies to every age group and is offered by various legal entities, including businesses. Interest-based and informal arts education is supported through various subsidy programmes of the Ministry of Culture. This form of education receives systematic attention from the MC’s budgetary organisations, in particular the Arts and Theatre Institute, NIPOS, the Moravian Gallery in Brno, the National Gallery, the National Institute of Folk culture, and the Czech Philharmonic.
The Arts and Theatre Institute is engaged in a wide range of activities with an international scope (e.g. international theoretical symposia organised as part of the Prague Quadrennial, programmes for managers in the arts, dramaturges, and artistic directors of festivals and theatres, theatre critics and theorists in the SPACE programme, publishing and consultation work). NIPOS provides as a public cultural service information and consultation in most branches of the amateur arts and in aesthetic activities for children. This service encompasses a broad selection of workshops, seminars, and courses that are organised in or outside the framework of individual national showcases and usually accredited by the MEYS.