The Finnish system of basic education in the arts offers extracurricular arts education primarily to children and young people. It is provided in music institutes, art schools for children and youth, dance institutes, arts and crafts schools, circus schools and in many other institutes maintained by local authorities or municipal consortia, registered associations, foundations or private businesses. The network of art education institutes in Finland comprises 88 music institutes and 41 schools in the other arts.
The 1992 Act on Basic Arts Education united private and municipal art and music schools into the system of general arts education, which financially became a part of the formula-based state / municipality subsidy system (“vos”). This attracted municipalities to organise more systematic extracurricular arts education, that is, extensive supply of art courses outside the regular school curricula. Basic arts education curricula cover the following art fields: architecture, audiovisual arts, visual art, crafts, music, literary art, circus art, dance and theatre. The lion’s share of public funding for the new system of basic arts education has gone, however, to music education, music schools and conservatories. The system of the basic arts education was assessed in 2012 and according to the report the system would need dedicated development program. Currently the system in not accessible to all because of the great regional differences in the availability of art schools and of tuition in different art forms. Financial basis is varied, and there should be curricula development and co-operation between schools in local and national levels. According to the report there are (in 2012) about 135 000 students in the arts education system. Currently the majority (80%) of basic arts education students are girls.
The 2015– government (PM Juha Sipilä) has named the access to art and culture, including access to basic out-of school arts education as one of its main strategic goals (so called key project) for cultural policy. For a description of the government project, see chapter 2.1.
The basic education in the arts is goal-oriented, progressing from one level to other. It teaches children skills in self-expression and also provides capabilities needed for vocational, polytechnic and university education in their chosen art form. Participation is voluntary, and the education providers may charge moderate fees. The basic education in the arts may also be morning and afternoon activities for schoolchildren.
The instruction follows curricula devised by the provider on the basis of core curricula issued by the National Board of Education. The national core syllabi is provided for the following field of art:
- literary arts
- performing arts (circus and theatre)
- visual arts (architecture, audiovisual art, pictorial art, and arts and crafts)
A local authority providing basic education in the arts receives Government transfers based on the number of inhabitants. Further, public and private education providers may receive Government grants based on the confirmed number of lesson hours given. Only part of the art institutes providing basic education in the arts receive government transfers
In addition to the system of basic education in the arts, some Finnish cultural and art institutions have developed experimental arts education programmes of their own. Good examples are the educational programmes of the National Art Gallery and the National Opera designed for school children.