Arts and cultural education at school addresses three objectives:
- allows all pupils to constitute a rich and coherent personal culture throughout their school curriculum;
- develops and strengthen their artistic practice; and
- allows pupils to meet artists and see artworks, and to attend cultural institutions.
Arts and cultural education is par excellence the domain of cooperation between the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education. Since the 1970s many schemes and plans were implemented to strengthen arts and cultural education during school and out-of-school, to develop artistic and cultural professional training as well as the educational mission of the cultural establishments. In 2000, the ministers of Culture and of Education launched a five-year plan for the development of arts and culture at school, called the Lang-Tasca Plan from the names of the ministers of Culture and Education. In 2005 this policy was revived, with in particular the installation of a High Council of the Arts and Cultural Education (Haut Conseil de l’éducation artistique et culturelle). In 2007 the authorities installed the pôles de ressources pour l’éducation artistique et culturelle (PRÉAC), that is poles of resources for the arts and cultural education. These bodies articulate their action around two dimensions:
- territorial dimension: each body coordinates the action of the stakeholders of arts and cultural education at regional level (regional centres of educational documentation, schools of education, cultural institutions, etc.); and
- thematic dimension: each body is specialised in a specific artistic and cultural domain (theatre, music, photo, heritage, archaeology, etc.).
In 2008, history of art was added to the compulsory curricula from primary school to high school. In 2012, the Minister of Culture Aurélie Filippetti launched a national consultation on arts and cultural education that resulted in the report Bouët-Desplechin Pour un accès de tous les jeunes à l’art et à la culture : http://www.culturecommunication.gouv.fr/content/download/60251/463625/version/2/file/Consultation+nationale+EAC.pdf ). The 26 proposals from this report have several objectives:
- Reinforce territorial governance and set up efficient operational instruments for territorial policies
- Update the doctrine of arts and cultural education
- Give more initiative and responsibility to stakeholders and users: youth, teachers, parents and artists
- Foster the professional training of the main stakeholders
- Promote universities as cultural infrastructures
- Create spaces for exchange between the stakeholders of arts and cultural education
Since 2014, a reform of the national school time organisation introduced more extracurricular activities, including cultural activities.
Arts education at school is the responsibility of the Minister of Education, which supervises art teaching and schemes. The out-of-school activities are mainly supervised by the territorial authorities, which cooperate to animate and support the arts academies and schools (music, dance, theatre), with the help of the State services (expertise and educational inspection, interventions of professionals and artists, etc.)
In the regions and départements, local schemes for arts and cultural education assess resources and organise the cooperation between the services of the Ministries of Culture (Regional Directorates) and Education (Local Education Authorities), and the territorial authorities (municipalities, départements, regions).