The out-of-school arts and cultural education is mainly conducted within the framework of public academies (conservatoires) that are subsidised by territorial authorities, in partnership with the State departments, mainly the Ministry of Culture, which is in charge of the educational supervision of these establishments. The conservatoires run music courses, while many also run courses in dance and drama. The status of these academies can be diverse. Since the law of decentralisation of 1 August 2004, the State wished to harmonise the classification of the different establishments, according to their audiences and their activities. In 2013 there are:
- 298 municipal or intermunicipal academies (conservatoires à rayonnement communal / intercommunal, CRC or CRI);
- 110 county academies (conservatoires à rayonnement départemental, CRD); and
- 43 regional academies (conservatoires à rayonnement régional CRR).
Curricula are organised in three cycles that are validated by final exams, which represent 8 to 14 years of studies:
- the first two cycles, in CRC, CRD, or CRR, constitute the phases of initiation and development;
- third cycles, in CRD or CRR, can be directed either to the continuation of amateur practice, or towards the preparation of diplomas for professional qualifications, opening the way to artistic higher education; and
- an early-learning / discovery cycle, for the youngest, is also sometimes available.
In 2008-2009, the average enrolment was 1 162 pupils per establishment:
- all CRRs have more than 1 000 pupils; and
- most of the CRDs have between 500 and 1 500 pupils.
Music is the most popular discipline chosen by pupils (86%), nevertheless dance and dramatic art are progressing in a significant way (respectively +7% and +20% since the previous survey in 2006-2007). More than 9 000 professors, in all disciplines, teach in these classified establishments. Territorial authorities contribute to 79% of their financing.
Other training (visual arts, writing, broadcasting, etc.) is less significant. There are however many artistic schools and academies in various domains, some financed by public authorities and some private: associative schools, private schools (like for example the Yamaha schools), religious music schools, visual art schools, jazz schools… The French Federation of music, choreography and theatre education (Fédération française de l’enseignement musical, chorégraphique et théâtral), gathers for example more than 1 200 academies of music, dance, theatre and visual art, with approximately 21 000 professors and 410 000 pupils. The National Federation of jazz and contemporary music schools (Fédération nationale des écoles d’influence jazz et des musiques actuelles) gathers more than 35 training institutions, with more than 9 000 pupils, trainees or students and more than 600 artists-teachers.