Historically, Fine Arts Academies and Academies of Music in Italy have been considered school institutions, and as such placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Education (MPI). In the 1990s, responsibility for the non-university sector of higher arts and cultural education was shared between MPI (institutions for fine and applied arts, dance, drama and music) and the Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities – MIBAC (institutions and programmes in heritage conservation and restoration, see chapter 5.3). During that decade, Academies and Conservatoires lobbied intensively to be granted university status for two main reasons: a) equivalent institutions in other EU member states already enjoyed university status, which meant that foreign professionals in the artistic sector were formally recognised with higher qualifications than Italian ones, despite having attained the same degree of higher education; b) over time, universities had become “competitors” to Academies and Conservatoires, having established their own courses in the arts and music (e.g. DAMS – Arts, Music and Performing Arts Disciplines).
The long-awaited reform of higher education in the artistic sector (drama, dance and music) finally started to take place in 1999, when the then Ministry for University and Scientific-Technological Research (MURST) issued Law 508/99. In 2001, MPI and MURST were merged into the new Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR), which is currently the main government body responsible for arts and cultural education and training through its DG for Higher Arts, Music and Dance Education (AFAM – Alta Formazione Artistica Musicale e Coreutica; for a list and description of AFAM institutions, see chapter 5.3). A further step in the reform of higher arts education was taken in December 2012, when AFAM courses were at last awarded university status (Financial Stability Law 2012). However, it is widely acknowledged across the sector that Law 508/99 still remains by and large a dead letter. In order to address this stalemate and boost the role of higher arts education in the framework of MIUR’s policies, Minister Giannini presented an eight-point reform package in May 2014. Among the included proposals was the creation of a #Cantiere (#Workinprogress) for the sector’s reforms with the participation of external experts and citizens. This led to the publication of a document entitled “Chiamata alle arti” (“Call to arts”, December 2014, http://www.afam.miur.it/media/34384/chiamata_alle_arti.pdf), identifying key guidelines (internationalisation; autonomy; correlation between evaluation and allocation of resources) to give new impetus to arts education in Academies, Conservatoires and Institutes. A further consultation process and the drafting of a new policy document were announced as a result.
Another government body with responsibilities in the arts and cultural education arena is MIBACT, not only, as mentioned above, through its central institutes for heritage conservation and restoration, but also through its Centre for Museum and Heritage Education Services (established in 1998, its role is to promote wider accessibility of the Italian heritage for a range of different audiences, most notably schools, as well as to act as a coordination centre for the education services of national museums throughout the country; see http://www.sed.beniculturali.it/) and, more importantly, through the DG Education and Research, recently created as a result of the Ministry’s latest reorganisation in 2014 (see chapter 1.2.2). One of the key tasks of the DG is to draft, on a yearly basis, in cooperation with the High Council for Cultural Goods, a National Plan for Cultural Heritage Education to be implemented also with ad hoc agreements with regional and local administrations, universities and non profit organisations. The first of such National Plans (http://www.dger.beniculturali.it/index.php?it/21/news/6/piano-nazionale-per-leducazione-al-patrimonio-culturale) is focused on the creation of a heritage education system addressing some key challenges of the recently adopted Law 107/2015 (called Buona Scuola, i.e. Good School Law, oneof the main reforms of the Renzi government), which explicitlyrefers to the cooperation between schools, museums, archives, libraries and other cultural institutions; particular emphasis is placed on strengthening partnerships between schools and museums in the framework of work-related learning projects (see chapter 5.2).