The responsibility for arts and cultural education is shared between the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Culture.
The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for the development and coordination of the implementation of education, research, sports and state language policies. It is also responsible for youth policy.
The Ministry of Education and Science develops education and youth policies and sets out education standards. It is responsible for the curriculum at general schools, which includes lessons in visual arts and music. Currently, a major reform of the curriculum (“School 2030”) aims to implement inclusive education approach and to develop competency-based curriculum.
The National Centre for Education is a public administration institution directly subordinated to the Minister of Education and Science. Apart from its main functions aimed at curriculum development, it has two arts and culture education related tasks:
- to coordinate the interest-related education system and implement support activities for development of learners’ personalities and talents;
- to organise the Latvian School Youth Song and Dance Celebration.
Interest related education is provided by various operators, usually by Children and Youth Centres, general schools and vocational schools (for the most part they are municipal institutions).
The Ministry of Education and Science supervises education institutions on all levels. These institutions (e.g. vocational schools and universities) also provide some programmes in the field of arts and culture.
The Ministry of Culture is responsible for art and cultural heritage education in Latvia. Since 2011, the state agency Latvian National Centre for Culture is responsible for education policy in culture and the cultural industries.
Latvia has a well-developed vocational cultural education system with visual art, music and dance schools on elementary school level, and design, art, music and dance schools on secondary level. Reorganisation of these schools has been subject to major debate during the last decade. Students may continue their artistic education on higher education level in one of three institutions subordinate to the Ministry of Culture: Latvian Academy of Culture, Art Academy of Latvia or Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music. This three level education system provides education for professional artists, musicians, dancers, cultural operators and teachers.
Important actors are also municipal cultural centres taking part in organising amateur art activities, mainly linked to the development of the tradition of the Song and Dance Celebration.
As part of The Cultural Policy Guidelines 2014-2020 “Creative Latvia” there is The Strategy for Culture Education 2014-2020. It addresses the vocational cultural education system on elementary and secondary school level, as well as artistic education on higher education level.
The pilot project of the programme “Latvian School Bag” initiated by the Ministry of Culture took place in eight schools from three municipalities in different regions of Latvia during September – December 2016. In November – December 2017, the pilot project took place in three other municipalities. In September 2018, the project started officially in all education establishments across the country, being a gift to the Latvian society in centenary of the state of Latvia. (See chapter 5.2 for more information.)
The budget for cultural education was cut significantly during the economic crises. In comparison to the year 2008, state subsidies for cultural education in 2011 have been reduced by about 40%.
Notwithstanding the sharp reduction in public funding, the subsidies for cultural education still make up a significant share in the budget of the Ministry of Culture (about one third of the total budget of the Ministry). The majority of subsidies go to the vocational cultural education schools, while about 20% is used for higher education.