A debate on programmes and models of arts education began after 2000 within the Ministry of Education and was initiated by the University of Arts, Belgrade. Until now, arts education has been integrated in the curricula of primary and secondary schools only for a few disciplines, namely, literature, music, and fine arts. There are no drama, film or media literacy courses and, during the last ten years, workshops as well as extracurricular activities have disappeared from a great number of schools. The Law on Education had the intention to introduce changes to reverse this trend, which would have an impact on students entering primary and secondary school in autumn 2003, but it did not become operational.
However, since 2007 the National Council on Education has worked on creating a new national educational platform, which defines concepts and priorities for further work on strategy. Several public debates were organised within this framework, relevant to the inclusion of artistic education in primary and secondary schools. Emphasis was specifically given to drama education, which still is lacking in the national curricula. This document: Guidelines for development and improvement of the quality of pre-school, primary and secondary education in Serbia, was approved by National Council in February 2010, and work on strategy development started.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is in charge of arts and cultural education. Arts education is obligatory for all primary school children. However, most of the responsibility regarding the content and the quality of such classes lies with the teachers themselves. Some of them invite artists, take children to visit museums, galleries, theatres and the opera. However, they face many financial and organizational issues.
Cultural institutions also play a role in artistic education, since there is a long tradition of cultural visits with children. Recently, several research and advocacy projects aimed at improving this collaboration. Some institutions have special departments (mostly museums and galleries) devoted to working with children. Gallery of Matica srpska, together with a private company, in Novi Sad equipped a special room for children’s workshops – the first of its kind in Serbia. The Museum of Vojvodina from Novi Sad has published a guidebook for teachers, showing the possible inclusion of museum visits in the annual curriculum of school across many courses. However, most cultural institutions and schools (especially in smaller communities) are still struggling with this cooperation. Research has shown that there are problems with communication in the relation between schools and cultural institutions, that programmes are not synchronized and that access to children is hard, especially transport for remote schools (Tomka, Matić, 2017).
The Museum Association, Foundation Point (devoted to increasing children participation in culture) and the NGO Baza Art have organized special conferences dealing with the cooperation between schools and museums or theatres in 2017 and 2018. These conferences showed that there is a lack of priority, will and clear strategy of the Government in providing quality arts education for children and that most of the initiatives and efforts come from individual artists and teachers and their associations. It is interesting to note that the position of the Ministry of Culture is that it is not interested in arts education as long as it is not educating professional artists. That shows a clear lack of conscience when it come systemic efforts in audience development.