5. Arts and cultural education
Last update: May, 2016
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).
Last update: May, 2016
"Art and image" was established as a compulsory school discipline in 2003, replacing "Image education" in primary schools, and "Arts education" in lower secondary schools.
As for upper secondary education, there are two main categories of schools: licei (like a British grammar school), which are more academic in nature, and istituti (including Art Institutes, a particular form of professional institute which offers an education focused on art and drawing and leads to an arts qualification – Art Teacher diploma), which are essentially vocational schools. A reform law issued in 2008 by the then centre-right coalition (Law 133/2008, named "Riforma Gelmini" after the Education Minister, introduced major changes in the education system also as far as arts and cultural education are concerned. The main innovation in this field was the creation of a new High School specifically devoted to Music and Dance disciplines (liceo musicale e coreutico), while Fine Arts High Schools (licei artistici) were reorganised into 6 specialised courses (indirizzi): visual arts; architecture and environment; audiovisual and multimedia; design; graphics; set and stage design.
Among other things, the law caused much controversy due to the reduction of art history teaching hours, most notably in the Classical and Fine Arts High Schools. Although Renzi's government promised to bolster the teaching of art history once again, thereby implicitly recognising the existing flaws in school curricula, the Buona Scuola Law did not introduce significant changes in the discipline's declining status. The increased importance of work-related learning projects for the last three years of all programmes of study, on the other hand, may lead to a stronger connection between schools and cultural institutions (see chapter 5.1).
Outside the school curriculum, in 1998 the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of the Heritage have signed an agreement to jointly promote a better knowledge and appreciation of the heritage through a close collaboration "on the ground" between individual school institutes and the local soprintendenze. This collaboration, which has been particularly fruitful in the past, was endangered by the "Gelmini reform", which introduced in primary schools a single class teacher to replace the former system of three teachers rotating between two classes, making it far more difficult for classes to take part in out-of-school heritage / museum education projects.
However, in May 2014 MIBACT and MIUR signed a new agreement, entitled "Creating opportunities for a knowledge society by developing new synergies between education and culture" (http://www.istruzione.it/allegati/2014/protocolloMIUR_MIBACT280514.pdf).; art. 3 and 4 evoke the possibility for Regional School Departments, the education services of museums and individual school institutes to cooperate by signing agreements for the training, innovation and experimentation of curricula. The protocol, in fact, recognises the knowledge and understanding of cultural heritage as important factors for the education of young people, "by promoting a mature and informed relationship with one's own territory and cultural resources".
Heritage education, through a close partnership between schools and museums, is also the focus of a number of initiatives / programmes promoted by regional and local administrations (see for example the "Educard" project, run since 2001 by Regione Veneto to promote a closer cooperation between teachers and museum professionals through joint training programmes, or the "Edumusei" and "Museiscuol@" portals, respectively promoted by Regione Toscana and the City of Turin: http://www.edumusei.it, http://www.comune.torino.it/museiscuola).
As far as contemporary art education is concerned, it is worth mentioning the programme Venice "Biennale Educational", which promotes activities such as guided tours, themed visits, workshops (creative, multimedia, multidisciplinary), open days for teachers etc., particularly aimed at "fostering a growing interest in schools for creative activity" (see http://www.labiennale.org/en/educational). The programme is also targeted to families, scholars, art lovers, universities and companies.
Agreements pertaining to the promotion of education in the performing arts (particularly theatre and cinema) have also been in place for quite a long time between the Ministry for Education and AGIS (Italian General Association for the Performing Arts), the latter representing professional associations of producers and distributors in the performing arts field.
Last update: May, 2016
The higher arts education system in Italy is organised as follows:
a) Higher education outside universities but ranking at university level:
The AFAM system (see chapter 5.1) is made up of the following institutions:
- Academies of Fine Arts;
- Legally recognised Fine Arts Academies;
- National Academy of Drama;
- Higher Institutes for Arts Industries;
- Academies of Music; and
- Recognised Music Institutes.
According to Law 508/1999 (see also chapter 5.1), music and dance education are provided by Higher Institutes for Music and Dance Studies (ISSMCs), including all Academies of Music / Conservatoires (MC), recognised Music Institutes (IMPs) and the National Dance Academy (AND), while education in visual arts, design and drama is offered by the Academies of Fine Arts (ABA), Higher Institutes for Arts Industries (ISIAs) and the National Academy of Drama (ANAD).
AFAM institutions are endowed with full autonomy (statutory, scientific, teaching, managerial, financial), although they must refer to MIUR (Ministry of Education, University and Research) for all matters related to planning, orientation and coordination (Art. 2, paragraph 3 of Law 508/99). AFAM institutions may establish programmes at different levels, from the basic to the advanced and specialised, and promote research in the arts and music. Admission is normally subject to an entrance examination. Final qualifications have been defined by law as equivalent to university degrees, so that their holders may participate in public competitions and / or pursue more advanced studies both within the university and the non-university sectors of higher education.
The full implementation of the reform will take some years, since the reorganisation of curricula is still in an experimental phase. In 2004-2005, all AFAM institutions have established 1st cycle and 2nd cycle programmes (bachelor-level and master-level, respectively) which have been approved by MIUR.
In addition to AFAM institutions, the higher arts education system includes institutions such as:
- the National Music Academy (ANM di Santa Cecilia), which offers post-graduate programmes at advanced level for qualified musicians; and
- the National School of Cinema, under the supervision of MIBACT ( chapter 1.3.1), which offers training in film-making for actors and directors; admission is by a highly selective national competition which is also open to foreign candidates.
Schools for archivists and experts in Palaeography and Diplomatics are state institutions of university ranking that also fall under the supervision of MIBACT. They are established at the state archives in several cities. Programmes last for two years and lead to the award of a Diploma in Archival Studies, Palaeography and Diplomatics.
b) Non-university higher education:
Heritage conservation and restoration are taught at the central institutes / schools for the cultural heritage which are under the responsibility of MIBACT (e.g. Higher Institute for Conservation and Restoration, Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, Central Institute for Books and Archives Conservation and Restoration). Admission is normally open to applicants who have previous knowledge and experience in the chosen field. Courses usually last between 3 and 4 years. Short programmes are also available; they consist of further specialisation for professionals who are already experienced in a given field.
Regional education and training (Formazione Professionale Regionale – FPR) includes a variety of programmes at post-secondary level, comprising Applied Arts (Design, Graphics), Cinema, Dance, Fashion, Media and Communication, Landscape Architecture, Music, Theatre, etc. All the FPR programmes are offered by schools / institutes which have been directly established either by the Regions, Provinces, Municipalities or by non-public bodies, and have subsequently obtained legal recognition of all or some of their courses from the relevant offices of the above mentioned local authorities.
Last update: May, 2016
For out-of-school heritage education see chapter 5.1 and chapter 5.2.
Please find the available information on this subject in 5.3.