5. Arts and cultural education
Last update: September, 2019
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.
Last update: September, 2019
The curricula and requirements are set by the regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers. At primary school level, both visual art and music lessons are included in the curriculum. It also includes development of creative skills. There are two music lessons per week until 7th grade and one music lesson per week after. Until 5th grade, there are two visual arts lessons per week and 1 lesson per week after.
At secondary school level, a pupil can choose between lessons in visual arts or music and both subjects are mainly directed at theoretical knowledge. There has been a discussion between the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education and Science about including more art and culture subjects in the curricula (e.g. obligatory singing in choir), however, without major success.
Currently, a major reform of the curriculum (“School 2030”) aims to implement inclusive education approach and to develop competency-based curriculum. It is planned to launch the new system on primary education level during 2019/2020 and to continue with reforms on elementary and secondary levels during 2020/2021.
“Latvian School Bag”, an initiative of the Ministry of Culture, started in September 2018. The system provides the opportunity for pupils to experience a variety of activities and events of historical heritage, professional art and culture within the educational framework while access is guaranteed by the state.
The conceptual framework of the project is bases on four pillars: 1) promoting citizenship, a sense of belonging to the state and national identity; 2) improving quality of education in the 21st century; 3) raise cultural awareness and expression competence; and 4) decreasing the social inequalities.
Implementation includes visiting (thereby providing access to) cultural events and processes, inviting artists, creative professionals etc. to schools, promoting cooperation among education and culture specialists and developing local involvement and ownership. Funding of the State Culture Capital Foundation for arts institutions to develop new cultural offer has been available from 2017 onwards. The State transfers EUR 14 to municipalities for each pupil per school year. The schools decide where to go and how to spend the available budget.
Last update: September, 2019
Higher education is available at 19 higher education establishments: 12 state-founded and 7 private universities in the fields of culture and creative industries (design, art, audiovisual media, architecture, music, culture, dance, art pedagogy, art therapy and cultural management). The following higher education establishments are under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture: Latvian Academy of
Culture, Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music, Latvian Academy of Art and the Latvian Culture College. In 2011, the Latvian Culture College changed its legal status and is now incorporated in the Latvian Academy of Culture, aiming to integrate and coordinate the academic curricula of both institutions in the future.
Following state independence in 1990, a number of changes took place in the organisation and curricula of art schools and universities – e.g. new programmes on the history of culture, traditional culture and folklore, theatre science, theatre and film directors, arts management, museology, etc. have been developed.
Last update: September, 2019
See chapter 5.1 about institutions involved in out-of-school arts and cultural education.
A network of municipal cultural centres takes an active part in organising out-of-school activities (556 cultural centres in 2018, according to the data of Central Statistical Bureau). It is also a place where rehearsals and concerts often take place. The most significant out-of-school activities are choirs and folk-dance groups, as these are included in the Latvian Youth School and Dance Celebration that takes place every fifth year in Riga. The best choirs, dance groups, folk ensembles etc. are selected to take part in this event. In 2015, 38 000 children took part in the celebration.
There is an established cultural and artistic offer for children and youth: theatres, museums and concert organisations offer special programs, there is a variety of reading promotion activities, the joint project of the National Film Centre and the National Centre for Education "Film School" helps to include Latvian films in the education process and the Cultural Canon calls to explore the cultural and art events, personalities and their achievements. The programme “Latvian School Bag” (see chapter 5.2) has helped to develop new projects for the youth in cultural institutions (with the support of the State Culture Capital Foundation).
Last update: September, 2019
See chapter 5.1 for an institutional overview of vocational and professional training in Latvia.
The vocational orientation level of cultural education (on elementary education level) is geographically the most accessible from all levels of arts and culture education. Almost every municipality has one or more arts and culture education institutions. Altogether, in 2018 there were 210 locations on which arts and culture education was provided (159 vocational orientation education institutions and their branches). A network of music and visual art schools (and a few dance schools) forms the first level in arts and culture education pyramid in Latvia. These schools are co-financed by municipalities (for the most part), the state (paying salaries for teachers) and parents of pupils.
Vocational secondary education
in arts and culture is available in 13 municipalities and is provided
by 24 education institutions. Three of these schools are established by municipalities, ten by the Ministry
of Culture, nine by the Ministry of Education and two are private establishments. The role of the
Ministry of Culture is to provide a continuity in vocational arts and culture education, which leads to a third level after secondary education – higher art education institutions that provide education to professional musicians, dancers, visual artists etc.
One of the priorities set by the cultural policy guidelines Creative Latvia 2014-2020 is to develop long- life learning and cultural education that responds to the needs of employers. The planning document suggests reorganising the existing cultural education system on secondary level, consolidating schools and establishing eight professional cultural education centres of competence. Funding of EU Structural funds will be invested in these centres and the process of reorganisation started in 2015.
Commissioned by the Latvian National Centre for Culture two comprehensive studies on vocational education in Latvia were carried out in 2017-2018. Both projects together can be considered the most extensive and in-depth account of vocational arts and culture education in Latvia.
Key conclusions of the first phase project:
- Labour market of cultural and creative industries is fragmented; it is composed of diverse subsectors that differ in terms of scope, product type, as well as labour and capital intensity.
- State and municipal institutions are key employers only in some of these subsectors.
- Individual initiative plays an important role in cultural and creative industries labour market; professionals can produce new creative products that in turn might open up new markets, create jobs, and even result in whole new fields of expertise, later to become a formally recognised occupation.
- Most professionals are involved in more than one subsector, and may be active on both local and international, levels.
- It is a common practice in many subsectors to combine various forms of employment in multiple local, national, and international legal entities, but the current official data-gathering and classification system does not provide enough information to properly assess the scope of the use of this model of employment.
- Arts and culture education system can prepare specialists, but it takes an employment offer (including the salary level) commensurate with the expertise of graduates for them to meet the needs of employers.
- These peculiarities of cultural and creative industries labour market makes it impossible to utilise forecasting approaches used in other more traditional sectors of economy.
The second research project “Arts and Culture Education in Latvia: Accessibility, Demand, Quality” builds on these important findings. It analyses three levels of arts and cultural education system – vocational orientation, vocational secondary, and the higher. The study aims to contribute to the further development of arts and culture education programmes and to serve as a basis for planning the state budget allocations for these, in line with labour market demands and culture development tendencies.
The introductory section of the report specifies the definition of arts and culture education in Latvian national legislation, describes the legal framework of this field, its institutional system and funding structure. The report is structured according to three levels of arts and culture education system. Five themes are addressed in analysis of each level – accessibility, demand, continuity, quality, and relatedness to the labour market. This is a novel and until now unpractised way to analyse arts and culture education in Latvia. The report covers data on those state accredited institutions of arts and culture education that receive funding from or have been established by the Ministry of Culture of Latvia.
Both studies are available in Latvian:
“On implementation of vocational orientation, vocational secondary and higher education programs of art and culture education and on correspondence of the number of specialists to the needs of cultural and creative industries sector” (Latvian Academy of Culture, 2017). “Arts and Culture Education in Latvia: Accessibility, Demand, Quality” (The Laboratory of Strategies and Analytical Studies, Ltd, 2018).