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Key Milestones in Arts Education

"It's not easy, but fun." © Ariunaa/ACM


In response to the International Appeal in 1999, the UNESCO Division of Arts and Creativity initiated and supported six meetings worldwide on Arts Education. The aim of these pedagogical conferences was to strengthen Arts Education curricula and to create the conditions for the integration of Arts Education programmes into national education systems. 

The International Appeal also prompted the establishment of an international network of experts and practitioners – Links to Education and Art (LEA) International. The web-based portal ( exists to facilitate networking and contact between art education specialists worldwide. All of the main outcomes of the meetings and follow-up activities can be accessed on this site.

The six meetings on arts education were held between 2000 and 2004 in six regions: Africa, Latin America & the Caribbean, the Arab States, Europe, the Pacific and Asia.  

Asia-Pacific Response

In support of global efforts to bring the arts and culture into education, the Office of the UNESCO Regional Advisor for Culture in Asia and the Pacific convened two Arts Education symposia in the Asia region. 

The meeting for the Pacific region was held in Fiji in 2002, and focused on the promotion of arts in education as a means of safeguarding culture and heritage while enabling creative adaptation to new global realities. The final report is available, along with reports from the other regional meetings, on the LEA website and in the Resources section of this website.

In January 2004 the Office of the UNESCO Regional Advisor for Culture in Asia and the Pacific convened the Asia regional symposium "Measuring the Impact of Arts Education", in Hong Kong. This meeting focused on the instrumental use of arts in education.  

Seeking to supplement the traditional “arts for the arts sake” approach, the Asia meeting promoted the Arts-in-Education (AiE) approach – which gives the arts a much expanded role in education. 

The Hong Kong meeting focused on the promotion of the instrumental role of the arts in education by exploring the potential of the arts to:

  • Contribute to children’s development and learning achievement.
  • Improve the quality of education by tapping into locally-available (cultural) resources to introduce local issues and realities into the educational system.
  • Increase creativity and innovation, and contribute to the safeguarding of cultural diversity.

One of the main recommendations of the Hong Kong meeting was that UNESCO act as an advocate for the reform of existing educational systems by establishing a region-wide network of clearinghouses, or “Observatories,” at selected institutions throughout the region.

Following this recommendation, the Office of the UNESCO Regional Advisor for Culture in Asia and the Pacific prepared a document titled "Asia-Pacific Action Plan" (PDF, 421KB). This document describes the strategy for establishing a number of Arts Education Observatories in the Asia-Pacific region. The Observatories are intended to carry out research and information dissemination which will support advocacy processes and influence policy making on Arts Education.

The "Transmissions and Transformations: Learning through the Arts in Asia" symposium (New Delhi, 21-24 March, 2005) took forward the agenda of the Hong Kong meeting. The meeting explored ways in which arts can be better integrated within formal and informal educational systems in Asia and discussed the activities, principles and procedures of the proposed Arts in Asian Education Observatories. 

Educating for Creativity: Bringing the Arts and Culture into Asian Education was the publication documenting the regional symposia held in Hong Kong (2004) and New Delhi (2005).

First World Conference on Arts Education, November 2005

The "World Conference on Arts Education: Building Creative Capacities for the 21st Century” was convened between 6 and 9 March, 2006, by UNESCO and the Government of Portugal, in collaboration with a number of non-governmental arts education organizations.

This Conference was the culmination of a series of meetings held worldwide between 2002 and 2006. It brought together representatives of Ministries of Education and Culture, as well as arts educators, artists and experts in the arts and culture from around the world to discuss the future of Arts Education. The World Conference was a dynamic forum for discussion and established a strong basis for the exchange of ideas, practice and knowledge in the field of Arts Education. A key outcome of the conference was a draft document titled the “Road Map for Arts Education”. 

This document is designed to promote a common understanding among all stakeholders of the importance of Arts Education and its essential role in improving the quality of education. The "Road Map for Arts Education" is meant to serve as an evolving reference document which outlines concrete changes and steps required to develop more strategic planning for implementing Arts Education in educational settings (formal and non-formal) and to establish a solid framework for future decisions and actions in this field.

Second World Conference on Arts Education, May 2010

The Second World Conference on Arts Education (Seoul, May 2010) built on the work of the successful First World Conference. As well as reinforcing the many dimensions discussed at the first Conference, it enlarged the scope to notably include the socio-cultural dimensions of arts education, embrace the diversity of learning environments and reinforce the role of arts education in social cohesion and cultural diversity.

Gathering more than 650 international experts from over 95 UNESCO Member States, the Conference was heralded as a success by participants and organizers alike.

The main outcome of the Conference was the Seoul Agenda: Goals for the Development of Arts Education. The Seoul Agenda calls upon UNESCO Member States, civil society, professional organizations and communities to recognize its governing goals, to employ the proposed strategies, and to implement the action items in a concerted effort to realize the full potential of high quality arts education to positively renew educational systems, to achieve crucial social and cultural objectives, and ultimately to benefit children, youth and life-long learners of all ages.