|The Arts and Education as an Issue in Cultural and Education Policy|
The relationship between the arts and education is not an easy one. Most colleagues working in the cultural field are used to avoid clashing with the educational sector whenever possible. A few years ago, the artist Rainer Ganahl gave an interpretation of this mutual alienation by saying that ‘the arts would find their traditionally hated counterpart in education and in its various institutions’. That way he intended to point out that ties between art and education by all intents and purposes do exist, if only fairly 'unenlightened' ones, vacillating between ignorance and a kind of love-hate relationship.
At the moment there are more and more indications that the number of actors in the cultural as well as in the educational field willing to bridge this gap between both working areas, is increasing. They are willing to overcome thinking that the rigid division of labour between arts and education, both socio-political brainchildren of a modern age, shall be proudly upheld forever with the consequence to end up trying to assign language and codes almost exclusively to only one respective branch.
The result: Artists and educators do not understand each other. This in turn blocks the view of ‘future horizons and future possibilities’ inherent in both arts and education. Therefore an avant-garde of art educators, art mediators, audience developers and others working at the arts-education-interface at the moment are searching for new language/code combinations, so that questions like the following can be answered: How can truth and beauty, technology and art, economy and politics or art and education be (re-)combined? And what are the appropriate methods to create productive combinations? This does not mean a total collapse of cohesion within the respective fields in the sense of ‘anything goes’ (Paul Feyerabend) but quite the reverse, an inter-disciplinary ‘correction of systematic principles that have become antiquated and thus historically irrational.’
In this context Rolf Schwendtner, an Austrian researcher on deviancy, mentioned in his work ‘Theory of Subculture” as early as 1973 the need for so-called ‘pivot-persons’. Capable of speaking and understanding the languages and codes of different disciplinary and cultural contexts, they can communicate one side‘s intentions to the other side and vice versa, thus functioning as the honest broker.
For me this definition seems a wonderful starting point for Culture Action Europe to act as such an “honest broker” between the arts and the educational world across Europe. This intention can be based on an indispensable interrelation of the arts and society as well as on a conception of art that is devoted to participation and thus points beyond the self-referential claim for autonomy made for the traditional production of works of art.
In consequence the point to be made is to take into account all participants in the collective process of art with regards to their individual sensuousness and physicalness as well as their ability to reflect. The emphasis here should be put on strengthening the sense for possibilities. This is a ‘method of education’ par excellence since the arts create new ways of access to understanding reality by intervening in usualness, thus sharpening the sense for possibilities.
This would not only broaden access to the arts (and by that change the position of the arts in society from the margins in its centre) but make the arts a driving force for a reform of the existing educational systems taking into account that education is not just about academic skills but about comprehensive personal development comprising mind and body, knowing and feeling, acting and reflecting; all characteristics represented by the arts.
by Michael Wimmer, founder and general manager of Educult