Melbourne UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education

The academic group of Arts Education has collaborated with complementary organisations, both from the public and private sector, which has led to clustered networks of specialised personnel with strong shared interests. The Melbourne UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education provides a platform from which research and professional networks will continue to grow, not only within Melbourne, but across Australia and in collaboration with other Arts Observatories within the Asia-Pacific. The Observatory provides avenues for deep engagement and affiliation across this network and an umbrella for classroom teachers, arts educators, artists and researchers to collaboratively explore arts practice.

About us

Vision

The Melbourne UNESCO Arts Education Observatory recognises the pivotal role of the arts in education to foster intercultural dialogue, sustainable development and social cohesion through knowledge-sharing and collaboration. The Observatory contributes to the development of community and identity, challenging outdated ideas and stimulating innovation in a manner that fosters social understanding and tolerance, distinguishing the University, the City of Melbourne, and Australia as global, cultural and educational leaders.

Mission

In an increasingly knowledge-based society, the Melbourne UNESCO Arts Education Observatory bridges the divide between research, community and current practices via the mainstreaming of the arts in formal and informal learning (intellectual, social, emotional, cultural, aesthetic, spiritual) and enabling the seamless flow of information between schools, governments, ministries, NGOs and individuals.

The Observatory supports UNESCO in the facilitation of international knowledge-sharing by generating, collecting and re-packaging relevant, quality research; allowing access to current information, resources and best practices; advocating for the mainstreaming of arts in educational systems in the Asia-Pacific region; and influencing cultural and educational policy development and management.

Goals

  • Facilitate innovative learning and development at all levels of education
  • Contribute to and highlight the critical value of quality tertiary education of generalist teachers, arts educators and artists
  • Develop national and international networks and partnerships to establish and engage with communities of practice
  • Undertake, collect and re-package current research and resources for arts education professionals
  • Advocate for heritage preservation and the development of cultural identity, diversity and innovation through the arts

History

The Melbourne UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education is housed in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education under the Directorship of Professor Susan Wright. Between 2006-2011 it operated as the UNESCO Observatory for Multidisciplinary Research in the Arts, within the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning under the Directorship of Dr Lindy Joubert.

News and events

InSEA Conference July 7 - 11, 2014

The Melbourne Graduate School of Education and the UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education come together as proud supporters of the InSEA 34th World Congress to be held 7 - 11 July, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia.  For further information see Arts Education Engagement.

Arts for Peace Festival - Melbourne

In 2012, UNESCO launched the inaugural International Arts Education Week in Paris. World leaders in arts education advocacy have since, through high profile celebrations, drawn attention to the role that arts education plays in a global agenda of peace and cultural understanding. UNESCO has set three goals to guide the development of arts education:

  1. a) ensure that arts education is an accessible and sustainable component of high quality education, in conception and delivery
  2. b) assure that arts education activities and programs are of a high quality and
  3. c) apply arts education principles and practices to resolving the social and cultural challenges facing today’s world.

The International Arts for Peace Festival (IAPF) builds on the “Peace for All” vision to foster peace awareness and education through the powerful principles and practices of the arts laid out in the UNESCO document, the ‘Seoul Agenda: Goals for the Development of Arts Education (2010). The main festival, held in Hong Kong from May-June, 2014, promoted five kinds of peace; individual; cultural; social; political; and ecological. The event was part of a series of activities celebrating the International Arts for Peace Festival.

The Melbourne Graduate School of Education’s UNESCO Arts Education Observatory also contributed to the UNESCO International Arts Education Week and the International Arts for Peace Festival with a range of activities and events throughout May and June, 2014, four of which are featured below.

In collaboration with the Australian Society of Music Education in Australia (ASME) and the Australian Music Centre (AMC), esteemed music educator Lorraine Milne has developed a resource for secondary school teachers revolving around the music of Peter Sculthorpe and his 16th String Quartet. The work, entitled ‘Peter Sculthorpe: String Quartet No. 16’ was inspired by letters from refugees in Australian detention centres, resonates with the plight of people displaced by war and turmoil around the world. The guide is available through the Australian Music Centre:  http://www.australianmusiccentre.com.au/product/peter-sculthorpe-string-quartet-no-16

Students studying ‘Devising Drama in Communities’ developed a performance piece , facilitated by Dr Dave Kelman, the Artistic Director of the Education Program of Western Edge Youth Arts. The exciting piece of experimental and interactive theatre, called The Autopsy, was performed for the public on May 20. 

The ‘Child+Adult Art Response Project’ was a collaborative undertaking between Melbourne University students and children from a local Melbourne Primary School. The project encouraged participants to generate intercommunity conversations across time and space through the visual arts. One artwork from each child was given to a partner artist at the University who responded using print and/or collage.  The project culminated in a curated exhibition at the children’s school with the Child+Adult art framed and displayed side by side. 

The Melbourne Graduate School of Education’s UNESCO Arts Education Observatory held a Colloquium on June 2 at which each of the projects described above were shared. Presentations were given by Associate Professor Neryl Jeanneret (Music), Dr Dave Kelman (Drama) and Suzanna Zapper (Visual Arts). View footage of Colloquium.

About UNESCO and Arts Education

UNESCO

UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. It is through this dialogue that the world can achieve global visions of sustainable development encompassing the observance of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty, all of which are at the heart of UNESCO's mission and activities.

UNESCO’s mission is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. UNESCO focuses on the following overarching objectives:

  • Attaining quality education for all and lifelong learning
  • Mobilizing science knowledge and policy for sustainable development
  • Addressing emerging social and ethical challenges
  • Fostering cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace
  • Building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication

For more details, please visit UNESCO's main website

Arts Education initiatives

UNESCO’s aims for arts education are by and large contained within two documents, the Road Map for Arts Education and the Seoul Agenda. These policies open the door for member countries to act upon UNESCO’s global call to arts education.

UNESCO Road Map for Arts Education

Based on deliberations during and after the World Conference on Arts Education, which took place from 6 to 9 March 2006 in Lisbon, Portugal, the “Road Map for Arts Education” aims to explore the role of Arts Education in meeting the need for creativity and cultural awareness in the 21st Century, and places emphasis on the strategies required to introduce or promote Arts Education in the learning environment.

Seoul Agenda: Goals for the Development of Arts Education

The Seoul Agenda: Goals for the Development of Arts Education is a major outcome of UNESCO’s Second World Conference on Arts Education held in Seoul, the Republic of Korea, on 25 – 28 May 2010. The Seoul Agenda: Goals for the Development of Arts Education reflects the conviction of the IAC members and the experts participating in the Conference that arts education has an important role to play in the constructive transformation of educational systems

Asia Pacific Action Plan

One of the main recommendations that came out of the "Measuring the Impact of Arts in Education" symposium (Hong Kong, 2004) was that UNESCO act as an advocate for the reform of 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 Adviser for Culture in Asia and the Pacific produced a document titled Asia-Pacific Action Plan” (PDF, 271 KB) which describes a strategy to set up a series of Arts Education Observatories in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Observatories are intended to collect, analyse, repackage and disseminate information about Arts Education and thereby facilitate knowledge sharing within the region. In the long-term these Observatories will be the basis for informed processes of advocacy for mainstreaming the arts and culture in Asian education.

Other observatories

As a result of one of the main recommendations from the "Measuring the Impact of Arts in Education" symposium (Hong Kong, 2004), UNESCO has established a network of 6 Arts in Education Observatories hosted by 6 institutions across the Asia-Pacific region. These are (in chronological order):

  • 2006 – Australia: The University of Melbourne (initially through the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning; currently through the Melbourne School of Graduate Education)

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