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EACEA National Policies Platform


8. Creativity and Culture

8.5 Developing cultural and creative competences

Last update: 28 November 2023

Acquiring cultural and creative competences through education and training

Formal education in regular education

Formal compulsory education

From 1 September 2019, new educational objectives for secondary education are gradually introduced. The Flemish Government approved on 13 July 2018 the new attainment targets for the first grade of secondary education (decreet betreffende de onderwijsdoelen voor de eerste graad van het secundair onderwijs). The attainment targets for upper secondary education will be implemented on 1 September 2021 in the second grade of secondary education and on 1 September 2023 in the third grade.

The new attainment targets are developed in function of 16 key competences. One of these 16 key competences is cultural awareness and cultural expression. The 10 final objectives related to cultural awareness and cultural expression for the first grade of secondary education are:

  • The pupils recognize the importance of perceived artistic and cultural expressions for themselves and their own environment. (transversal - attitudinal)
  • Based on observations of artistic and cultural expressions pupils distinguish the sensory perceptible, the intentions and the subject matter of it. (transversal)
  • The pupils describe the interaction between the perceptually perceptible, the intentions and the subject of art and cultural expressions on the basis of criteria that have been provided. (transversal)
  • The pupils relate art and culture expressions to the context in which they occur. (transversal)
  • The pupils express their thoughts and feelings when observing art and cultural expressions. (transversal)
  • The pupils use their own expressive experience to express their appreciation for art and cultural expressions. (transversal)
  • The pupils create artistic work from a defined assignment and their own imagination.
  • The pupils experiment with various artistic elements such as language, body, space, time, form, colour, sound, digital data.
  • The pupils show their artistic work using elementary presentation techniques.
  • The pupils reflect on the basis of provided criteria about their artistic product and process and about that of fellow pupils.

Some of these goals are considered transversal goals, meaning that they are an integral part of other key competences, others are considered content objectives. The division into subjects or subject clusters is the domain of school boards, school teams and teachers. This applies both to the transversal and the content key competencies/objectives.


Separate subjects

In policy documents such as the Policy Note on Culture 2014-2019 (Beleidsnota Cultuur 2014-2019), Policy Note on Education 2014-2019 (Beleidsnota Onderwijs 2014-2019) , and the Action Plans ‘Education and Culture: together for more and better’ ('Cultuur en Onderwijs – Samen voor meer en beter’, 2016-2017, see section 8.3) and ‘Education and Culture: together for even more and better II’ (‘Onderwijs en Cultuur: samen voor nog meer en beter II’, 2018-2019, see section 8.3),  the importance of cultural education and the need to promote the artistic and creative abilities of young people was strongly emphasized. In the current Policy Notes on Culture (Beleidsnota Cultuur 2019-2024) and Education (Beleidsnota Onderwijs 2019-2024) cultural education is however less emphasized.

Also, in the educational practice the status and provision of cultural education is less prominent. Cultural education is only a compulsory subject in the first two years of secondary education. In these first two years goals are defined for musical and arts education. In upper secondary education schools are not obliged to offer courses on culture or creativity.

In Arts Secondary Education (kunst secundair onderwijs or kso, see also Eurydice for an overview of the educational streams in Flemish education; approximately 2% of the pupils are enrolled in this track) art courses are compulsory. The type of art courses that are offered differ according to the specific discipline the pupil follows. Disciplines that are offered in arts education are e.g. architectural education, artistic education, audiovisual education, ballet, …).

In general (algemeen secundair onderwijs or aso), technical (technisch secundair onderwijs or tso) and vocational educational (beroepssecundair onderwijs or bso)  tracks art subjects are optional and it is up to individual schools whether they offer the subject and often also up to individual students whether they study the subject when offered.


Integrated in other subjects

In upper secondary education cultural education is mainly integrated in other courses (see also –in Dutch- Onderwijsdoelen). For instance, dance education is integrated in sports, literature in the language courses, cultural heritage in history courses. 

In the discipline human sciences (offered in general secondary education) more attention is paid to cultural education. Their main courses are behavioral and cultural sciences. Cultural sciences is broader defined than cultural education as defined in the above mentioned policy documents, but the curriculum on cultural sciences does entail some final goals on arts.

For instance, in the second grade pupils must know to (in Dutch) :

  • Describe how art works can express values
  • Compare different appreciations of arts

And in the third grade in human sciences, pupils must know to (in Dutch):

  • Illustrate and analyze the role and social meaning of artistic expressions for society
  • Analyze artistic expressions from an art-critical, historical and cultural angle

In vocational education, one of the final goals for the subject PAV (project general courses) in second grade is to respect the historical-cultural heritage.


Cross-curricular theme (vakoverschrijdend thema)

Creativity and cultural education is mainly addressed as  a cross-curricular theme (vakoverschrijdend thema) in Flemish education and this for all pupils in upper secondary education. ‏These cross-curricular final objectives are minimum objectives which do not appertain to a particular subject of study, but which are pursued by several subjects or educational projects and activities (via formal learning as well as via non-formal learning). The cross-curricular final objectives entail an obligation of effort for the schools, not for the pupils.

The cross-curricular final objectives apply to all grades in secondary education (see Chapter 6 on education and training for more information). They have a common core of essential skills which are generically formulated and relate to different skills and attitudes. Two of those are relevant in the development of creativity and culture, namely:

  •  Creativity
    • pupils can develop and implement original ideas and solutions
    • pupils take steps to realize innovations
  • Aesthetic skills
    • pupils can experience beauty
    • pupils can create beauty

These skills and competencies are crystallized in 7 contexts: physical health and safety, mental health, socio-relational development, the environment and sustainable development, the politico-judicial society, the socio-economic society, the socio-cultural society.

Art-related cultural exploration as part of social identity development, social interaction and social participation is one of the focal points in the context of the socio-cultural society. Objective is that when dealing with art, media and heritage, pupils take on individual and social learning processes. This is concretised in two goals (both in second grade):

  • Pupils are actively involved in the culture and art that surrounds them;
  • Pupils illustrate the mutual influence of art, culture and technology, politics, economics, science and philosophy of life


Art academies or part-time arts education (Deeltijds Kunstonderwijs)

Part-time art education (Deeltijds Kunstonderwijs or DKO) is education in leisure time aimed at both children, young people as well as adults. It allows students to get acquainted with art in all its expressions, to develop a critical approach towards art, and to practice certain forms of art themselves, individually or in group (e.g. in an orchestra, a dance group, or a theatre company). Part-time art education also prepares some young people for a professional artistic career in higher art education.

On 28 January 2018, The Flemish Parliament approved a Decree on part-time artistic education (Decreet Deeltijds Kunstonderwijs, published on 11/05/2018). The new policy was launched on 1 September 2018.

Part-time art education offers four fields of study: 

  • Dance
  • Music 
  • Visual and audiovisual arts 
  • Word Art - Drama 

Participants in part-time art education enrol on a voluntary basis and pay a registration fee. Children can start from the age of 6 in 1 of these 4 domains or they can opt for a cross-domain initiation course, in which at least 2 domains are covered simultaneously. Each domain consists of different stages. When a student successfully completes a stage (s)he receives a final certificate which indicates the level (s)he reached.

The programs in part-time art education comprise an entire school year of maximum 40 weeks, which lasts from 1 September until 30 June. Some schools combine the weekly teaching periods of certain subjects into fortnightly or monthly classes.


Non-formal learning and  youth work

Non-formal arts and cultural education in Flanders is mainly the responsibility of the Culture and Youth policy fields of the Flemish Community (Department of Culture, Youth and Media). Four types of subsidies are relevant with concern to non-formal learning on creativity and culture, namely subsidies for cultural education associations, subsidies for experimental youth work, general national youth work organizations and youth houses.

1. Youth Work – associations for cultural education

Youth work organizations can apply for subsidies as an association for cultural education (cultuureducatieve vereniging). To be subsidized as an association for cultural education, the organization must first meet a number of general conditions (see Article 17 of the  Decree of 20 January 2012 on the implementation of a renewed youth and child rights policy - Decreet houdende een vernieuwd jeugd- en kinderrechtenbeleid).

To be recognized, the association must realize at least six times a year one of the following modules:

  • organizing a cultural educational activity offer for young people in leisure time;
  • organizing a cultural educational activity offer for the youth outside of leisure time;
  • training of cultural education counselors;
  • guiding young people to an artistic product;
  • guiding local cultural education initiatives for youth

When an association is recognized then

  • this recognition is valid for an indefinite period, provided that the association continues to act in concordance with the conditions for grant and recognition,
  • receives a basic operating subsidy of 80 000 € per year;

The cultural education associations that receive an operating grant may also receive project grants for initiatives that

  • stimulate the artistic creativity of children or young people
  • (or) children or young people learn to understand the language of the arts.

Only projects that respond to developments or opportunities that could not be met when drafting the policy note and which have a special character for the association are eligible for subsidization.

In 2021 16 associations were recognized as cultural education associations and received operating subsidies (in total for 3.193.788€) . Only some of these organisations focus exclusively on children, the others focus (also) on young people:

  • Artforum (Artforum recently merged with Urban Words to form Trill): Artforum is a national youth service that gives children, young people and young artists the opportunity to participate actively and/or receptively in professionally framed arts and culture activities and projects. These activities and projects are located within the broad field of creativity, cultural education, social-artistic and/or artistic work .
  • Casa Blanca: Casa Blanca is an association that aims at developing, executing and supervising art projects for children and young people. They offer activities in a leisure context as well as in school, their activities include e.g. cultural educational programs and workshops.
  • Compagnie Mila: Compagnie MiLa gives children the opportunity to develop their talents in theater, musical, dance, film, circus, song and spectacle during culture-educational camps.
  • Danskant: Danskant uses dance, music and movement as an educational and active cultural experience with the aim of promoting personality development, social integration and participation among children and young people.
  • Das Kunst: Das Kunst wants to stimulate active art experience from a playful angle. Through musical projects and multi-day camps for schools and youth services, children and young people have the opportunity to actively and creatively participate in the activities and come into contact with the various musical domains. Das Kunst aims at children and adolescents aged 6 to 18, in school and leisure time, and to their supervisors.
  • Youth and Dance (Jeugd en Dans): Jeugd en Dans propagates amateur dance in all its diversity, by organizing and supervising youth work activities, and providing information and documentation.
  • Youth Theater Ondersteboven (Jeugdtheater Ondersteboven, JTO): Youth Theater Ondersteboven is a youth theater company in Waasland. JTO is mainly a home for short workshops, longer courses, courses and vacations. In addition to training, JTO also produces theater and musical productions for children and young people.
  • Kamo (became Amadeo Kollectif): Through active arts education Kamo wants to develop the personal, creative, social and communication skills of children from 2,5 to 12 years.
  • Larf!: Larf! is an arts education association that represents a youth theater where theater projects are made with children and young people. Children and young people can discover and experience the game of theater in an open house. By means of workshops and performances, Larf! reconciles theater and education.
  • Bamm: Bamm’s general objective is 'active arts education': learning, over and through the arts through active forms of work. Bamm wants to bring children and young people into contact with theater, music, dance, visual arts and audiovisual arts through their own expressive activity. In addition, Bamm offers contemporary arts education at existing art exhibitions.
  • Musical On Stage: Musical On Stage's main objectives include practicing theater arts and musicals, contributing to general cultural expansion, organizing educational projects and internships, composing music, organizing cultural excursions and organizing workshops and training.
  • Muzische Workshops: Muzische Workshops stimulates art and cultural education by organizing activities in which experiencing, experimenting and creating are central.
  • Passerelle: Passerelle wants children and young people to discover the world of contemporary dance. They bring young amateurs in dialogue with young choreographers and artists from other disciplines. This way, they bridge the world of professional dance with that of the amateur.
  • Piazza: Piazza is a mobile multidisciplinary educational art organization, which gives every youngster the opportunity to develop creatively by means of different multimedia techniques. The organisation focuses on young people from the age of 12 in schools, neighborhoods, youth events, youth houses and cultural centers.
  • Spelenderwijs: Spelenderwijs specializes in educational projects and workshops on science and cultural education. They also bring theater performances and science shows.
  • Villa Basta: Villa Basta wants to discover and stimulate creative enjoyment in all young people from 6 to 30 years to develop it into creative talent. Through workshops and projects on site, children and young people are stimulated. This growth is realized by means of several workshops and studios.


2. Experimental projects (Experimentele projecten)

Since 1 January 2013, the Flemish government (based on the  Decree of 20 January 2012 on the implementation of a renewed youth and child rights policy - Decreet houdende een vernieuwd jeugd- en kinderrechtenbeleid) grants subsidies to associations that set up an experimental project in the following areas:

  • Youth work
  • Information to or about youth and youth participation
  • Cultural education

Experimental projects focus on new developments and needs that live in the youth sector and more generally in youth. They are innovative in terms of methodology or content, for example startups of youth work through new methods or attracting new audiences.

In 2020, 11 projects were subsidized. Five of them are geared toward young people and focus on the development of culture and creativity competences:

  • MatheMagic (project of Dig-IT): Dig-IT links mathematics to visual art through workshops for children. The project tries to stimulate a positive view on mathematics through art & cultural education.
  • Breakthrough with Glass (Doorbraak in glas, project of Gent Glas): various workshops for young people that focus on a range of artistic techniques including drawing, sculpting with glass, glass painting and glass fusing.     
  • Homaar(project of Villa Omaar): Homaar is a place for psychologically vulnerable young people between 15 and 23 years old, who need a temporary break and guidance. During a few weeks the youngsters stay in a small group to catch their breath. During their stay the adolescents can follow diverse creative workshops (e.g. on music, arts, words), tailored to the demands of the young people involved.
  • Steam (project of Nerdlab): Nerdlab is working on the development of a STEAM technique in which the A (arts) is added to the STEM methodology.
  • House of the Wilderness (Huis van de Wildernis, project of Sering): House of the Wilderness offers an imaginative and educational creation process for children with the main objective of restoring the bond between child and nature. By intertwining methodologies from participatory theater and theater therapy with the natural sciences, one comes to a "played" science, in which children rediscover nature and put old knowledge in a new coat to be able to pass it on themselves.


3. National Youth Work (Landelijk Georganiseerde Jeugdverenigingen)

Also within subsidized national youth work, some organizations focus on cultural participation, some examples (other examples can be found in 8.7):

  • Young Heroes (Jonge Helden):Jonge Helden aims to promote game and play to children and youth in a framework of creativity and with attention to participation, environment and community life. To this end, CREFI organizes vacations and courses, youth hosts are supported, and play-offs have been worked out.
  • King Kevin (Koning Kevin): Koning Kevin aims to stimulate and develop a playful, creative and artistic attitude. Therefore Koning Kevin programs a range of initiatives in which dance, drama, music, image, media, game, but also creative thinking, figurative theater, cooking, writing are addressed.


4. Youth houses (jeugdhuizen)


Youth houses are open and low-threshold meeting places for young people, which can be found in almost every Flemish municipality. Youth houses are considered to be places where impulses are given for diversity, youth culture, attention to vulnerable groups, sense of creativity and enterprise.

On 19 June 2013, the Flemish Parliament asked the Flemish Government to recognize youth houses as ‘anchor points’ for young people in local communities and to consider them as partners, especially in domains that are also part of the Flemish youth policy plan: diversity, youth culture, broad schools, vulnerable groups and sense of creativity and enterprise (see: Resolution on Flemish policy regarding youth houses – Resolutie betreffende het Vlaamse beleid ten aanzien van jeugdhuizen).

With the subsidies for supra-local projects of youth houses, the Flemish government wants to respond to changes that occur in the youth house sector and give impetus for creativity and innovation.

Once every four years, the Flemish Government can grant operating subsidies to professionalized youth houses if they respond to the priorities of the Flemish youth and children's rights policy. Stimulating artistic expression is one of the three priorities.

Specialised training for professionals in the education, culture and youth fields

Training for teachers in formal education

Since the academic year 2019-2020, pre-service teacher training programmes have been set up exclusively by higher education institutions (see also Eurydice). Since September 2019, there are six types/types of teacher training programmes in Flanders with, in addition, the specific teacher training programme being temporarily phased out. Each teacher training programme has its own finality and is aimed at a specific group of prospective teachers:  

  • Educational graduate programme (non-university higher education first degree qualification) for secondary education (for VET subjects only) 
  • Educational bachelor's programme for pre-school education 
  • Educational bachelor's programme for primary education 
  • Educational bachelor's programme for (lower) secondary education 
  • Educational master's programme for (higher) secondary education 
  • Educational master's programme for art subjects

 There are different organizations (non-profit organizations, university colleges, universities, etc.) that offer in-service training projects. These are recorded (purely for information reasons, with no evaluation purpose) in an in-service training database (nascholingsdatabase) on the Klascement-website that can be consulted online. And also on the Cultuurkuur site, professionals in education, culture and youth work can find some trainings and workshops on teaching methodologies for cultural education.

A special form of in-service training is Kunstkuur (in Dutch). Kunstkuur stimulates and finances collaboration between a primary, secondary or higher education school and a nearby arts academy. For a period of three school years, arts teachers of the arts academies share the classroom with teachers from a school or higher education institution. This way teachers of arts academies bring artistic expertise into the classroom and art teachers become more skilled in dealing with diverse class groups and refine their didactic actions. Also third cultural education partners can be involved. Support is given in the form of extra hours for the arts academy and operating resources.


Training for professionals in non-formal education

In 2012, the Department of Culture, Youth and Media (Departement Cultuur, Jeugd en Media) and the Department of Education and Training (Departement Onderwijs en Vorming) made a description of the occupation cluster 'cultural educator' and developed a competency profile for facilitators for artistic practitioners. The described competencies are intended as an in-depth guide to education, training and recognition of acquired competencies (EVC).

Several of the organizations mentioned in 8.5.1. offer management training and animator courses, e.g. Mooss, Jonge Helden, … .

Since 2017 Canon Cultuurcel and the Department of Culture, Youth and Media organize an Expert Training Cultural Education. This training is aimed at directors, policy staff, practitioners, educators and pedagogical counselors ... from the wide field of culture and education. Participants are immersed in the theory, policy and practice of cultural education for a number of months, focusing on the framework of “Culture in the Mirror” (Cultuur in de Spiegel).

Providing quality access to creative environments

There is a great diversity of cultural and youth infrastructure in Flemish cities and municipalities. This infrastructure is managed by several actors.

Cultural and youth infrastructure can be owned by private legal entities (including non-profit organizations), municipal authorities or the Flemish government.

The infrastructure of the cities, the municipality and the private legal entities falls under the competence of the local authorities . The Flemish government is competent for the Flemish Community's own cultural and youth accommodation. 

The Flemish government provides investment subsidies for large (urban) and sectoral accommodations in the youth and culture sectors. The Cultural Infrastructure Fund is responsible for managing its own cultural infrastructure and granting investment subsidies for culture and youth infrastructure.

As mentioned in the section ‘Acquiring cultural and creative competences through education and training’ youth houses are open and low-threshold meeting places for young people, which can be found in almost every Flemish municipality. They are considered to be places where impulses are given for diversity, youth culture, attention to vulnerable groups, sense of creativity and enterprise.