Publication Type:Book Chapter
Source:Diversität in der Kulturellen BIldung (Diversity in Arts Education), transcript, Bielefeld (2015)
Interculturality and transculturality have been the focus of scientific discourse for some time now. However, there is still very little emphasis on “internationality” in arts education. Analogous to the increasingly international names of the protagonists found in school books, we now need to look at whether shifts are occurring in the artistic repertoire of arts education. Does the quarter tone scale play a greater role in communicating music, alongside the whole-tone scale? Or are the books of Iranian authors as relevant in literature projects with children and young people as those by German authors?
To facilitate an initial assessment of current practice, the Academy of Arts Education investigated 459 arts education projects within the scope of an exploratory empirical study. It examined how international the focus of these projects is in terms of the artistic repertoire, the topics discussed and their references to lifeworld. The results showed that only a quarter of the projects made reference to works of art or lifeworld from other countries. At the same time, a strong eurocentricity was observed. It is clear that facilitators in the practice of arts education draw primarily upon their own cultural influences.
The article "Internationality in arts educational practice. An explorative empirical study" (2015) by Susanne Keuchel looks at the impact of international diversity in projects and initiatives in arts education. Examining examples from arts education in Germany, study asks whether and to what extent they include so-called diversity-related subjects. Based on the assumption that arts educational practice should address and reflect de facto social diversity in Germany, the author compares art education projects in terms of thematic focus and players with and without a migration background, and undertakes a comparative analysis of the individual results.
Interculturality, diversity and internationality
According to the author, the ways "to create diversity-related references in arts educational projects" are "varied and complex" (Keuchel, 2015, p. 134). Nevertheless, the explorative study takes on this methodical challenge and describes the "characteristics of diversity-conscious arts education projects on various multi-dimensional levels" (ibid., p. 136) according to concept, subjects, perspectives and references to diversity. Accordingly, the perspective, in other words the underlying philosophy of projects in arts education, can relate to cultural diversity or have a polycultural, intercultural or transcultural focus. The author describes the characteristics of "diversity-related references" as "international", "milieu-specific", "generation-specific" and "art as an unfamiliar perspective on aspects of everyday life", whereby the research question focuses on the first-mentioned: "Which international artistic and thematic subjects can be found in national arts education projects?" (ibid.)? Diversity in arts education therefore concentrates on the question of country-specific references in arts education projects, for example international artists, country-specific art forms and works of art. However, the author notes that the concept of diversity actually reflects the "special interaction between cultures (…), exchange and entanglement" (ibid., p. 135).
To take into account the topicality of the subject of diversity and interest in current developments, the survey examined 459 arts education projects that were carried out between 2012 and 2014 (the projects started in this period). The sample was taken from a double-digit number of projects with an even distribution of the projects across Germany.
To determine the international diversity-related subjects, as described, the content of the project descriptions was assessed, based upon the assumption that if such subjects are included, they are explicitly mentioned in the description.
The study also looked at whether or not the players mentioned in the project description have a migration background. In the first step, the "names in connection with their professions (…) were googled and researched in Facebook in order to obtain biographical information" (ibid, p. 139). In the comparison of projects in which artists and arts educators with and without a migration background participated, the author considers not only data records that contain the names of the participants, she also compares the number of projects with participants with an (assumed) migration background with the other projects. This was done on the assumption that the participation of artists and art educators has a profile-raising effect, like the thematic focus, and that as a result they are more likely to be included in project descriptions (ibid., p. 149).
The author acknowledges that the conclusion that first and second names "definitely not common in Germany" imply a migration background involves a certain vagueness, but that this is ultimately due to the explorative nature of the study.
Finally, a focus on cultural diversity was also included as a separate category in the assessment because such a thematic focus probably suggests the inclusion of international diversity-related subjects (ibid, p. 138f).
Outcomes and outlook
The study comes to the following conclusions, which could be an interesting basis for further investigations:
- In city states, but also in the "new" federal states, the investigated project descriptions tend to contain more international diversity-related subjects or a focus on cultural diversity in general. According to the author, the first instance may be to do with the demographic makeup of city states, the second may be attributable to greater sensitivity to (international) diversity (ibid., p. 141f)
- Between 2012 and 2014, a "marked decline in the number of diversity-related subjects" (p. 141f) is observed, a trend the author attributes to thematically overlapping, similarly focused and/or concurring subject areas (ibid.)
- Only a small proportion of projects with international diversity-related subjects deal with non-German artists and/or works of art from countries other than Germany. However, in projects that focus explicitly on countries / artists outside Germany, a strong Eurocentric trend is in evidence.
- Depending on method of investigation and comparison, the proportion of projects involving players with a migration background is 31% or 20%. This drops to 18% or 11% if the total number of artists and arts educators is considered irrespective of the individual projects.
- The number of players with a migration background, differentiated according to project start, declines slightly during the investigation period
- The proportion of participating arts mediators with a migration background is highest in metropolitan areas and city states. This is explained by the overall population makeup (ibid., p. 150).
- The participation of persons with a migration background correlates with international diversity-related subjects in arts education projects.
- The genre-based evaluation reveals a relatively high proportion of international diversity-related subjects in theatre and film projects, with dance projects recording a high percentage of mediators with a migration background, although they have no specific thematic focus on diversity. This could be explained by the specific nature of the movement-based art form (ibid., p. 153f).
Given the process of ongoing globalisation and internationalisation, the author stresses the importance of systematically including international subjects in arts education practice. Diversity and internationality should not be a niche area of arts education practice but should become normality (ibid., p. 156).