Cultural Encounters and Northern Reflections

WAAE Summit 2012, 7 - 10 November 2012

Background and Context

UNESCO held its first World Conference on Arts Education in Lisbon, Portugal, in March 2006. A key element of that Conference was a Joint Declaration by the International Drama/Theatre and Education Association (IDEA), the International Society for Music Education (ISME), and the International Society for Education through Art (InSEA) to work together through a World Alliance for Arts Education (WAAE). The Joint Declaration included the statements:

We have united to define an integrated strategy that responds to a critical moment in human history: social fragmentation, a dominant global culture of competition, endemic urban and ecological violence, and the marginalization of key educational and cultural languages of transformation.

We believe that today’s knowledge-based, post-industrial societies require citizens with confident flexible intelligences, creative verbal and non-verbal communication skills, abilities to think critically and imaginatively, intercultural understandings and an empathetic commitment to cultural diversity.

For more than half a century, our associations have contributed significantly o the development of curricula and teaching approaches. We are now ready to respond proactively to the diverse social and cultural needs of our world…to collaborate with all governments, networks, institutions, communities and individuals who share our vision.

In 2007, IDEA and the Government of Hong Kong SAR co-hosted the WAAE’s first World Creativity Summit which assembled outstanding innovators from education, arts, science, policy-making, trade, industry and journalism to discuss strategies and form partnerships to advocate creative pedagogies for the 21st Century. In 2008, InSEA and the Government of Taiwan co-hosted the second phase of this World Creativity Summit. The WAAE reconvened and invited the World Dance Alliance, launching three strategic working groups in research, networking and advocacy.

In 2009 the WAAE partnered with Creativity, Culture and Education (UK) and the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative in Newcastle, UK. This conference prepared strategic recommendations for a WAAE delegation to present at UNESCO, Paris, November 2009 and then for presentation at the 2nd UNESCO World Conference on Arts Education, Seoul, Korea, May 2010. At Seoul, the WAAE was profiled as one of UNESCO’s key summit ‘partners’ along with the Korean Arts Culture and Education Services (KACES).

A major outcome from the 2nd UNESCO World Conference on Arts Education was a document called The Seoul Agenda. This document translated the UNESCO 2006 Road Map for Arts Education into a strategic planning and action orientated document for use in grassroots level communities as well as political forums. The WAAE had a strong voice in conceiving and developing the Seoul Agenda. WAAE also advocated for a UNESCO International Week for Arts Education, and support for a third World Conference on Arts Education. At the 36th meeting of the UNESCO General Council, The Seoul Agenda was accepted as UNESCO policy and, the fourth week of May every year will be proclaimed as International Week for Arts Education.

In February 2011 the WAAE Executive Council met in Auckland, New Zealand, and put in place a plan for moving WAAE forward. We put out a worldwide call for organizations to host the next WAAE gathering. As a result of that process the University of Lapland, Finland, in association with the Institute for Northern Culture, will host the conference in 2012, and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in partnership with the German Federation for Arts Education and Cultural Learning, have agreed to host a WAAE conference in May 2013.

The WAAE will hold its fourth summit in partnership with the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland, 7 – 9 November 2012, entitled Cultural Encounters and Northern Reflections. Rovaniemi, in the far north of Finland, fosters cultural understanding, especially those within the Circumpolar North. Rovaniemi provides an ideal place for WAAE to celebrate achievements to date and also prepare future agendas and action.

Guiding Aims

The Guiding Aims of the 2012 Summit are 

1) Reviewing and developing the WAAE’s strategic plans within the areas of Research, Advocacy and Networking.

2) Developing the relationship between creative pedagogies and the cultivations of knowledge-based societies that nurture sustainable development, global solidarity, co-operation and human rights through strategic partnerships between the WAAE, industry, civil society and government representatives.

Specific Objectives 

The above aims are focused through the following specific objectives: 

  • sharing international arts education research on pedagogy, curriculum, cultural sustainability and community engagement 
  • reviewing and developing the WAAE alliance and strategic plans within the areas of Research, Advocacy, Networking 
  • advancing understanding of UNESCO’s Seoul Agenda: Goals for Arts Education 


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