Jaume Colomer cultural management consultant, director of Bissap and associate professor at the UB

1. Problem

The performing arts do not usually form part of formal teaching programmes in Spain, therefore often remain on the fringes of the education system

Many experts defend the value of including artistic education in the successive phases of learning, especially theatre. Intervening in its practice are a series of factors of an instrumental, expressive and team-building nature that make theatre an ideal educational vehicle. In this sense, a study on the performing arts activities of Spanish schools concludes that 84% practise them and that, consequently, they are a habitual activity (regular or occasional, either during school hours or as an extracurricular activity). The main obstacles to performing arts activities are a lack of wiling and aptly- skilled teaching staff to organise them and the small amount of time staff are able to devote to them, a lack of suitable venues, school calendars overloaded with academic and sporting activities and scarce appreciation of their value by the rest of the educational community.

2. Approach

CaixaEscena offers an accessible website to help teachers build relations, with each other and with performing arts professionals. It also gives access to numerous theatrical resources

The methodology based on accompaniment offers resources to facilitate the task of teachers, to encourage their own involvement and the understanding of the rest of the educational community and to provide objective tools for evaluating the educational impact. It also offers workshops and meet-ups, and above all, enables the sharing of experiences with other centres, favouring interaction. In 2017, two pilot projects were undertaken; the first, with the Catalan Government’s Education department, provides support to 13 UEC (Alternative Education Unit) centres which, through theatre, aim to improve the school performance and the self-esteem of 130 young participants at risk of social exclusion. The second, in cooperation with the Social Area of ”la Caixa”, promotes theatre, community action and volunteering by older people at seven EspacioCaixa centres in different regions.

3. Results

The results indicate that a good programme of accompaniment for the teacher that offers access to artistic materials of quality has a positive impact on children and teenagers

Since 2006, 1,225 teachers, 45,000 young people and over 80 theatre professionals have participated in theatrical initiatives promoted by CaixaEscena. Nearly 40% of the projects choose to perform plays that are collectively and self-created, whereas the rest prefer to adapt classic works by playwrights such as Shakespeare, Calderón de la Barca and, in the case of Catalonia, Santiago Rusiñol. The area most consulted has been the one related to stage adaptation and playwriting, followed by musical and scenographic resources. Furthermore, a total of 38 online workshops have been held for teacher training in diverse subjects. Now the challenge is to objectively assess the effects of these theatrical practices in the curricular learning of young people, in the construction their personal values system and in the creation of cultural interests and habits.