We have found ourselves in time and space where lifespan is prolonging and four generations encounter each other interactively. We live longer and new forms of intergenerational social networks are arising. The question we ask ourselves is whether we can find and make use of this new cohesion and provide flow of knowledge and experience, whether we live better and above all – what to do to make life more qualitative, coherent and interesting.
Due to its multitude and quality of organization culture, especially amateur culture, is a peculiar phenomenon. Within this creative field every group finds its space – regardless of age, gender, race, religion, nationality. This extensive social and cultural participation, detected and statistically registered in Slovenian amateur culture, comprises about 130.000 active creators (Slovenia has 2 million inhabitants) and their production is annually seen by 4 million visitors.
At the operative level the term amateurism in Slovenia determines those cultural activities where performers (members of choirs, theatrical and puppet groups, folklore ensembles, film groups, dance groups, literary and artistic groups) themselves do not practise this activity as a profession (as a rule they are neither paid for their activity nor formally educated). But in the field of amateurism as well many formally educated professionals act as mentors and professional leaders and get paid for their work. Moreover, leaders and members can obtain knowledge and competence in extensive professional programmes of seminars, courses, workshops and schools, mostly organized by the Republic of Slovenia Public Fund for Cultural Activities (JSKD), a professional support network for versatile development of creative potentials in the field of amateur culture. Through its programmes it enables self-actualisation of individuals and their personal growth, represents a powerful element of cultural cohesion, stimulates active citizenship and through programmes of lifelong education it invigorates competence, knowledge and skills. As a professional, organizational and financial network it offers creators quality education and events, professional publications and periodicals, performs advisory activity and grants subsidies for the projects of cultural societies. As the umbrella organization for the field of amateurism JSKD engages itself in interdepartmental cooperation and international connections. It perceives the Slovenian cultural space as a field of open communication, pleasant creativity and complete cultural education for sustainable development.
Due to the aforementioned data the cross-section of intergenerational activity, lifelong learning and amateur culture in Slovenia shows the effects that reflect themselves in numerous projects and extensive activity. Amateur culture joins people thus reaching every field of social activity. It enables spending quality free time, invigorates social networks, upgrades knowledge, offers new experience, develops creativity, through the systems of mentors and selectors it enables transfer and preservation of knowledge, values, tradition ... in a word, it plays an important role of a social integrator.
In continuation the Cultural school project is presented. The project performer (JSKD) acts as a support network to cultural activity, mainly happening at social, amateur level. Because JSKD is aware of the influence of cultural education and creativity on different aspects of human beings, approximately half of all programmes of JSKD (education, events, publishing) are intended for children, the young and their mentors. Cultural school joins all the main functions of amateur culture:
Cultural creativity and performance
Central functions of cultural amateurism are cultural creativity and performance. Non-institutional and non-professional status opens an entirely unburdened space for creativity and experimentation. Especially in the field of theatre and puppets, film and video, contemporary dance, fine arts and literature it gives individuals and groups a chance to take the first steps. Many young, unrecognized authors often proceed to professional cultural activity through the phase of cultural amateurism. In the framework of classical social activities, like choirs, folklore ensembles, the singled out best achievements of top ensembles – thanks to top-level professional leaders and distinctive work approach – represent an equivalent parallel to the professional ensembles and institutions respectively.
Culture education in the field of amateur culture includes all generations and are equally accessible all over Slovenia – with a clear goal: to raise the quality and scope of cultural activity. Namely, the precondition for cultural activity (passive, active) is suitable knowledge, which was by the vast majority of art lovers and amateurish cultural creators not gained with mainstream education.
Cultural education programmes in this field have a long tradition and comprise top Slovenian and foreign experts as well as education systems in the form of seminars, workshops, courses, summer camps, conferences, schools, upgraded over the last ten years. By means of JSKD network and cultural societies the system of lifelong learning, further training and personal growth is supported, thus including all generations, from children to seniors, in these programmes. They are focused on covering deficit areas and introducing basic practises at regional level and on upgrading knowledge at national level. Users are getting more familiar with new aspects of creative art practise and are able to connect to other segments of social life. Education for activities for which institutional education and other quality extra forms of education respectively do not exist are especially carefully prepared.
Integration of less privileged groups
Due to diversity of forms and contents and different levels of difficulty cultural amateurism is the field that enables affirmation also for those social groups and individuals that do not achieve personal fulfilment and confirmation in their everyday working or family environment or are for biological (disabled), age (children, youth, elderly people) or any other reasons marginalised.
The programmes of JSKD, cultural societies and associations thus include programmes for specific social groups with the priority task to stimulate connection with the goal of raising general sense of belonging to society, surpassing diversity, qualitative and quantitative growth of these groups, and their integration, which enables preserving their special features.
Accessibility of cultural goods
From the point of view of accessibility of cultural goods amateur culture is an important factor. The network of JSKD, cultural societies association and cultural societies is the organizer and/or facilitator of cultural and cultural educational events. Diversification of the system and intertwining of the professional network of public sector with the civil sphere enable spatial dispersion of cultural offer, which denotes equal opportunities for establishing direct contact with "live" cultural creativity.
Spending quality free time
An important function of cultural amateurism is spending quality free time as well. It is about cultural activity that encourages socialising, abolishes social exclusion and enables potential development. In this sense joining cultural groups has a strong meaning as regards integration and socialisation, and contributes to social cohesion.
Amateur culture also has the function of surpassing departmental borders. Intensive work with children, pupils and the young reaches into the school sphere where creativity and cultural activity are encouraged through numerous projects in extracurricular activities. The purpose of such connections is to raise cultural awareness and stimulate schools to become cultural centres in the environment of their activity.
On the other hand, amateur culture is the field that encourages creativity and raises the quality of life for the elders. In this area it connects to the social sector because it provides social cohesion and gives rise to a vibrant network of cultural activities, which actively influences the welfare of individuals.
Cultural school: PROJECT
The Cultural school project is an innovative integral approach for connecting the culture and education systems. It is primarily intended for culture programmes and projects performed in schools as extracurricular activities. It has a clear goal – to raise the quality and the range of active and passive cultural activity of pupils and their parents, grandparents and mentors within extracurricular activities, which are not a part of school curriculum. The purpose of the action is to increase the quality programmes for proper cultural education in elementary schools, to provide conditions for the young to be creative in all fields of art, to support quality achievements and to attend to the education of the participants and the mentors. The most important purpose of the project is for school to become the centre of culture programmes in local environments – with the purpose of promoting creativity, lifelong learning and connecting.
The Cultural school project is thus systematically connecting cultural and school spheres that are in the process of cultural education indispensable partners. The professional approach of the project is a principle warmly welcomed by schools because it enables proper development, presentation, promotion and evaluation of work within extracurricular activities.
The Cultural school project is structurally happening at local, regional and national levels over the network of 59 branch offices of JSKD across Slovenia and comprises:
1. informational and organizational support with connecting a school to other cultural factors and with realization of culture programmes:
By means of employees of branch offices JSKD is available to elementary schools for creating cultural life in their area. Information flow, organization of specialist education, events, issuing publications and organization of cultural events in schools add value to the intertwinement of amateur culture and schools on both sides. It is a two-way process, namely schools are invited to cultural events, performed by the culture professionals, on a regular basis – as active participants (performers) or as guests – spectators/listeners.
In individual segments the project can include other organizations from public and private sphere besides elementary schools – societies and institutes from the field of culture, cultural centres, theatres, libraries, museums, institutes for the protection of cultural heritage, galleries and non-governmental organizations, Third age university, schools, kindergartens, music schools, faculties, Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Government's Office for Slovenians Abroad, Slovenian Institute for Adult Education, Tourist Association of Slovenia ... depending on location and extent of the programme.
2. network of events for presentation, comparison and evaluation of achievements at local, regional and national levels
On the level of events the project has a pyramid design, meaning that it is happening at three levels – local, regional and national. Each event for children in this system has an educational connotation as well because workshops, round tables and technical consultations are organized at the same time. They are conducted by professionals with the intention of upgrading knowledge of the mentors and the participants. The pyramid system enables all children groups regardless of the activity (choralism, theatre, puppets, folklore, dance, literary, film activity) to present their work to general public and the selector once a year (local level is fully open for all wishing to participate). The selector than chooses the best for the regional event. The best are promoted at national festivals.
3. network of seminars, workshops and other forms of education for the participants in these processes (pupils, children) at local, regional and national levels:
4. network of seminars, workshops and other forms of education for the mentors of these processes at regional and national levels:
Cultural school bears a strong educational connotation for all the participants. A lot of energy and expert knowledge is put into the preparation of quality informal educational modules with top-level mentors (from daily seminars, practical workshops, courses ... to summer camps and year-round schools) offering basic as well as further knowledge for all the project participants. On a yearly basis over 10.000 people are included in the education system (over 400 forms).
5. award ceremonies through the Cultural school tender (promotion, benefits and incentives).
By the Cultural school tender top quality achievements of elementary schools in the field of cultural activities are presented, with examples of good practice being introduced to the general public. The Cultural school title can be acquired by elementary schools with cultural activity developed above average as regards the range and the quality and that act as the centres of cultural programmes of their environment (this encourages lifelong learning, cooperation and equal opportunities).
Schools that meet the following requirements are eligible to apply for the Cultural school title:
- diversified and quality cultural life in more than three fields of cultural activities – music, theatre, puppets, folklore, film and video, dance, art and photography, literature, cultural heritage preservation – has existed in school for at least three years and that it includes a large number of pupils and teachers;
- programmes originate in and are carried out mostly within optional subjects and extracurricular activities;
- the school enables and encourages mentorship of its workers, specific education and further training in the fields of cultural and artistic activity;
- their groups regularly participate in shows, meetings, festivals and competitions, intended for the presentation, comparison and evaluation of achievements;
- it organizes cultural events for pupils on a regular basis;
- it prepares culture programmes for general public;
- it enables activity of other cultural societies and groups on its premises.
The criteria for granting the Cultural school title are mainly the range and the contents of one's own cultural activity, the range and the contents of cultural events, prepared for pupils of the school in its own production or in cooperation with others; the quality and wide response of culture programmes, prepared for general public; group achievements in different shows, meetings, festivals and competitions at local, regional and national levels, and international achievements; the range and the contents of specific education and further training the school prepares for the mentors; mentor participation in education and further training in the field of culture, prepared by others; enabling cultural activity of other groups and societies on its premises. Assessment proportionally takes into account school size and the number of pupils.
As Blaise Pascal says, only culture makes us learn and advance constantly. In this context the Cultural school project represents natural cohabitation of culture and education, distinctively reflected in numerous possibilities of partnership between amateur culture and school sphere. We estimate the project to be set and executed holistically. It is opening the space for arising new practices and creativity and at the same time it is setting up the framework for acquiring knowledge, comparing and evaluating achievements and connections in all directions (intergenerational, interdepartmental, international). On account of its clear structure and the ability of quick adaptation to the needs of the surroundings it is achieving its goal – more people are acquainting themselves with and getting to know amateur cultural creativity, they are learning, socializing, connecting and personally growing.