The KulturTagJahr is a longterm interdisciplinary format of cultural education for schools: over the course of one school year students investigate nature, guided by artists from various disciplines. One set day per week is dedicated to artistic exploration, a mandatory part of the curriculum for an entire school grade. At the center of the KulturTagJahr lies the encounter between children and teens and noted artists, working together over longer periods of time. The objective here is to foster creativity and promote a willingness to take on responsibility in young people via art and nature, thus aiding in their character development. An interdisciplinary approach brings together artists from varied backgrounds – dance, music, literature, fine arts, and drama – and children and teens, affording the latter in-depth insights into the diversity of artistic practices and techniques.
The KulturTagJahr is based on several principles which provide a framework for the students-artists collaboration, allowing them to find their own bearings on the one hand but also granting them sufficient artistic freedom on the other. Interdisciplinarity is one of these principles, as well as time, extracurricular places of learning, and the encounter with art and nature.
One of the most important requirements when it comes to artistic processes is the time factor. The KulturTagJahr-schools have agreed to dedicate an entire morning (up to five hours) to cultural endeavors per week, melding a slew of subjects (German, Music, Physical Education, and Art) to cover the four arts (literature/drama, fine arts, music, and dance). KulturTagJahr therefor remains part of graded subjects. By dialoging with the artists, teachers will acquire evaluation standards that may help gain newfound understanding for students and their abilities. Another important aspect of KulturTagJahr is a new way of dealing with time structures. Artists, teachers, and students break time down into work phases and breaks according to what is needed—independently of the default school system. For the students this means they can truly delve deeply into individual creative processes, discover the arts, explore and question freely, make mistakes when it comes to realizing personal projects and ideas and grow from these mistakes, specialize in something, and finally present their own findings to the public. Sustaining and furthering each student's relationship to art lies at the heart of the effort. By working with professional artists for a full school year, students also get to know new aspects of themselves.
Working with and within nature is an essential part of KulturTagJahr. Artists and teachers accompany students throughout their artistic exploration through nature. Taking the ALTANA Cultural Foundation's “Collection on Nature” with its 600 works by contemporary artists, as well as nature excursions as starting points, children and teens create their own means of access to their environment, be it through fine art, dance, music, or literature. Getting out of confined school interiors, investigating natural materials, and simply diving into nature are part of the equation. This close proximity with nature affords students new sensory experiences (materials and products) which become building blocks for the artistic research.
Artistic processes that take place in extracurricular places of learning (forests, parks, zoos, museums, theaters, studios...) are an essential aspect of KulturTagJahr, igniting interests within students and altering ingrained social habits of school classes. Consecutive four hour-long sessions are required to make such trips to cultural institutions and other destinations possible, breaking away from a school's schedule and location to work in new perimeters.
The core of the KulturTagJahr is the collaboration between students and artists, and the intense encounter students have with the four art disciplines. KulturTagJahr looks to facilitate a deeper appreciation and understanding of art and nature within young people, but also to strengthen their self-confidence and thus make lasting changes to school culture.
Students are able to discover their own creative potential during the KulturTagJahr, and what's more they also learn to work on their self-assessment by actively engaging with their own artistic works. In this way, KulturTagJahr contributes to students' aesthetic eduction as well as character development. The fact that regular school timetables and classes are broken up also generates a shared experience that students, teachers, and artists can partake in together.
The ALTANA Cultural Foundation's concept is based around long-term cultural education. In taking on the KulturTagJahr challenge schools commit for several years, meaning that many, if not all students as well as teachers of a given school will benefit from the experience—and this will ultimately generate lasting changes within the school culture. All participants – students, artists, and teachers – bring the notion of artistic practice to the school, deeply rooting culture within the overall climate in doing so. The interdisciplinary quality of KulturTagJahr that favors all four artistic disciplines equally also promotes a sense of understanding and respect for anything that is different or new, including people, instilling a sense of tolerance within students. Artists are appreciated for their professionalism and authenticity, enriching the overall experience of being at school. They guide students in finding new ways of seeing and imagining, embodying a liberal and individual approach to teaching and learning. Shared experiences, newfound understanding, and a new way of interacting with the arts positively shape the entire institution, resulting in programs and work groups focused on student-artist collaborations beyond KulturTagJahr. All in all, cultural education becomes securely rooted within school life.