Abu Dhabi: In the presence of teachers, school administrators, university students and museum directors the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi held a forum and workshop on Saturday titled Audience Matters: Museum-School Partnerships.

The forum and workshop not only highlighted the importance of art education in schools but also provided information and tools on how educators can do so. Also, several members of the audience discussed their experiences as educators in the UAE before participating in a sample workshop provided by the Guggenheim.

"There are several art education programmes that are in place at the Guggenheim in New York, such as, ‘Learning through Art', which has been in place since the seventies, where artists go into elementary schools and create a one-year course for them. We also provide workshops and tours for schools, with some allowing students to create their own pieces," Sharon Vatsky, the Associate Director for School and Family Programmes, said.

While all agreed that there was not enough attention being provided to fostering art education in schools, some raised the point that there are several hurdles that must be faced before the Guggenheim can implement its art education programmes successfully in the UAE.

Progressive schools

"There are relatively progressive schools here and some which are more conservative. It would be great to have more inquiry-based programmes available in schools to help students learn through creativity. Many adults have grown up with one specific style of learning, or are teaching using a specific style they learn.. to change this perception..it's a generational change. It will take some time before people start looking at art as an overall part of education," Dr George Robinson, Superintendent, American Community School, Abu Dhabi said.

Speaking exclusively to Gulf News, Kim Kanatani of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, revealed how the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will build upon what was established during the forum and workshop.

"We are looking at various ways to implement our ideas…by building relationships with community organisations and government entities [in the UAE] to understand how art can address the concerns of people here in terms of culture, heritage and even identity because there's a lot of overlap of identity in art. This event is the first in an ongoing series of forums… future ones can target families; university students… even tourists and Emiratis. We want to cut across all sectors to service the region," she said.