Costa Rica's Country Profile on Arts and Education

Introduction- This wiki page is a brief look at Costa Rica's policies on arts education and some prominent artists. external image map_of_costa-rica.jpg

Biography of Costa Rica- Costa Rica is a small country located in Central America with its borders being the Caribbean Sea to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west, Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Costa Rica has a population around 4.5 million people and with 1.5 million of those people living in its capital city of San Jose. Costa Rica was originally inhabited by Native Americans over 500 years ago. The first ecncounter between the Europeans and the indigonous people of Costa Rica was in 1502, twenty two years later it was conquered by Spain in 1524. Costa Rica later gained their independence in 1821. The country continued to have political turmoil until the end of the military dictatorship of Agustin de Iturbide in 1882. Since then Costa Rica has been the most democratic nation in Central America. In recent years, there has been several disputes about how the economy should be run and this has caused the presidential seat to change hands quite frequently. Individuals from Costa Rica refer to themselves as Ticos and will be referred to that throughout this page.

Arts Education in Costa Rica- The educational system in Costa Rica is one of the most developed in Central America. Costa Rica spends around 30% of its annual budget on education, as evidence of this Costa Rica has a literacy rate of 96%, which is the highest in all of Central America. In 1869, Costa Rica was the first country in the world to make education available to all populations and to make it mandatory for everyone to attend. The basic outline for a child’s mandatory schooling career in Costa Rica lasts around 12 years. The first stage of this would consist of the child attending a preschool, which lasts around one year. The second level of education is a nine year time span that has three trimesters. The first two cycles are representative of the child’s elementary education. During this period, the child has the opportunity to take electives in many different types of classes such as the arts. After this time period, the child would enter another three year cycle in which the child would receive training in a more advanced level of education in areas that the child has shown aptitude for such as: Health, media, fine arts, and science. If arts are the chosen path for the student during this period, they will undergo discipline arts based training. After this, the child can go onto a final, higher level of education that offers training for certain jobs such as teachers. Most of the presidents, including the first one, were teachers at one point in their lives and thus, place a large emphasis on importance on an individual having a well rounded education. Funding for most art programs in schools comes from the Ministry of Education and sometimes is funded by private sectors interested in the benefits of the arts.

Arts and Arts Training- An individual in Costa Rica can earn the credentials to call themselves an art educator at a university level. external image 1325.jpgAt the University of Costa Rica a person can receive a degree in performing arts that will provide this person with the knowledge on how to, "A Bachelor and / or degree in Performing Arts is able to understand and perform as an actor, director, set designer, scenic area coach, critic, historian and researcher of the performing arts. Also will be able to perform in radio, film and television, literary adaptation issues for audiovisual productions, to direct theater and radio productions to perform work as an assistant in audiovisual productions. Also, be able to take courses and theater workshops for children, adolescents, adults and seniors, as well as practice teaching of theater in public and private institutions.."( University of Costa Rica). The schooling for this degree usually requires four years to complete the 142 credits needed to graduate with a Bachelors in Performing Arts. This university is just one of the four public universities in Costa Rica. There are also numerous other private universities that offer more centralized classes on the subjects they specialize in. These universities come at a high cost though compared to the four public universities of Costa Rica.

Francisco Amighetti ( June 1, 1907-1998)- Francisco was a native of Costa Rica and of Italian descent who grew up in Costa Rica and attended the public schools. While in primary school he was recognized for his talent in the arts and was later sent to Academia de Bellas Artes. He received tutelage from Tomas Povedano, a famous Spanish painter. Through Pavedano's external image amighetti.jpgteachings, Amighetti began to hone his own artistic ability and skills. His big break came when he began creating cartoons forexternal image 1737772_0.jpg the famous art magazine " Repertorio Americano". Amighhetti and five other painters became most famous for rebelling against the traditional trend of creating art in the classical European fashion. He began using xylographs as the main form of media for this. This collaboration of art is one of the center pieces in Tico art. Unlike the other artists that participated in his collaboration of work, he stayed in Costa Rica despite the lack of artistic opportunities and later began using other forms of art, including drawing oil and water painting. Later on in his career, Amighetti toured to different countries and his artwork then began international recognition. Amighetti is one of the most influential and important artists of Costa Rica.

National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica- In 1940, the National Symphony Orchestra was created by the Uruguayan director Hugo Mariani and Alfredo Serrano. The orchestra was created with the goal of dedicating its work to , "Promoting classical music, choral singing and lyrical arts and instrumental training" ( the orchestra receives funding from the Ministry of educations as well as National Music Center, a government satellite organization of The Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports. In 1970 with the president Jose Figueres and the Minister of culture began a Musical revolution, which affected the National Symphony Orchestra. With the onset of this new revolution, new goals were inducted into the orchestra that included: Raising the technical level of the performers of the orchestra, purchase of instruments, and organization of an education program for the preparation of instrumentalist of the highest level. Currently, the Orchestra has over seventy performers, 87% of them a product of the orchestras youth program. The orchestras current director is Chosei Komatsu, a Japanese conductor, and has completed a tour in 2005 of Japan and received high reviews for it.

Costa Rica National Symphony Orchestra preforming Leonora #3

National Institute of Music- The National Institute of Music was founded in 1972 with the goal of being a school that provides services to produce quality instrumentalists. Currently the institute has over 800 students between the ages of 4-26. To enter this program, children have to pass a series of tests that are both written and performance. The institute provides education levels equivalent to elementary, intermediate, university and degree programs. While the student is attending the university they can also earn a financial stipend depending on their age and race. The Institute is an extension of the National Symphony Orchestra and many of the graduates from the institute go on to be members of the orchestra. As an extension of the orchestra, it receives funding from the same sources that the orchestra receives.

Children in Costa Rica celebrating their Independence Day in typical song and dance
external image costa-rican-schoolgirls-dance.jpgConclusion- I find that that many aspects of the Tico arts education have mirrored my own arts education while in the United States. In elementary school, I received arts training in the more widely taught forms of art and music. As I progressed through school, the amount and intensity of training increased every year. I am also aware of schools in the United States that specialize in the arts such as Interlochen. These schools offer training in not only the arts, but also meet the basic educational requirements of the state they are located in. The main difference between my experience and that of a Tico child's experience is during the period equivalent to my high school career. I received little real world training for the jobs I am interested in. The Tico child receives training in a particular field that they have shown competence in such as art. While doing research for this project, I was constantly surprised at the efficiency and the advanced level of educational systems Costa Rica had set up. My preconceptions of Costa Rica was that it was underdeveloped country that had barely any urban cities and the minimum amount of education. As proof of this efficient education system, their is a very high literacy rate and over three hundred elementary schools in San Jose alone. I also find it interesting that an individual begins training for their careers while in their mid-teens. Young adults in America find trying to decide on a career to be an overwhelming task that often is decided upon their early to mid twenties and is often changed throughout ones life. We can develop a better arts based education system if we increase our understanding of other cultures and how they allocate their time and money into the arts. Perhaps if we acknowledge these differences, we may be able to give the arts the time and money they deserve.