On November 13, 2019, a round table called “Symphony 2030: Creative Arts Education for Inclusion” was held in the margins of the 40th General Conference of the United Nations, which took place at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, virtually in front of its global community of 193 member states.

The event, the key topic of which was the importance of art education in social inclusion and cohesion, was organized by the Andrea Bocelli Foundation in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, during a day that was filled with significant moments for both institutions. In fact, ABF and UNESCO signed a memorandum of understanding at the same time, with the aim of collaborating on music education projects as empowerment tools that will be announced in the coming months, starting with Mali. The initiatives will be based on UNESCO’s experience in leading education projects to provide psychological and social support to countries affected by disasters and conflicts, in line with the Seoul Agenda on arts education.

In the presence of our founder, who was interviewed by UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education (and former Italian Minister for Education) Stefania Giannini for the occasion, “Symphony 2030” – which was also enhanced by the participation of ABF’s Chair Stefano Aversa and President Laura Biancalani – aims to showcase, through the voices of artists, educators and experts, how culture and arts education unlocks students’ potential to gain confidence, understand the world better and embrace values of peace, dialog and solidarity.

The core of the initiative is the idea – which is near and dear to both ABF and UNESCO – that in today’s rapidly evolving world, the humanistic dimension of education represents an essential compass for the future, as creative arts education is being increasingly recognized as a medium for conveying values and skills.

“Education is clearly the main objective of governments, and no charitable organization can replace them – stressed Chair Aversa –. However, we can complement them and that is what ABF is proposing, through its mission of empowering people and communities. Indeed, education is the first step towards empowerment, from basic education to its high levels”.

The integration of arts education within formal and non-formal education provides an enriched learning environment, especially for the most vulnerable children and young people, by promoting dialog and exchange and by supporting stability and reconstruction efforts in vulnerable communities.

The Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO Ernesto Ottone Ramírez, the Secretary-General of the Korean National Commission for UNESCO Kwangho Kim, the head teacher of Escola do Jardim do Monte, a UNESCO ASPNet school in Portugal, Leonor Malik, the Associate Director for Policy at J-PAL Europe Cillian Nolan, UNESCO Artist for Peace Eijin Nimura, and “Voices of Haiti” Artistic Director Malcolm J. Merriwather, as well as the co-founder and co-director of ARtolution Max Frieder, all took part in “Symphony 2030”.

Andrea Bocelli had an engaging public conversation with Stefania Giannini, yet not without delighting the audience with his performance of two songs (significantly, a version of Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and the hymn “Amazing Grace”). During this conversation, he emphasized the extent to which music is a flexible and important element that supports formal education: in addition to offering a real opportunity to highlight, increase and develop the specific talent of the individual, the study and practice of music are actually precious educational opportunities all round. Music is – de facto – a practice with strong interdisciplinary effects. It offers the possibility of becoming aware of the discipline, responsibility and commitment required to achieve any result.

ABF strongly agrees with Andrea Bocelli’s words, namely that music teaching can be crucial and represents an agent of great acceleration, regarding the achievement of Agenda 2030’s goal 4.7.  As is well known, this goal strives for sustainable development and lifestyles, which are also ensured thanks to education. Education that aims to promote peace and enhance cultural diversity.

“That is why – said Maestro Bocelli – I am particularly pleased to be here tonight to also ratify the memorandum of understanding that my Foundation has just signed with UNESCO, which – as we are well aware – guides the supportive actions for the sustainable objective of quality education, which will see us develop joint projects together, in which music is both the vehicle and a support to formal education. Furthermore, I believe that our collaboration will be particularly important in areas of the world where, given the geopolitical and social complexity, art is at risk of being perceived as a luxury, instead of an opportunity and tool for overcoming our limits and conveying messages of peaceful coexistence”.

In Italy, on the other hand, ABF has worked to introduce best practices in music education as part of the official curriculum for schools built by the Foundation after the earthquake that struck central Italy in 2016 (Sarnano 2018, Muccia 2019, Camerino 2020). More recently, in November 2019, the “Alessandro Bocelli” Zerosei Center in Lajatico, Tuscany, the hometown of Maestro Bocelli, adopted the same methodology.