Although the field of art education has, in recent years, acknowledged the prevalence of non-formal educational sites, our literature is divided on whether this trend poses an opportunity for cooperation and strength or a threat to the status of art as a school subject. This paper consults the literature of critical theory within the domains of art, education, and leisure studies in order to examine the relationship between formal and non-formal art education. First, it considers ways in which tradition conceptualizations of art, education, leisure, and work foster an acceptance of art as experience and knowledge to be gained outside of school. Second, it explores the notions of lifelong learning and education, which are frequently offered as umbrellas under which school and community-based art education can peacefully co-exist. The paper suggests that neither an uncritical call for cooperation nor a more entrenched territoriality between formal and non-formal institutions is likely to serve the future interests of art education. Rather, a complex problem is revealed which requires a reconceptualization of education, a consideration of values surrounding democratic access to knowledge, and a challenge to work toward more egalitarian institutional and social structures.
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