InSEA formally came into being with the adoption of its constitution at the First General Assembly held in Paris in July 1954. Read opened the meeting with an address entitled ‘The Future of Art Education’ – certainly not the last time such a title has been used at InSEA congresses. The preamble to the Constitution (which in the intervening years has only been subject to minor amendments) reveals the idealism of the founding members of InSEA and their belief that:
- Education through art is a natural means of learning at all periods of the development of the individual, fostering values and disciplines essential for full intellectual, emotional and social development of human beings in a community;
- Association on a worldwide basis of those concerned with education through art is necessary in order that they may share experiences, improve practices and strengthen the position of art in relation to all education;
- Co-operation with those concerned in other disciplines of study outside the teaching profession and domains of education would be of mutual advantage in securing closer co-ordination of activities directed to solving problems in common;
- International co-operation and the better understanding between peoples would be furthered by a more completely integrated design and permanent structure for the diffusion of beliefs and practices concerning education through art, so that the right of man [sic] ‘freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts’ and to create beauty for himself in reciprocal relationship with his environment, would become a living reality.
- In a spate of initial enthusiasm InSEA embarked on an ambitious programme that included preparing recommendations on the teaching of art in primary and secondary schools addressed to the ministries of education of all UNESCO members. A large international touring exhibition of children’s art was assembled for UNESCO and sets of colour transparencies of children’s work were distributed internationally. An international list of resource material was compiled and later extended and InSEA published regular newsletters. A key ambition was to encourage the establishment of National Committees of InSEA with a view to the Society becoming a federation of such organisations. Plans were laid for the Second General Assembly that took place in The Hague in August 1957. Not for the last time the difficulties of organising and financing a World Congress became apparent.