History and Mission

Conservatório Nacional | 1950/1951

1 – The Lisbon Theatre and Film School (Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema) was set up in Lisbon by Decree-Law nr. 310/83, dated July 1 (1983). The object of this legal document was to reconvert the Conservatório Nacional, the centenary and prestigious establishment of artistic education, and the setting up of several new establishments offering degrees in the same artistic areas as the Conservatório, among which this school, specifically directed at drama and cinema education.

Drama Education had a long tradition in the Conservatório: it went back to the date of its creation in 1836, by Decree of Queen Maria II, in the scope of a Plan for the foundation and organisation of a National Theatre proposed by João Baptista de Almeida Garrett, then still called Conservatório Geral de Arte Dramática and formed by three Schools: Escola Dramática ou de Declamação for drama education, Escola de Música for music education (integrating the former Conservatório de Música, set up in Casa Pia by Decree of 1835) and Escola de Dança, Mímica e Ginástica Especial for dance, mime arts and especial gymnastics education.

Diário do Governo | November 17, 1836

By later reforms, the name of the Conservatório was changed, first to Conservatório Real de Lisboa and then, already under the new republican regime, to Conservatório Nacional, the name of the Escola Dramática ou de Declamação being altered to Escola de Arte de Representar.

On July 4, 1914, the Escola de Arte de Representar was for the first time granted management autonomy.

By Decree dated May 19, 1914, the scenography and setting design degree was set up in this school (to be taught “in the big paintings room of the Teatro Nacional Almeida Garrett which, functioning under the Escola de Arte de Representar”, would exclusively “be at the service andpractices of the corresponding teacher”); by Decree of August 6, 1914, the costume designer degree was also set up.

All this traditional concern for dramatic education was kept and developed under later reforms and is still very present today  in the degrees offered by the Departamento de Teatro da Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema.

As for Cinema Education, the corresponding degree was only set up in Conservatório Nacional after 1971, on a pedagogic experimental basis, in the scope of the reform process undertaken by Madalena Perdigão, in the time of Minister Veiga Simão.

By that time, the Escola Piloto para a Formação de Profissionais de Cinema was created and its first degree initiated in 1973. From the beginning, a deep concern of this school has been to complement the technical knowledge necessary to cinema-linked professions with a more artistic component.

The degree being offered today by the Departamento de Cinema da Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema has gone through an evolution since 1973 but its philosophy is still the same as that of the first degree which, it should be stressed, was very much of a pioneer in Portuguese public higher education.

2 – By governmental Decree nr. 46/85, of November 22 (1985), the Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema - that had so far been under the Direcção-Geral do Ensino Superior and, since 1983, managed by an Organisation Committee formed by Pofessors Jorge Synek Listopad, President, and José Bogalheiro, member – was integrated in the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, a public polytechnic higher education establishment created by Decree-Law nr. 513-T/79, of December 26 (1979).

The Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema became then an organic unit of the Polytechnic Institute of Lisbon (IPL), still in a process of internal organisation by the mentioned Committee until the publication of its Statutes in Diário da República, 2ª Série, nr. 15, of January 18, 1995.

3 – When totally new premises were built in Amadora, within the greater Lisbon area, for the Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema (the first building ever constructed in Portugal specifically to host a public artistic higher education establishment), it was finally possible to move from the old Convento dos Caetanos, in Lisbon, where Almeida Garrett´s Conservatório Geral de Arte Dramática had provisionally functioned, to modern premises designed to have adequate teaching rooms, studios, performing areas, library and cafeteria, all of which offer the best working conditions for its students.

The bi-departmental structure of the School, a historical heritage from the previous schools of Drama and of Cinema of the Conservatório Nacional, led to a certain pedagogic-scientific autonomy granted to the two Departments, according to the Statutes.

The Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema has steadily been asserting itself as a reference school both at national and international level, and it has been integrated in relevant international organisations dealing not only with the specific areas concerned, like the International Institute of Theatre (IIT)/UNESCO Chair, the CILECT – Centre International de Liaison des Écoles de Cinema et de Telévision – and the GEECT – Groupement Européen d´Écoles de Cinema et Telévision), but also with Arts in general, which are the cases of ELIA – European League of Institutes of Arts and École des Écoles.

This international cooperation concern also led to efforts made to strengthen the School´s active participation in teacher and student intercourse programmes, within specific programmes, like the Erasmus+, as well as bilateral agreements with Universities of Latin America (Brazil, Argentina, Mexico).

4 – The objectives of the Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema, according to its Statutes, are:
- Training of highly qualified professionals;
- Research activities;
- Artistic experiments and production;
- Launching or participation in development projects;
- Community involvement.

To consistently fulfil these objectives, the School has adjusted its educational provision to the Bologne Process, its two Departments offering first and second level Degrees (Licenciatura and Master´s); it set up a Research Centre which is developing projects in partnership with a similar Centre in Universidade do Algarve; it participates in educational development programmes at local level, as for instance the programme for curriculum improvement activities in public basic schools in the Amadora municipality, and annually produces and organises, in its own premises as well as in Theatres, Museums, Portuguese Cinematheque and other public spaces, numbers of performances and exhibitions of its students´ dramatic and cinema practical works, attendance to all events being free to the community.