The Cooperativa de Ensino Superior Artístico do Porto is a non-profit institution with Public Utility Status, which holds two private and cooperative higher education schools:

Escola Superior Artística do Porto
(ESAP), which provides universitary education.

Escola Superior Artística de Guimarães
(ESAG), which provides polytechnic education.


The roots of CESAP are founded on the Árvore, Porto Cooperative of artistic activities, created in the early sixties of the last century. In addition to the avant-garde in the field of artistic management and dynamization, the Árvore pioneered the creation of advanced artistic courses, the first of Private and Cooperative Higher Education sector.

The Árvore alternative pedagogical project was born in 1981, after the dissidence of the ERA group (by Eduardo Calvet de Magalhães, Rolando Sá Nogueira and Arnaldo Araújo) from the Oporto School of Fine Arts. This occurred in the sequence of the First Iberian Meeting of Superior Schools and Faculties of Fine Arts, an initiative of the Painter Júlio Resende, and where the problem of artistic higher education was debated.

The philosophy underlying the Árvore alternative project places all the higher artistic courses in the same level of cultural importance

and conceptualizes an education based on the "unity and diversity, experimentation and openness to innovation, learning instead of teaching, organization as an act of intelligence instead of bureaucracy, coexistence against indifference, concern for individual problems, ... artistic daring within the scientific rigor .... Democratic life, ecological number of students, accept that all parts are equal and nothing is definitive, intergenerational coexistence, fight against pedagogical prejudices, to consider that the School is life, not the preparation for life ... " (in Árvore das Virtudes, E. Calvet de Magalhães, 2001, pp 53-54).

In 1982, due to legal requirements, two educational cooperatives were established autonomously from the Árvore artistic cooperative: The Cooperativa de Ensino Superior Artístico Árvore I (CESAA I) and the Cooperativa de Ensino Polivalente Artístico Árvore II. The two cooperatives acquired in 1983 the Casa de Virtudes building, where they started to operate all their courses. In it, the Painter Júlio Resende produced the Ribeira Negra panel.

The recognition of this innovative art education project was quickly witnessed by successive visits by Ministers, State Secretaries and the President of the Republic, and by the compliments of the António Sérgio Institute, the North Region Coordination Commission, and the Mayor of Porto, who awarded the institution with the Medal of Merit in 1989.

It was thus natural to create a School Extension in Guimarães, which began its activity in 1983/84, at the premises of the Associação Cultural e Recreativa Convívio. From the academic year of 1984/85 onwards, the School moved to the present premises,

on the outskirts of the Historic Centre of the city, occupying an old building with an architecture originally designed to function as a school.

In 1989, the CESAA I revised its statutes and changed its name, adopting the current designation - Cooperativa de Ensino Superior Artístico do Porto - CESAP (Portaria 830/89 de 20/09/1989; DR, I Série, no. 217). In parallel, the school is endowed with administrative, pedagogical, scientific and artistic autonomy, and acquires the current designation - Escola Superior Artística do Porto (ESAP).

The ESAP’s growth forced the CESAP to expand its school spaces. Faithful to the strategic option of staying in the historic centre of Porto (World Heritage site), the building of S. Domingos was acquired in 1992, and the Palace of Belomonte in 2001. Confined with these, the buildings of Mouzinho da Silveira and of the Comércio of Porto were acquired later.

Aiming to provide the Guimarães extension with autonomy and within the applicable legal framework, it was undertaken the necessary procedure that led in 2015 to the recognition of its public interest, the approval of the respective statutes, and the current designation - Escola Superior Artística de Guimarães (ESAG).

Aware of the artistic higher education transformations framework, CESAP has been developing actions to offer new courses, to support the artistic and scientific production and research of its teachers, to establish new partnerships and to promote the internationalization of its schools. We are thus prepared to face, as a cooperative and in a rigorous and creative way, the new challenges that the future holds for us.