The government-funded Creative Partnerships scheme promises to "animate the curriculum for young people and and to give teachers the time to explore creative approaches to learning".
The programme will run for two years in 16 pilot areas in England, from Cornwall to the Tees Valley. It will involve 250,000 pupils and teachers, parents and communities.
In each area, 25 schools will work with a creative director appointed by Creative Partnerships to devise ambitious programmes of art, drama, dance and music.
The scheme will also embrace libraries and museums, architecture and design, historic properties and other buildings, and the fashion and film industries.
Peter Jenkinson, national director of Creative Partnerships, said: "There is a widely held view that creativity has been squeezed out of teaching through concentration on the three Rs.
"Many teachers express frustration that they are not able to pursue the most creative approaches to teaching."
He described the scheme as "one of the most significant cultural and education programmes in a generation".
He said teachers will be provided with the time for planning, thinking and evaluation as well as activity. It will build on good practice but will "also offer something genuinely fresh".