Labour would use Ofsted inspections to put a greater emphasis on art in schools in England, says the party's leader Ed Miliband.
A future Labour government would widen access to the arts, says Mr Miliband.
Schools would not be graded as "outstanding" unless offering a wide range of arts subjects and "cultural opportunities", says Mr Miliband.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said that arts subjects have already been made more "rigorous".
Mr Miliband says he wants to put "policy for arts and culture and creativity at the heart of the next Labour government's mission".
The need for creative education would be prioritised for inspections.
"Schools will only be able to receive an 'outstanding' rating if they offer creative subjects and cultural opportunities within a broad and balanced curriculum," said Mr Miliband.
There would also be an expectation that creative industries and arts institutions would offer more apprenticeships, "in return for direct grants or major government contracts".
The arts had an important impact on individual lives and on the country's economy, the Labour leader said, in a speech to the Creative Industries Federation.
"The creative industries are our second biggest sector," Mr Miliband said.
But he warned there was insufficient access to the arts in school, pointing to evidence from last week's Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Values.
The report from Warwick University warned that creative subjects were at risk of being squeezed out of schools.
It found that between 2003 and 2013 there had been a 50% drop in GCSE entries for design and technology, 23% for drama and 25% for other craft-related subjects.
And it found that the number of arts teachers in schools had fallen by up to 11%.
The Department for Education had responded to the report by saying that arts subjects were already statutory in primary schools and up to the start of GCSEs.
A spokesman said that the number of pupils taking music and art and design GCSE had risen between 2013 to 2014.
"We are clear that arts education should be every bit as rigorous as the rest of the school curriculum, and we have strengthened the national curriculum in these subjects and reformed the music and art GCSEs and A-levels to make sure this is the case," said a Department for Education spokesman.
The Department for Education said it was providing £109m for 2014-15 to support music, art and cultural education projects - £17m more than the previous year.
Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan said: "Once again Ed Miliband's education policy is in chaos. He has fallen into the trap of drawing an arbitrary divide between arts and science subjects, when the modern world demands that the two should work hand-in-hand.
"That's why, as part of our plan for education, we have given every child the chance to learn subjects like coding that bring the two disciplines together.
"We have also reformed GCSEs in traditional arts subjects like music and art and design to make them more rigorous.
"As a result, thousands more young people are studying these subjects at GCSE and receiving the kind of high-quality arts and cultural education they simply weren't receiving under the last Labour government."