The Ecosystem of Finnish Theatre
The Finnish theatre and performing arts industry is made up of state subsidized theatres, companies and national art institutions, publicly funded and non-profit city theatres, as well as of a wide range of independent theatres, dance and circus companies and production houses. In addition, there is a vibrant amateur scene as well as commercial theatres that are not included in TINFO’s statistics. Helsinki is the central theatre district along with Tampere and Turku.
The cultural funding bill, which came into force in 1993 secures a regionally comprehensive network of theatres. There are however considerable variations in financial structures. In general, theatres make up their revenues from the state (through the Ministry of Education, or the Arts Promotion Centre), local government and private funding (through foundations) as well as from ticket sales. There is a greater variation in the sources of income and a higher share of self-generated revenue within the free groups in comparison to those of state funded theatres.
Theatre is a labour-intensive sector. Personnel expenses make up the largest share of the theatres’ total expenses, while theatres that own their venues have relatively high property costs. Therefore, economic pressures and a reliance on box office revenue will often encourage risk-averse artistic decisions.
The vast majority of the large theatres in Finland are repertory theatres with a permanent ensemble. However, the large theatre institutions are offering a decreasing number of permanent contracts for artists. Open-ended employment contracts are giving way to fixed-term contracts, as the theatres are relying more and more on self-employed artists and designers. Aside from regularly employing freelancers, the state-subsidized theatres will also from time to time collaborate with independent groups and companies. Independent groups and companies have traditionally only had intermittently employed personnel. Across the board, among all theatre professions, there are a growing number of self-employed professionals.
The numbers of female playwrights, directors and roles available for female actors are more or less the same as those presented during the previous year. Plays by women and performances directed by women are mostly staged in smaller venues than those written and directed by men. Work generated through collective processes within mix-gender groups are on the rise.
The average salary for a female employee at a Finnish theatre is 199,16 euros less than the average for a male.
It is possible to identify both horizontal and vertical job segregations: women and men are still predominantly engaged in gender-specific professions, whereas men dominate in higher-paid professions (as company directors and the like).
The structure of Finnish theatre repertoires has remained somewhat stable. City theatres function as repertory theatres that offer a variety of productions. New writing continues to be at the heart of Finnish theatre. Newly written Finnish plays and adaptations make up more than half of all theatre productions annually.
The repertory profiles of the city theatres and those of independent theatre and performing arts companies differ from each other. Devised performances and other nonmainstream forms and genres (including e.g. puppetry, avant-garde productions, site-specific and socially engaged practices) dominate the repertoires of independent groups and companies, whereas musicals have an important role in city theatre repertoires.
Collaborations between theatres are increasing. There are both “in-house” theatre production models as well as models for collaborative resource sharing.
There are regional variations in attendance, with Helsinki and the capital area dominating the statistics. However, regions with lower attendance figures in respect to professional theatres, usually have a vibrant amateur scene.
There is currently no data on the diversity of audience attendance in regard to ethnicity, disability or socio-economic background.
Regional theatres with mandated touring activity are playing an important role in the regions of Lapland, Kainuu, Northern Carelia and South-West Finland. Independent groups have supplemented the touring networks in these regions. The mobility of these theatres and groups increases regional democracy, equality and the accessibility of theatre.
In addition, audience development has become a major force within the field in recent years and is now accessible to larger audiences.
View the publication Performing arts statistics. Theatre, dance and circus in 2019.