Performing Arts - audiences 2019-2022 jpg

Theatres are open, audiences are back 

Our statistical yearbook for 2022 has now been published. During the year in review, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and arts funding reform continued to have a significant impact on the sector which was beginning to regain the audience lost as a result of the exceptional circumstances of the past two and a half years. At 2.8 million, the total audience figure for the period in review remains 29 % below pre-pandemic levels. The period did see a positive development, however, with rising numbers of women recorded as employed in previously male dominated roles. The pandemic has fuelled the need for more and better data, and the statistics on the Finnish performing arts sector remain greatly valued by users.   
Theatre Info Finland’s (TINFO) A Year of Theatre, Dance and Circus, the Finnish Performing Arts Statistical Yearbook is now available. Early 2022 continued to see disruption in the form of COVID-19 restrictions, with the last remaining restrictions removed in March. In February, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine sent shockwaves through Finland and the rest of the world, significantly undermining the public’s sense of safety. 
Despite ongoing coronavirus-related disruption continuing to impact the 2022 spring season, Finnish theatre, dance, circus and opera performances attracted a total audience of 2,845,332 (2021: 1,498,847) representing an 89.9% year-on-year rise. Audience numbers currently remain 29% below pre-pandemic levels. A trend, however, is clearly visible: when the theatres open, the audiences will come. 

Progress on gender equality 

In addition to salary data, TINFO has collected statistical information on the gender* of professionals working within the sector from the 2012/2013 season onwards. Data on gender is submitted by all VOS** funding recipients and the Finnish National Theatre. The figures reveal that the gender pay gap continues to persist, with women earning between 92 and 99 cents of every Euro earned by men (technical v creative staff). Following a recent expansion in the number of VOS funding recipients, senior posts within the industry are now less male dominated, with men accounting for 54% of a total of 178 managerial and executive level staff (2021: 57%). 
The programme statistics for 2021/2022 also show progress on gender equality, with this year marking the first time the performers seen on stage were 50% female and 50% male. This is also the first time since statistics have been recorded that, across all VOS funding recipient theatres and the Finnish National Theatre, 50% or more of the works seen on stage were created by women writers and directors. There is also evidence to suggest greater equality and diversity in the process by which works are brought to the stage, with a greater number of works by artistic collectives chosen for inclusion. It is possible that this change too is attributable to the recent changes in Finnish VOS funding arrangements, as the smaller cultural institutions now included within its scope have historically had a track record of delivering greater levels of gender equality. 

Pandemic legacy? 

TINFO has analysed the cancellations and postponements reported by a total of 139 VOS funding recipients and independent theatres for the three years affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021/2022 a total of 49 productions were cancelled. Of these, 19 were world premieres (16 domestic), which equates to the cancellation of a total of 3,534 individual performances. The cancellation of world premiere productions has hit playwrights particularly hard as much of their income is generated through copyright. 
At the early stages of the pandemic, there was much talk of the need for the digital transformation to be extended to the performing arts sector. However, as theatres have reopened and audiences have been able to return to watching live shows, the content available on a streaming basis has fallen to negligible levels. By 2022, just 22 VOS funding recipients and independents (2021: 78) were actively seeking to reach audiences through VOD or live streaming. The number of paid-for viewings fell to 6,656 (2021: 143,481). By contrast, free digital arts content was viewed 1,467,562 times (2021: 674,391), with the majority of this provided by the Finnish National Theatre and Ballet. 
Exceptional times call for exceptional statistics. The data on cancelled and postponed world premieres are only available for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022. Due to the unusual circumstances in which these data points arose, we have made the decision to exclude them from the annual performing arts dataset. Similarly, the VOD and live streaming data have not been included in audience numbers for this period. 
Theatre Info Finland is an independent expert organisation. Since 1995, we have been responsible for compiling the most comprehensive performing arts statistics in the world.  
For further information, please contact: 
Linnea Stara, Director, TINFO, linnea.stara (a), +358 (0)50 3012723 
* For the purposes of programme data, the gender of individuals is inferred from the first names used. Please note that data on pay is differentiated either by sex or by self-identified gender as per the information displayed in the individual’s Finnish personal identity code. 
** Central government funding 

Our data comprise five distinct categories: 

Salaries and pay 
A Year of Theatre, Dance and Circus, the Finnish Performing Arts Statistical Yearbook 2022 is now available to download as a PDF on our website (in Finnish with English summary and the headlines of the tables and charts are also in English) 
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