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Estonian theatre in numbers 2017

01.09.2018 12:14

Visiting theatres

In 2017, the average number of performances per day was 18, and the average number of theatregoers was 3189 per day
(with an average of 173,4 viewers per performance). 6713 performances were given (3483 of them in Tallinn), and
68% of them were on stationary stages. 980 724 (86%) theatregoers visited theatres in seven theatre towns (with 52% of all theatre visits in Tallinn), 143 186 (12%) visitors watched performances in rural areas counties (and 40 048 or 3,4% viewers saw Estonian performances abroad). 59 productions were performed abroad in 24 different countries. Estonian theatres visited festivals and gave guest performances in theatres in Finland, Russia, Germany, China, France, Sweden, Great Britain, etc.

Theatres in Estonia

Today there are on average 50 companies in Estonia that produce new performances each year. 26 theatres and theatre companies in Estonia receive support from the budget of the Ministry of Culture. These include state subsidised repertory theatres, municipal theatres, non-profit small theatres, foundations and dance companies. 11 of them have stationary repertories (incl. one with three genres – spoken-music-dance theatre, and one with two genres – music-dance theatre). This number also includes Russian theatre. The rest are project-based, private theatres or production houses.

There are 7 cities or towns in Estonia that have theatres (Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Viljandi, Rakvere, Narva, Kuressaare). In 2017, there were more than 190 stationary and non-stationary locations for performances. Estonian amateur theatre is well developed and provides high-level entertainment. There are up to 500 amateur theatre groups (incl. Russian, school, student theatres and handicap theatre groups) in Estonia.

Financing (All the numbers below are based on Estonian Theatre Statistics 2017)

Estonian theatres receive direct support from the state budget, and it is also possible to apply for funding from the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and the Gambling Tax Council for financing the staging of plays. The state support forms 70% of all income for theatres, (in fact, 30% of that support in 2017 was direct investment into the renovation of several large theatres) the profit that theatres get from selling tickets is on average 16%, and local governments contribute 3%.


In 2017, 559 productions were staged, 204 (36,5 %) of them were new productions. Estonian authors wrote 43% of the plays in last year’s repertory. Most foreign authors were from Great Britain with 38 playwrights represented, followed by Russia with 32, USA with 29 and France with 21 authors (Sweden 16, Germany 11, Finland 9, Lithuania 2, Latvia 1). The most preferred genre of the spoken performances was drama with 70%, followed by comedy with 23%, tragicomedy was only 4% and 3% were poetry performances.

Performance formNumber of Productions
Puppet and object theatre38
Other (mixed type and circus)80

There were 76 summer productions (performed from the end of May until the end of August, mostly outside of the theatre buildings, in nature, parks, manors or farm houses, castles, etc.) in 2017, of which 37 were new productions. Summer theatre performances have become very popular, and their numbers are increasing every summer. They are produced by both repertory theatres and projects brought together especially for summer performances.

The most directed genre in Estonian music theatre is opera, and it is the audience magnet as well, however, musicals attracted the largest audience numbers (49% of all musical theatre visits). Within recent years, dance theatre – both modern and classical –
has gained more popularity, contemporary dance constitutes 65% of the performances, however, 70% of the public prefers classical dance.

In the 2017 repertory for children and teenagers, there were 123 productions, of which 36 were new. There are six theatres in Estonia whose target audience is mainly for children and youth. All the other repertory theatres and a few private theatres also produce performances children and youth, even though their main target audience is adults.