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Estonian theatre in numbers 2019

01.09.2020 12:17

Visiting theatres

1.27 million people visited Estonian theatre performances this year. In 2019, the average number of performances per day
was 19, and the average number of theatregoers was 3489 per day (with an average of 184 viewers per performance). 7 047 performances were given (3 727 of them in Tallinn), and 65,6% of them were on stationary stages. 1 040 144 (81,7%) theatregoers visited theatres in seven theatre towns (with 48,9% of all theatre visits in Tallinn), 198 540 (15,6%) visitors watched performances in counties outside theatre towns and 34 619 or 2,7% viewers saw Estonian performances abroad.

Throughout the years, Estonian theatres have on average performed 10% of their performances abroad. Similarly to the rest of the Estonian theatrical landscape, of the plays performed abroad nearly half (44%) were spoken word performances. 57 productions were performed abroad in 29 different countries. Estonian theatres visited festivals and gave guest performances in theatres in Finland, Russia, Latvia, Norway, Italy, Lithuania, China etc.

Estonian theatre in numbers

An average of 60 companies in Estonia produce new performances each year. 24 theatres and theatre companies received support from the budget of the Ministry of Culture in 2019. These include state subsidised repertory theatres, municipal theatres, non-profit small theatres, foundations and dance companies. 10 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 language theatre. The rest are project-based, private theatres or production houses. With its population of 1.3 million, Estonia has 7 cities or towns that have theatres (Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Viljandi, Rakvere, Narva, Kuressaare). In 2019, there were more than 200 stationary and nonstationary locations for performances.

Financing (All the numbers below are based on Estonian Theatre Statistics 2019, statistika.teater.ee)

Estonian theatres can apply for direct assistance and project based support from the state budget, and it is also possible to apply for funding from the Cultural Endowment of Estonia for financing the staging of productions.

The state support forms 58% of all income for theatres, (in fact, 3% of that support in 2019 was direct investment into the renovation of theatres) the profit that theatres get from selling tickets is on average 23%, and local governments contribute 4%.


The average cost of a ticket has increased each year and with it the ticket sales revenues have increased by 5%. The average cost of a ticketed visit in 2019 was 13.44 euros, which is over 1% of the average monthly wage in Estonia. Across different types of productions, the ticket prices are understandably highest for musicals (18.75 euros) and the lowest for puppet performances (6.3 euros). The average ticket prices were highest for performances targeted at youth – 17.6 euros. The majority of the productions were aimed at adults, for whom the average ticket cost 14.85 euros, with performances for teens slightly lower – 13.92 euros. Ticket prices were lowest for productions made for toddlers and children – 5.17 and 8.75, respectively.

(All the prices are shown without VAT)


In 2019, 610 productions were on repertoire, 222 (36,4 %) of them were new productions. For years, the number of new productions in state and municipal theatres has remained around 100 new productions per year (92 in 2019), with usually about 50% of the repertoire in state theatres, i.e. around 320 per year (314 in 2019). The most active repertoire turnaround was in multiform and dance productions, where new productions made up 58% and 41.7% of the repertoire, respectively. The longest-running productions are in the puppet theatre and among musicals (both 21.7%), whereas spoken word theatre had a repertoire turnover of about 34.3%.

Performances by formNumber of Productions
Puppet and object theatre37
Other (mixed type and circus)77

As previously mentioned, the share of spoken word productions in the total repertoire in 2019 was 63.9%, and 60.4% of all new productions were in spoken word theatre. Among spoken productions, the share of dramas was 71.5%, comedies 23.1%, and others 5.1% (incl. poetic plays).

45.6% of last year’s repertoire was written by Estonian authors. Most foreign authors were from Russia with 41 playwrights represented, followed by Great Britain with 27, both USA and France with 18 authors (Sweden 14, Germany 10, Poland 6, etc). There were 25 countries represented.

The most directed genre in Estonian music theatre is opera, and it is the audience magnet as well (28,1%), however, musicals attracted the largest audience numbers (58,2% of all musical theatre visits).

Within recent years, dance theatre – both modern and classical – has gained more popularity, contemporary dance constitutes 62,7% of the performances, however, 77% of the public prefers classical dance.

In the 2019 repertory for children and teenagers, there were 183 productions, of which 45 were new. There are ten theatres in Estonia for whom part of the targeted audience is constantly children and youth: NUKU Theatre, VAT Theatre, Piip and Tuut Theatre, Theatre Ilmarine, Theatre Tuuleveski, Miksteater, Must Kast, Children’s Theatre Sõber, Banaanikala and Teatribuss. All the other repertory theatres and a few private theatres also produce performances for children and youth, even though their main
target audience is adults.

There were 86 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 2019, of which 49 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.