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The mission of the Estonian Amateur Theatre Association (Eesti Harrastusteatrite Liit / EHL) is to support the development of intellectual and creative values and to increase the application of those values through theatrical arts. The Association has 68 groups as members and no individual members.
There are approximately 425 amateur groups in Estonia. In Estonia, we have school theatres, children’s theatres, amateur theatres, Russian-speaking theatres, theatre groups for people with disabilities, puppetry theatres, student theatres etc.
The Estonian Amateur Theatre Association does not only take care of its own members, but coordinates and organizes amateur groups for youth and adults all over Estonia. The amateur theatres exchange directors and actors with each other. It is also a normal practice that groups hire professional directors for their productions. Most amateur theatre directors do not have a theatre education. A typical group puts on one play each year. The preparation time is approximately three months with rehearsals one or two times a week.
The Association coordinates festivals, education, national and international events. It also organizes courses for actors, directors, teachers who work with children, theatre technical workers and also stage designers (sound, light, stage, costume, make-up). The courses take place all over the country. There are also courses without fees. The Association coordinates the mentor program with the Estonian Centre of Folk Culture. Mentor programmes focus on actors or directors’ education.
Every summer the Association organizes a summer school for actors and directors.
Professional theatre education for amateur theatre directors is offered at University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy. The theatre studies programme in Viljandi accepts students biennially, and offers specializations in acting, directing and amateur theatre directing.
The Estonian Amateur Theatre Association receives support from the Estonian Centre of Folk Culture, which is the strategic partner of the Ministry of Culture of Estonia. The support covers administration costs, i.e. salaries, tax and rent. The Association receives support for its activities through project financing. The biggest contributor is the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.
The Estonian Amateur Theatre Association is a 30-year-old NGO. The board consists of 6 people who are elected for 3 years at the annual national member meeting. The CEO of the organization is Kristiina Oomer.