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The Estonian theatre statistics of the year 2021 show that the COVID-19 restrictions influenced the Estonian theatre sphere more than in 2020. Nevertheless, the multitude of theatre makers and new productions indicates an active attempt to adapt and quickly return to the former growth. Although the situation was complicated, the theatres gave their best to adjust to the new environment. In comparison to 2019, the number of performances dropped 32 percent in 2021. Due to the implementation of immunization passports and the 50 percent audience restriction for theatre halls, the number of visitors also decreased 48.9 percent.

As a brief summary, it should be noted that Estonian theatres welcomed 651 097 visitors, and gave 4790 performances in 2021. The repertoire included 571 productions, including 211 new productions.

On average, Estonian theatres gave 19 performances a day, and hosted 136 visitors per performance. Therefore, more than 2500 people visited Estonian theatres per day in 2021. For comparison: on average, 19 performances were also given per day and 151 visitors gained per performance in 2020 and 2019.

In 2019 and 2020, 65 different institutions presented their data for the theatre statistics, while in 2021, the number of institutions rose to 83. The amount of theatre makers has thus increased, and the number of new productions per year was restored, but the visitor numbers dropped due to the COVID-19-induced emergency situation: all theatres were closed for 82 days. Most of Estonia had 254 days for giving performances in 2021, and the counties Ida-Virumaa and Harjumaa (including Tallinn) even less, 223 days.

Theatres with state or municipal budgets produced 72 new shows in 2021 (the number had previously declined from 92 to 65 in 2020). The production ratio between theatres with state or municipal budgets and private theatre companies however remained: out of the 571 productions in repertoire, 48.9 percent (51.5% in 2019) belonged to the former and 51.1 percent to the latter.

The theatres with the largest visitor numbers were yet again Estonian Drama Theatre (62 972; 799 visitors less than in 2020), Vanemuine (55 266; 24 740 visitors less) and Estonia (55 262; 26 413 visitors less). Only Estonian Drama Theatre managed to maintain the number of visitors at a similar level to 2020, while others lost around 25 000 visitors per theatre. The 11 theatres with state or municipal budgets had 387 324 visits in total, that is 116 427 less than a year earlier (503 751). The overall difference in theatre visits between the years 2020 and 2021 is not however too significant, as the private theatre companies increased their number of visits by 40 698 in 2021, therefore decreasing the total loss of visits from 116 thousand to 76 thousand. Among private companies, the highest visitor numbers were seen at Vana Baskin Theatre (29 030), followed by Tartu New Theatre (15 535), Pootsi Winery (13 956), and SKENE katus kunstile (11 502).

Large visitor number were often guaranteed thanks to certain productions. The most popular productions were Lehman Brothers by Estonian Drama Theatre (41 shows, 15 481 visits), Serafima+Bogdan by Tartu New Theatre (19 / 11 000), and Vana klaver ehk Suusabaasis on tantsupidu by Thors Productions (8 / 10 000). The last-mentioned production also holds the record for the most viewers per performance in 2021, as 1250 people visited each show on average. The three most popular productions were followed by Professor sai värske õhu mürgituse by Vana Baskin Theatre (45 / 9939) and 40 by Märt Avandi (26 / 9648). More than eight thousand visits were also made to the following productions: Lumeroos by Vana Baskin Theatre, Nunnad hoos by Theatre Vanemuine, Eramaa by Pootsi Winery, and Midagi ikka by Lavahunt (Kall and Pius).

In 2021, 25 theatres received funding support from the government, and in addition, the government also supported four theatres in covering their costs and projects. Municipal funding (in different amounts) was given to 16 theatres with state or municipal budgets and private theatre companies, mostly as a project funding or to cover administrative and other costs. Funding to cover the cost of labor was given to Tallinn City Theatre, Kuressaare Theatre, Tuuleveski, and Paide Theatre by the local governement. The largest sponsor was of course the city of Tallinn, but the local governments in Tartu, Kuressaare, and Paide also contributed to the operation of their local theatres. What is more, smaller project fundings were given out by the local governments in Põlva, Pärnu, Rakvere, and Jõhvi.

Likewise to the professional theatres, the 42 amateur theatres did also not show any signs of diminishing in 2021. Out of the 100 productions in repertoire, 60 were new, which is more than in 2020. Moreover, the number of visits increased by three thousand, reaching 16 476.

It must be however stressed that the visitor numbers mentioned do not include online visits. Broadcasts from performances or live virtual performances were presented by 13 theatres with 25 productions, hosting 8725 viewers (47 104 in 2020). Anne lahkub Annelinnast by Tartu New Theatre welcomed the most visitors: 1825. The interest in live virtual theatre has still not completely disappeared, as it is still searching for its place in the theatre sphere. Many theatres have also moved some of their events – lectures, seminars, artist talks, workshops, play readings – to online environments, thus reaching a wider audience.

Including the festivals, concerts, balls, movie nights, lecture series, workshops, and performances, the Estonian theatres held 5100 events in 2021 and welcomed 753 718 visitors (plus the 70 204 online visits).

The data of the Estonian theatre statistics in 2021 was published in the chronicle chapter of the yearbook Teatrielu 2021. In addition to the statistics, the chronicle includes an overview of Estonian theatre organizations, festivals and events in 2021.

Read more from the statistics database.