The foundation Vaba Lava (Open Space) was established in May 2010 with two aims: firstly to provide opportunities for both established and emerging independent companies in Estonia and secondly to promote international cooperation organizing joint projects, co-productions, workshops, and seminars.
Vaba Lava is the first theatre centre of the kind in Estonia since the concept of a theatre without a resident company is new to us. In Estonia, there are mostly large state subsidised repertoire theatres, plus a number of independent companies, who in spite of making interesting productions and winning awards for artistic accomplishments, are left to a large extent on their own. There are only some indipendent companies who are lucky to have their own stage for performing.
Vaba Lava was founded by 9 independent theatre and dance companies. However, there are more than thirty independent companies in Estonia, many of whom have been operating for more than 20 years, whom we hope to represent and make more competitive.
Vaba Lava aims at offering independent companies both a space for performing and support services as well as serving as a production centre and hotbed for new experimental and unconventional work.
The way the Theatre Centre Vaba Lava is funded and run is unique on the Estonian theatrical landscape, which allows us to be more flexible, open to new ideas and access new knowledge. We only have administrative and technical staff and no resident company of our own. Since our focus is on international cooperation and co-productions and exchange of ideas, we have each year a different team of curators: an international curator and an Estonian assistant curator who choose the projects for the curator programme from the application for the ideas competition. The projects selected by the curators are financed by the foundation Cultural Endowment of Estonia.
The curated programme makes up roughly half of the Vaba Lava programme, whereas various concerts, exhibitions, conferences, media events, guest performances, cinema etc make up the other half.
Every two years we have a different team of curators: an international curator and an Estonian assistant curator who select the productions for the curator’s program.
The construction and running of the Vaba Lava venue is an good example of bringing in new sources of financing for funding public infrastructure in Estonia – it was jointly funded both by the State and the private investor Telliskivi Maja (the Telliskivi Creative City is based 100 per cent on private investments). The Estonian Ministry of Culture provides activities’ support and covers 70% of the rent of the venue, whereas the foundation Cultural Endowment of Estonia finances the Curatored Programme each year.
Vaba Lava wishes to become a venue for young, experimental and innovative performing arts and network with theatres with similar profiles abroad.