The Vaba Lava theater in Narva has been closed for financial reasons since October, and performances have been suspended.
The theater's board and council announced in September that they required additional funding of €140,000 to keep the foundation alive through to the end of this year. As the Ministry of Culture did not provide this funding, the theater has temporarily closed its doors, continuing only with rehearsals and amateur dramatics. All the performances in the schedule for the rest of this year have been postponed to 2022.
Narva Vaba Lava says it has repeatedly drawn attention to underfunding issues. The main problem, it is reported, is that Vaba Lava operates two theater houses in two different cities - Tallinn and Narva, but only receive support to maintain one house.
"Maybe it's not clear what we have done there. We are trying to explain it to the public. Maybe we have not explained enough. We have launched the first Estonian-language hobby groups, we have held 14 premieres there [in Narva], we have welcomed visiting theaters. In fact, there has been a lot of such activities," Märt Meos, Vaba Lava director says.
The Ministry of Culture has confirmed that the continuation of professional theater activities in Narva is a priority for the state. As a new solution, the ministry proposed the creation of a new foundation, which will also receive permanent funding. The new foundation would include the Narva Vaba Lava and Sakala Theater in Tallinn.
"This foundation would bring together the responsibilities and assets of the Sakala Theater House and Narva Vaba Lava. This is the original idea. Because the watchword for Vaba Lava was that the desire is for a stable funding model. On the other hand, it seemed an opportunity to combine the most optimal," Laur Kaunissaare, Theater Adviser at the Ministry of Culture, said.
The director of Vaba Lava said that Narva needs an independent theater. "There are a lot of problems, and in fact, the theater can help a lot there. I personally feel that the theater is much more efficient and much more welcome there than in many other Estonian cities. These warm receptions and applause, I believe that we are the theater changed over the last three years," Meos added.
Meos says they are open to cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and may consider establishing a new foundation if Vaba Lava becomes one of the founders of the foundation.
Editor: Roberta Vaino