Vaba Lava will relocate this year from its current location in Tallinn's Telliskivi Creative City, where it has been functioning since 2014. A decision will be made by the end of the summer on one of three prospective new venues for the theater.
Allan Kaldoja, chair of the Vaba Lava supervisory board, said that the theater's seven-year lease with the property owner expired last fall. A one-year extension was granted and negotiations the continued.
"Unfortunately, we were unable to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. Then, we decided to move forward. This is a beneficial opportunity for the theater to periodically regain its vitality," he said.
Vabal Lava has agreed to continue operations with Telliskivi until the end of the current season or until the end of May.
"We are looking for a new location for the theater for the next five to seven years. Because our theater is so dynamic and stimulates positive change, we do not want to have permanent premises. There was just the F-hoone venue/restaurant and a flea market in Telliskivi when we arrived. Since our arrival, the area has become one of Tallinn's most vibrant entertainment and cultural districts and I believe that our theater has played a small role in that," Kaldoja said, adding that over 500,000 people have passed through the theater in the nine years that they have been in their current location.
Vaba Lava is currently in talks with a number of potential new locations. "Each is special in some way but they are so distinct that we are having difficulties making a decision. We hope to reach a conclusion by the end of summer," he said.
The theater hopes to move into its new home in the fall of 2024. Kaldoja said that there are three Tallinn locations among the alternatives, none of which he can comment on at this moment. "One is a well-established cultural sanctuary, another is a well-established but still developing cutting-edge commercial and entertainment district, and the third is just getting started with a new life," he explained.
A number of circumstances led to the closure of Vaba Lava's Telliskivi premises, such as the pandemic that had forced many theaters to close. Kaldoja said that the building's owner was overly optimistic in his rental wishes, but the relationship with the owner improved over time and the rent was acceptable during the pandemic. He said that even once Vaba Lava leaves, the location should remain a hub of cultural activity.
Editor: Barbara Oja, Kristina Kersa