From permanent positions to visiting jobs: The changing working culture in Finnish theatres

Marjatta Häti-Korkeila, Laura Gröndahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The transition to a freelance employment policy from permanent working contracts has had various repercussions on artistic practices in Finnish theatres. This article examines the changes that have taken place in the working culture of statutory funded institutional theatre since the early 1990s, focusing on the shifting roles and positions of directors, dramaturges, producers, and artistic managers. The research material consists of theatre statistics, interviews, and public discussions in the theatre field presented mainly in trade magazines and seminar minutes. Although the theatres still have a significant number of permanently employed artists, the percentage of short-term visits has steadily increased. This goes especially for directors and dramaturges, who mainly focus only on their own productions and do not participate in the long-term development of the theatres' repertoires or artistic strategies as a whole. It is hard to create ongoing ensemble work and a spirit of a working community when a significant part of the artistic staff keeps constantly changing. In small and medium-sized theatres, the managers are now responsible for the artistic leadership without any collegial support of permanently engaged directors and dramaturges. They usually have to direct plays or undertake dramaturgical work without compensation, even if they do not have a proper education or experience in that field. In the changing economic conditions, the role of a producer has gained importance in planning and leading theatre activities and production work. This puts more emphasis on organizational, financial, and marketing issues than previously. Current priorities are now focused on a high standard of artistic programming and the nurturing of public interest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-114
Number of pages26
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Finnish institutional theatre
  • Freelance work
  • Theatre management
  • Theatre professions
  • Working culture


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