EHL (Estonian Amateur Theatre Association) is a 30-year-old NGO. The board consists of 6 persons who are elected for 3 years at the annual national member meeting. The board members for 2023-2026 are:
MTÜ KaRakTer Rakvere Näitetrupp
EHL has two employees: executive director and a part-time bookkeeper.
Of the 15 counties in Estonia, EHL has amateur theatre curators in 10 (Ida-Virumaa, Lääne-Virumaa, Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Raplamaa, Jõgevamaa, Pärnumaa, Viljandimaa, Valgamaa, Harjumaa). The curators in each county share organizational and relevant information to all active theatre groups in the area.
The mission of EHL is to support the development of intellectual and creative values and to increase the application of those values through theatrical arts.
- EHL creates possibilities for experiencing and appreciating culture and language
- EHL is open to various types of cooperation, nationally and internationally
- EHL works on developing the limits of theatre and supports the implementation of new theatre forms
- EHL supports communication between people in various theatre spheres
- EHL supports creative will and freedom for members of the organisation
Relation to the state
EHL receives support from the Estonian Centre of Folk Culture who is the strategic partner of the Ministry of Culture of Estonia. The support covers administration costs, i.e. salaries, tax and rental. EHL receives support for activities through project financing. The biggest contributor is the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.
Members of the organization
EHL has 68 groups as members and no individual members. The groups pay a contingency of 20 €.
There are approx. 425 amateur groups in Estonia. In Estonia, we have school theatres, children’s theatres, amateur theatres, Russian-speaking theatres, theatre groups for people with disabilities, puppet theatres, student theatres etc.
EHL does not only take care of its own members, but coordinates and organizes amateur groups for youth and adults all over Estonia. In Estonia, the amateur theatres exchange directors and actors between each other. It is also a normal practice that groups hire professional directors for their productions. Most amateur theatre directors do not have a theatre education. A typical traditional group makes one play each year. The preparation time is approximately three months with rehearsals one or two times a week.
Function and organisation of EHL
EHL coordinates festivals, education and national and international events.
EHL organizes courses for actors, directors, teachers who work with children, theatre technical workers and also stage designers (sound, light, stage, costume, make-up). The courses take place all over the country. There are also courses without fees. EHL coordinates the mentor program with Estonian Centre of Folk Culture. Mentor programs focus on actors or directors’ education.
Every summer EHL organizes a summer school for actors and directors.
Professional theatre education for amateur theatre directors is offered at University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy. The theatre studies program in Viljandi accepts students biennially, and offers specializations in acting, directing and amateur theatre directing.
EHL organizes national festivals for school theatres (from three different age groups) every year.
EHL organizes poetry reading contests for young people every year.
EHL organizes national festivals for all amateur theatres every year.
Every second year we have our most important national festival for amateur theatres. Every theatre group sends a video of the performance and a selection committee will choose 15 to 20 performances to take part in the festival.
In addition, there are yearly festivals for student theatres, theatres for people with disabilities, teacher’s theatre groups, etc.