A letter of support to the performing arts community in Ukraine, International Theatre Institute (ITI)

Dear friends and colleagues,
We are shocked and horrified to see the brutal Russian invasion to
Ukraine. We condemn it from the bottom of our hearts. We can imagine
the horror that you’re experiencing in this very moment. We want to
assure you that we support your struggle for freedom and
independence, and we’ll express this support everywhere we can.
Hopefully the bloodshed will end soon, and that the freedom of speech
and artistic expression will prevail under any circumstances that might
develop. We’re sure you have the power and commitment to continue
your struggle in the theatres, too, and strengthen the spirit of your
audiences to survive these awful days until you regain your freedom and

Your friends at ITI:
• Israel, Gad Kaynar, President
• Germany, Yvonne Büdenhölzer, President, Thomas Engel, Director
• Belgium Flanders, Guy Coolen, President
• Georgia, Levan Khetaguri, General Secretary
• Austria, Reinhard Auer
• Sweden, Ulricha Johnson, CEO, Petra Brylander, Chair of the Board
• Romania, Aura Corbeanu, Doina Lupu
• Hungary, Anna Lakos on behalf of Executive Committee
• UK, Stefania Bochicchio, Co-director, Nick Awde, Co-director
• Czech Republic, Yvona Kreuzmannová, Marta Smolíková, Adriana
Světlíková, Jakub Vedral – Presidency Board
• Finnland, Mikko Kanninen, Chairman of the Board, Linnea Stara,
• Slovakia, Vladislava Fekete, Director Theatre Institute Bratislava
• Croatia, Željka Turčinović, President, Nina Križan, Producer
• Italy, Fabio Tolledi, President
• Cyprus, Christos Georgiou, Executive Director
• Estonia, Anu Lamp, President, Kirsten Simmo, Director
• Slovenia, Staša Mihelčič
• North Macedonia, Ivanka Apostolova
• Switzerland, Anina Jendreyko, Ursula Werdenberg, Board Member

For TDA (The Day After), an informal forum of theatre artists which was
founded during the Covid19 lockdowns, aiming to investigate and reflect
on our responsibility and possibilities as artists in this changing world:
Hadar Galron – Playwright, director, actress, Tel Aviv
Ari Roth – Founding Producing Partner, Voices Festival Productions,
Washington DC
Darinka Abrahamova – Dramaturg of Slovak National Theatre, Bratislava
Eszter Orban – Co-president of the Hungarian Theater Dramaturgs Guild,
George Brownstone – Psychiatrist & Psychoanalys,Vienna
K. Madavane – K. Madavane, Playwright, Director, New Delhi
Matthias Naumann – Playwright, translator and publisher, Berlin
Motti Lerner – Playwright, Tel Aviv
Nenni Delmestre – resident director at Croatian National Theatre, Split
Ophir Ariel – writer, director and producer, New York
Petr Svojtka –Director, playwright and translator, Prague,
Pino Tierno – Writer, producer translator, Rome
Richard McElvain – Richard McElvain Actor, Director, Playwright,
Fulbright Scholar, Boston MA.
Vijaya Rao – Member of Chingari Theatre Group, New Delhi
Vivianne Pasmanter – Actress, Sau Paulo

A letter of support to the performing arts community in Ukraine (pdf)

SPAC 70 years

Swedish Performing Arts Coalition celebrating 70 years!

15 June 1951 – 15 June 2021

newsletter march 2020

Newsletter March 2021

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With great admiration, we are following the country’s performing artists, rehearsals with masks and protective visors, go to the premiere and eventually packing everything in boxes with anticipation of the new theatre season which will arrive when the time is right.

We were glad to receive so many suggestions for seminars, discussions and workshops for our semi-digital Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts which will happen this year on May 18-21! The program scheduling is already in the process and if, by any luck that destiny, vaccines and the Public Health Authority allow it, several events and performances will take place live in their respective hometowns as well as being available on the website.

Take part of our latest announcements with publications, tips, open calls and events. On Saturday 27th of March is the celebration of the World Theatre Day, which was instituted by the International Theatre Institute in Paris in 1961. This year the actress Helen Mirren wrote a global message, which she finishes as such:
”The creative urge of writers, designers, dancers, singers, actors, musicians, directors, will never be suffocated and in the very near future will flourish again with a new energy and a new understanding of the world we all share. I can’t wait!”

Best regards,
Ulricha Johnson
Managing director
Swedish Performing Arts Coalition

Read the newsletter here.

newsletter december 2020

Newsletter #December 2020

Swedish Performing Arts Coalition is the Swedish Centre of the International Theater Institute (ITI). It was created by the initiative of the first UNESCO Director General Sir Julian Huxley and the playwright and novelist JB Priestly in 1948, and has over a hundred centers all over the world. We had our last General Assembly in Spain 2017 with 62 countries represented, but this year it will be presented online. Our head quarter in Shanghai is planning a digital General Assembly 10-15 December, and some parts of the program is open to the public. Visit their facebook page to read more!

Did you miss Swedstage Online or would like to share it with someone who didn’t have the opportunity to see it? Explore the full program on the Swedstage website! 

Swedish Performing Arts Coalition was  invited to participate in the event Sustainable Leadership in the Arts which was part of the Nordic Talks series with the Nordic Council of Ministers for International Leadership Week in November 2020. The 3-day event included 3 free online panels with Nordic and UK artistic leaders discussing their organisations’ positive practices and what changes need to be made for the future. Ulricha Johnson participated in the talk about Diversity and Inclusivity with Fin Kennedy from Tamasha Theatre Company and Lars Werner Thomsen from Glad Teater. Visit Cut the cord’s website to read more.

Due to Covid-19, the next edition of the Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts in Västerås is postponed to 2022. In 2021, we will present a semi-digital version of the Biennal. We will share more updated information on our website soon.

Please follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get updated information about our work!

Best regards,
Ulricha Johnson
Managing director
Swedish Performing Arts Coalition

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Welcome To Swedstage Online 2020

Swedstage Online 2020 – November 9th at 2 pm CET.

All films from Swedstage online 2020 is available on the Swedstage webpage.

The performances 2020 are a selection of the finest Swedish productions for children, youth and adults. There will be a great variety in the program with a range of different genres, which enables the audience to get an idea of the width of Swedish performing arts of today. See eight pitches from current selected productions and meet with actors, choreographers, and directors. 

As part of Swedstage Online we will also present a panel talk: Create or Decrease? How can art defy shrinking freedom? In a conversation with Swedish and foreign artists about freedom of speech and democracy we highlight the decreasing space of bold performing arts, that challenge power and norms. Can art be used as resistance? Can art break down walls? Can art pave the way forward? Learn how our peers around the world deal with censorship, self-censorship and threats. After the panel talk we invite you to an exclusive webinar where you can chat directly with Dr. Srirak Plipat, the Executive Director of Freemuse. 


Selected performances 2020

Helsingborg City Theatre
BamBam Frost
The Royal Swedish Opera/Young at the Opera
Virpi Pahkinen Dance Company
Kompani Giraff

Artistic advisors 2020

Theresa Benér
Swedish theatre critic, author, specialising in contemporary European theatre. Chairman of The Swedish Association of Theatre Critics.

Sara Bergsmark
Producer at MDT (Modern Dance Theatre), an international co-production platform
and a leading venue for contemporary choreography.

Pelle Hanaeus
Swedish actor, director and pedagogue. He has been Artistic Director of Regionteater Väst and President of Clowns without Borders. He lectures and gives workshops ingender aware performance for theatres and universities.

More information: www.swedstage.se

Read the newsletter about Swedstage Online 2020

Swedstage is an initiative from
Swedish Performing Arts Coaliton and ASSITEJ Sweden

Swedstage is financed by the Swedish Institute, the Swedish Arts Council, the City of Stockholm, Region Stockholm and The Swedish Arts Grants Committee.

Newletter #October 2020


We continue to thank the employers and employees organizations for their diligent courtship and lobbying. Politicians have probably never had more knowledge of the conditions of the culture area as right now. May this lay the foundation for a long-term investment in both art and infrastructure. There are probably many of you who work intensively to produce and get this autumn’s complicated puzzles of ticket sales, rehearsals, and touring. For you swedish producers‚ do not forget to nominate performances for The Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts 2021! For obvious reasons, the selection committee cannot travel as much and spontaneously as before, so foresight is preferable.

The Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts
Regarding the biennial implementation, Scensverige’s chairman Petra Brylander is convinced that we must dare to emerge from this crisis. The Biennale is an essential festival for everyone who works with and loves performing arts. We will need to talk to each other more than ever about everything that has happened during the upcoming biennial. And also be allowed to look beyond Corona and build a new future. What have we learned? What do we take with us? How can we pass on a review of our climate footprint when we restart? Are we approaching a broader representation? How can we, as a sector, make ourselves visible as a fundamental part of society?

Right now, we have a strong focus on Swedstage, our international export festival that we organize every two years in Stockholm together with The Swedish ASSITEJ. This year, the event will be digital. Keep an eye on our social media, you will get the entire program and all selected productions that will be pitched for the international market.

We have many interesting projects in the pipeline. There are several countries that, for example, are interested in exchanges in newly written drama. We continue to correspond at least once a week with the major festivals and networks that in the pandemic planned to order Swedish guest performances.

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Newletter #September 2020

We are keeping our fingers crossed that it will be possible to gather more than 50 people in the Swedish theatres very soon. With strong arguments, the industry has explained that we can responsibly solve the audience issue. We are happy for you who have so many house seats that you may let a larger audience in with safety distances. Let’s hope our journey back continues from now on!
The Swedish Biennal for Performing Arts 2021

Our competent selection committee for The Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts 2021 is ready to receive many nominations of Swedish productions now when the show season is finally starting. The committee, chaired by Lis Hellström Sveningson, consists of Roger Wilson, Josette Bushell-Mingo, Lena Engström, Malin Palmqvist, Mahmoud Al Zeeb, and Martin Forsberg. There will be a lot to process and talk about at The Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts in Västerås in May. It has been a confusing year on many levels, and we look forward to finding out what our members need. We long to meet in real life and feel the enormous energy that the biennial generates.
Creative Force
At the time of writing, Scensverige is at Nordkoster to hold two different workshops and talks with our colleagues and communities in Georgia. Together with Georgian ITI we run a Creative Force project with funding from the Swedish Institute. We cannot reveal too much now, but eventually, we will announce everything about the project.

Europe on the Move
We recently participated in an online conference with one of our international network organizations, Europe on the Move. 
With participants from a large number of European countries, we will compile and prepare information and guidelines regarding how international guest performances and tours can be planned and implemented in the future.
We had a lot of fun the other week, when we filmed interviews with all the creative artists behind this years online version of our pitch festival Swedstage. The program is amazing, and we can´t wait to get your reactions on it. Stay tuned for more info!

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What happens to the performing arts industry?

On 21 August, Minister of Culture Amanda Lind and Minister of the Interior Mikael Damberg invited to a press conference to present how the performing arts and events industries will survive the pandemic. On 27 August, the Public Health Agency in Sweden issued a consultation response that enables the industry to welcome a more vast audience again.

The Public Health Agency’s proposal 27 August
The Public Health Agency submits a consultation response in which it proposes that the exemption should initially apply to events with a maximum of 500 people. According to the proposal, the ceiling may be raised further depending on the pandemic’s development and the effects of the changes. Also, the authority writes that the distance that the participants must keep should be one meter.

The Swedish Government’s proposal 21 August
Minister of Culture Amanda Lind and Minister of the Interior Mikael Damberg announce additional financial support for culture and sports of SEK 2.5 billion. The Government also wants to ease the audience restrictions for several types of events. For example, when an artist performs for a seated audience in a venue with serving and for a football or ice hockey match that so far has not been able to have an audience due to the limitation of the number of people allowed to participate. The exceptions are proposed to apply if it is possible to carry out an event with a seated audience at a distance of two meters and an audience roof. The Swedish Public Health Agency has been commissioned to produce more specific recommendations regarding this and how, for example, audience releases and queuing should be handled.

KLYS meets three ministers, 21 August
KLYS meets Minister of Culture Amanda Lind, Minister of Trade and Industry Ibrahim Baylan, and Minister of Labor Eva Nordmark to discuss its members’ needs. At the meeting, KLYS ‘new proposals for a follow-up crisis package for culture # krispaketförkulturen2.0 developed in collaboration with KLYS 14 member organizations, will be presented. There, KLYS states which measure the Government should prioritize to create reasonable conditions for art, culture, and culture creators during the pandemic. Thus, artistic activities can eventually be resumed. Read the proposal here.

Previous lobbying from the industry

A meeting focusing on the technology professions.
Meeting with representatives from the Swedish Musicians’ Association and LLB (industry association for experience technology), The Swedish Union for Performing Arts and Film, Minister of Culture and Minister of Trade and Industry Ibrahim Baylan on how the culture/events sector is affected by the pandemic with particular focus on technical professions and subcontractors.

Call to open Sweden’s schools for culture!
The four performing arts organizations Svenska Assitej, Teatercentrum, Danscentrum, and Länsteatrarna in Sweden, have written an open letter to Minister of Education Anna Ekström, Minister of Culture Amanda Lind and Sweden’s Municipalities and Regions CEO Staffan Isling. Read the letter here.

General meeting for national institutions, trade unions, and industry and employers’ organizations
At the beginning of August, representatives of Swedish Performing Arts, the Swedish Performing Arts Association, and the heads of the national performing arts institutions participated in a meeting with Minister of Culture Amanda Lind to emphasize the industry’s great seriousness is facing.

Newsletter #June 2020

Together with our members, we have created a state of the nation address. In the industry, we often talk and write messages and manifestos about the importance of performing arts, theater, art, and culture. We wanted to investigate whether it’s possible to write a kind of message which is art in itself. The playwrights Alexandra Loonin and Ebba Petrén have written a fantastic text, which can be listened to and read over and over again. It is both abstract and concrete, and very human. The fact that so many of our members wanted to be involved in recording audio and film on their own gives the film a touching quality and we are so happy for everyone´s efforts and commitment. Doing something together even though we can’t meet live feels special at times like these. See ”State of the relationship” here and please help us spread it!

Global Pride
In this digital period, all Pride Festivals around the world have cancelled live activities. The Swedish Pride organization invited us to submit a contribution from our ITI Proud Performing Arts LGBTQ+ Network to the digital event Global Pride, where films and greetings from all over the world will be broadcast on June 27th. We keep our thumbs that as many of our proposals as possible get selected!

Proud Performing Arts
Regarding our Proud Performing Arts Festival in collaboration with Parkteatern and MDT in Stockholm at the end of July, we are still awaiting a decision. Either we run with a limited audience or try to arrange the performances later this year. Stockholm Pride has postponed their events to November. Digital solutions can also be made to a certain extent, we will get back with more info about this!

As there is great uncertainty about how the pandemic will develop, the Swedish Performing Arts Coalition and ASSITEJ Sweden have decided to suspend Swedstage 2020 in the form we are used to. Current circumstances make it difficult to organize international festivals. Instead, we will arrange a digital showcase program, October 18-20: Swedstage Online. There, we will show the variety of Swedish performing arts through a number of short clips from selected productions, as well as conversations with the creators and others.

A physical Swedstage will be arranged in 2021, more about this after the summer. If you have questions or want to know more, contact us at info@scensverige.se, info@assistej.se.

Keep spreading our newly translated plays 
Contemporary Swedish drama runs the gamut from menstrual musicals to urgent depictions of our era, from dystopian futures to a critical view of our economic system, by way of Greek drama that plays out in the psychiatric ward. Each Swedish playwright presented here is different from the next. Each inhabits their own unique position and perspective and allows their divergent life experiences to be reflected in their words. Taken as a whole, these works offer something for every target audience and paint a picture of our society and world.

Here you will find ten voices, translated by Rachel Willson Broyles, that together comprise a palette that can illustrate the current state of Swedish drama. And yet this is merely a fragment of a staggering and many-faceted chorus of voices. We hope that the curiosity sparked by this selection will lead to more Swedish playwrights’ work being read, moving audiences, and being produced all over the world. While the Swedish experience is unique, reading and the performing arts are universal.

New staff at Scensverige
This autumn we welcome Sandra Karlung to Scensverige! During the spring, she did an internship through the cultural science program at Stockholm University, and we are very happy that she stays, as our administrator.

Performing Arts Summer
We wish you a lovely summer and send extra love to the summer productions that will be conducted with a limited audience, we urge everyone to book a ticket for them!

Newsletter #December 2019

We are very happy to announce that Västerås (Westeros for Game of Thrones fans!) will be the city for the next Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts in May 2021! It will be incredibly fun to invite everyone to Västmanland’s Theater, where Niklas Hjulström is the Executive and Artistic Leader. Västerås and Västmanland have a history of a rich and innovative cultural life, and many exciting cultural personalities. Västmanland’s Theater has over the years done a fantastic anchoring work and creates a lot of commitment in the region. In addition, Scensverige will celebrate 70 years as Swedish Center of International Theatre Institute, so this biennial will become extra festive in several ways. 

Contemporary Russia exchange plans
Scensverige has just returned from Moscow, where we met Russian partners for an exchange of contemporary drama between our countries. The project was initiated by the Cultural Councelor Stefan Ingvarsson at the Swedish Embassy in Moscow, and we have had planning meetings with the Meyerhold Center, which is a unique house with three stages that are open to independent performing arts. They work with a comprehensive residency program to encourage non-established creators to enter the industry. Now we would like to know which Swedish institutions, venues or performing arts presenters who are interested in being part of staged readings of a number of newly written Russian plays during 2021. 

While in Moscow we also took the opportunity to visit the Gogol Center and show our support to the director and artistic director Kirill Serebrennikov via his management staff. Serebrennikov has been released from a house arrest after 20 months, but still faces imprisonment on charges of financial crime, and his passport is seized. Most people agree that the crime is fabricated and that the detention is because his work is provocative. We also visited our Russian sister organization within the International Theater Institute, which has its office at the Rainkin School of Performing Arts, and had additional meetings with Elektroteatern and Theater Doc, who visited Proud Performing Arts during Stockholm Pride 2018 with the play Out of the closet. The director was earlier this year forced to police interrogation after saboteurs sent in a 15-year-old with false ID documents in the audience, thus stopping the performance under the gay propaganda law for minors. Despite troublesome gray zones, Russian performing arts is blooming, and young, modern creators are attracting lots of audiences to productions that address societal issues.

International festival in Fujairah
The International Monodrama Festival in Fujairah in February have requested suggestions for a Swedish production, we are now investigating who would suit the festival. The arranger is the United Arab Emirates ITI Center, who offer international productions to a local audience, as well as seminars and artistic talks to create understanding and ties across borders. 
European Council meeting
Since out last newsletter we’ve also been to a European Council meeting during the Maribor Theater Festival in Slovenia. Our European Council is one of all regional councils of the International Theater Institute, which is our main organization. We met colleagues from 19 countries and had many thoughtful and lively discussions about cultural policy, gender equality, diversity, LGBTQ +, the conflicts in Turkey, the threat to freedom of expression in Hungary, refugee projects in Switzerland, prison projects in Italy, the social significance of the theater in Belgium and Macedonia among many others. 

We have also this fall had creative days in Tbilisi, where we are working on a project with local partners and our colleagues at the Georgian ITI center. With funding from the Swedish Institute we are striving to strengthen our bonds with different Georgian communities. More info to come!

Come see us in New York, and join the Proud Performing Arts
In January we travel to New York to initiate collaborations between our members and US partners. We participate in APAP, ISPA and Under the Radar, and have good guidance in the conference jungle by Elin Norquist, who after work at the Swedish Arts Council and the Swedish Music Agency, is our consultant. On January 14 we will take our international LGBTQIA network Proud Performing Arts to a further level. We are hosting a long table talk at Scandinavia House, with both American and Swedish participants. The talk is ally inclusive and we direct our work both to organizations who want to take their LGBT+ work further and artists who identify as or work with LGBT+ perspectives. Please get in touch if you want more info on this. We wish you all the best for the holidays and the new year. And remember the best gifts are performing arts experiences!

Photo: From the production “Den sårade divan”, Folkteatern Gävleborg
Photographer: Tomas van der Kaaij