Young theatre

Project Coordinator: Pionirski dom – Youth Culture Center from Ljubljana (Slovenia)

Pionirski dom is a public institution in the field of culture and a leading institution in the field of informal arts education for children, youth and adults since 1963.

Children’s Cultural Center Belgrade (Serbia)
Elk Cutural Center (Poland)
Comic Opera for Children (Romania)

Associate Partner:
KRILA, Creative Laboratory of Contemporary Theater (Croatia)
Thalia Teatro (Slovakia)

The project starts 01.09.2017. and is concluded on 31.05.2019.


The goal of the project “Young Theatre” is to address the trend of low and steadily decreasing popularity of theatre among European audiences, especially the young, by exploring the audience building potential of improvisational theatre.

The problem

Attending theatre remains one of the least popular cultural activities among Europeans. Only ballet, dance and opera are less popular cultural activities in Europe. The age group least interested in theatre is the young: Almost half of Europeans aged 15 – 24 years (49%) are not interested in attending a theatre performance, more than any other age group1. Theatre attendance is lowest in Eastern and Southern Europe.

The Solution: From Participatory Theatre to Emancipatory Theatre & Art Education

The history of theatre and children’s theatre in particular, is charaterised by ‘institutional asymmetry’. The aim of overcoming this asymmetrical relationship between actors and spectators led to attempts of audience participation in the performance itself.

However, there is still the tendency for the asymmetric situations to remain in these participatory forms: “It is the people producing the show who lay down the structures and rules of performance. And they decide on the ‘how’ and ‘when’ of the audience participation. Since it is the ideas of adult theatre-makers … and the children only participate in the implementation of those ideas, such attempts at participatory theatre … strengthen the double asymmetry (Kuhn, 2008).

The contemporary approaches to young audiences in theatre differ from the outdated and ineffective participatory models. These new models aim at involving the audience in shaping situations jointly with the actors.

When it comes to Audience development tools, however, there has not been much progress. Most of the efforts revolve around marketing communications, pricing initiatives and special events for children and families at theatres.

Project objectives

The project objective is to develop an innovative tool for young audience building in the field of theatre arts and create an education and training program for Audience development staff at cultural operators and other institutions in order to enable a Europe-wide delivery of the new audience development tool to the target groups.

The audience development tool methodology will be based on involving young audiences as active participants in theatre production through improvisational theatre techniques.

At the conclusion of the “Young Theatre” project, the project partners will launch the International Network of Youth Improvisational Theatre Centres, consisting of project partners and project associate partners, representing 11 Culture programme countries and with the ambition to develop the network to include at least 15 Culture programme countries and 30 institutions by 2020.

Project target groups include (1) children in the age group 12 – 15 years, (2) pedagogical staff and (3) cultural and creative players in the field of theatre.

Support will be provided to cultural organisations to adapt to new and innovative ways of engaging audiences both to retain them, to build new
audiences, diversify audiences, including reaching current “non-audiences”, and to improve the experience for both existing and future audiences, to expand their scope and to deepen the relationship with them.