Creation/Production/training/enjoyment: The Ethiopian National Theatre

Where
Ethiopia
When
2017
Who
The National Theatre, under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Key objectives of the measure:

To support performing arts creation, production, enjoyment, training and research at a national and international level.

Scope of the measure:
National, International
Nature of the measure:
institutional
Main feature of the measure:

- Creating a pool of high quality artists, employed full time by the government. Overall 274 full-time civil servants are working at the National Theatre including 35 actors (12 women, only one woman is directing plays), 72 musicians (9 women), 24 traditional dance performers (12 women) and 6 contemporary dancers (3 women). The proportion of women artists in the National Theatre is still influenced by the performing art tradition, even for modern production. However, this is slowly evolving, and the Theatre is putting a lot of effort in its new women's empowerment program (see the example of good practice 5.2.2).

- Proposing to the audience a vast choice of performances. Indeed, each day of the week has its program on a yearly basis, including modern and traditional drama, modern and traditional music, contemporary dance performances and even musical drama. On top of the yearly program, special shows for targeted audience are also scheduled, in collaboration with the Theatre Department of Addis Ababa University, diplomatic representation in Addis Ababa and the private sector.

- Supporting the writing of new plays  by  selecting  newly written plays and developing scripts internally; foreign plays are also translated into Amharic.

- Being affordable: With 1500 seats, the Theatre offers a large choice of tickets and pricing starting from, 1.8 USD,  which is affordable by most citizens. Moreover, students from universities, girls' schools and members of professional artists associations   can attend for free when providing a letter from their organisation. Students from the Theatre Department of Addis Ababa University can attend rehearsals and shows for free.

- Increasing knowledge of Ethiopia's cultural sector. The research department of the National Theatre increase knowledge in the traditional and modern expressions of Ethiopia's ethno-linguistic groups cultures as well as audience behaviour. The research results are disseminated on conferences, workshops and publications.

 

Results expected through the implementation of the measure:

Proving secure employment for artists and support staff (274 full time staff).

Supporting artistic creation in the field of theatre, music and dance.

Maintaining access to local and international performing arts for Ethiopian people.

Financial resources allocated to implement the measure:

The Federal funding is increasing yearly. In 2016, of 1,049,350 USD is allocated to cover basic functioning costs. Some projects require extra funding such as Festival out of Addis (a couple of example are detailed later in the report) or particular program (the example of the women empowerment program is detailed in the gender section of the report). Private sector sponsors and entrance fees, as well as occasional rental of the venue, supplement the budget.

Main conclusions of the evaluation of the measure:

For the last 4 years, the National Theatre has seen a decrease in its audience. There are two reasons for that decrease: the growing interest in football at the stadium and the development of Dstv (Satellite TV) to watch international games. While modern media are developing, the Theatre has to be more and more competitive, but the budget of the institution remains limited (despite of a the yearly increase) and does not cover all production costs. Tickets sales are a critical input and productions have to be limited in their ambitions to stay within budget.

Indicators used to determine impact:
Quantitative: Income, number of tickets sold, number of free tickets provided.Qualitative: Through survays (interviews, open notebooks to enable audiences write their feeings to improve the service delivery…) the Theatre often measures audience satisfaction. 
Goal(s) of UNESCO's 2005 Convention
Cultural Domain(s)
Music
Performing Arts
Cultural Value Chain
Creation
Production
Distribution
Participation