SL is the Association of Independent Theatres in Iceland.
The association is a grassroots organization, supported only by the member groups and the city of Reykjavik. Member groups of SL are around 56. Most of the groups are based in the capital Reykjavik, but there are also groups in the rural Iceland. Some are operating all the time, some are not. Like anywhere the theatre groups come and go but a strong base of around 25 groups is now in place. The problem for the groups is the lack in funding and that is the big fight of the independent theatres. But there is more.
The Independent Theatres premier between 25 and 35 plays every year. The groups have been a driving force in promoting new playwriting in Iceland and are unafraid of treading new ground in their approach to staging theatre and dance. For this SL groups, such as Vesturport/Art box, have received international acclaim for their original style of theatre. Around 250.000 people attend the performances of the SL groups every year in Iceland and abroad. That is a huge part of the overall attendance to the theatre in Iceland, a country with the total population of 300.000. And shows without doubt that the cultural life in Iceland has a fundamental need for the work of the SL groups.
In the past decade the Independent Theatres have been a growing force in the Icelandic theatre and dance scene. The Association has been fighting to let politicians and officials take notice of their hard work and successes. This has resulted in minor steps towards a better working ground and the groups have at the same time become more professional in their work.
SL is currently working by an official agenda for the Association, published in 2004. Amongst exciting projects is to open a Theatre- and Cultural Centre for the SL groups in Tjarnarbíó Theatre in the centre of Reykjavík as well as hosting an international theatre festival of the Independent Theatres.
There is more to come from the Independent Theatres in Iceland!
The Manifesto of the Association of Independent Theatres in Iceland
2. The AITI encourages the wide variety of genres, work methods and forms of the independent theatre groups, which in turn enables them to react swiftly to new challenges and changes in society, thus being an ever active and fruitful quick of a flourishing performing arts scene. The fundamental conditions for artistic development, such as extensive research and experiments on the basic structure of the performing arts, must be provided. Financial independence is one of the essential conditions for the AITI members’ creative freedom, enabling the production of socially responsible, progressive and artistically ambitious work.
3. The AITI actively participates in various international performing arts organizations, forming a link between its members and the international performing arts community for future mediation and development. The AITI’s participation in these International, European and Nordic organizations helps provide a realistic basis for future coalition and cooperation of performing arts professionals.
4. The AITI’s goal is to build and maintain a vibrant creative community in Iceland and safeguard the interests of all professional performance artists who chose to work independently. The AITI expects the work produced by its members to be a powerful inspiration to the performing arts scene in Iceland.