What is Tornedalsteatern (Torne River Valley Theater)?

One immediately thinks of an explosion when looking at recent years’ developments in the arts scene in Tornedalen. More and more people up and down this river valley are becoming involved in different types of production and project in music, films and the stage.

It began with a meeting between young people interested in the theatre, music, and languages and the county drama director Ulla Lyttkens, where for the first time Meänkieli (Tornedalen Finnish) was used on stage. Today we can see that the framework formed by the theatre has been a highly fertile hothouse for a great many people and projects. 

Tornedalsteatern is a good example of a new type of institution.

In Sweden , institutions in the world of the stage have been solely involved with activities on a professional basis. But in recent years it has become increasingly clear that successful theatre can arise from the encounter between professional and amateur, in the way that Tornedalsteatern has worked.

A number of other theatres in Sweden could also be taken as examples of what is internationally termed ”community theatre”: theatres with a small professional core that through different projects have considerable impact on the surrounding community, and in addition to creative and artistic inspiration have also achieved a series of important social goals. In Sweden . These theatres easily fall outside the established grants system, since the state does not take responsibility for the encounter between amateur culture and professional culture, but hands over responsibility to the local authorities, whose economic status, as we all know, is often too constrained.

Here, Tornedalsteatern has had the good fortune to belong to a language minority region, and has been eligible for state grants for that very reason.

When assessing the economic value of cultural initiatives, we must find ways to understand what positive effects self-confidence, self-awareness, trust in others, cultural identity and the development of creative skills have on enterprise and responsible participation in society.

Tornedalsteatern is continuing its work in hopes that in a not too distant future the state, county council and municipalities will provide it with an opportunity to start a professional ensemble in the Meänkieli region.