ETC Celebrates the Legacy of Visionary European Theatre Director Dubravka Vrgoč

The largest network of publicly-funded theatres in Europe praises Vrgoč's "courage, energy and tenacity" as she prepares to leave her role at Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb.

08 February 2022

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Dubravka Vrgoč is set to leave her role as General and Artistic Director of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb by 1 September 2022, following the appointment of a new director by the country’s Minister of Culture.

For the European theatre community this means an end to an era of visionary and successful European theatre creation. Under Ms Vrogč’s leadership since 2014, the National Theatre has played a fundamental role as an ambassador for Croatian drama and Croatian artists, developing international cooperation with leading theatre institutions around the globe. The theatre became one of the pillars of the European Theatre Convention (ETC), the largest network of public theatres in Europe, at which Vrgoč spent six years as President and four years as Vice-President. Her direction saw ETC become a key interlocutor for the European Commission, organising the first ever European Theatre Forum in November 2020 on the Commission’s behalf.

This success is indicative of the courage, energy and tenacity Vrgoč has displayed in her vibrant career in theatre. She set up the Croatian World Theatre Festival in 2003 alongside Director Ivica Buljan, restoring Croatian theatre’s seat on the artistic table of Europe’s theatre community which was destroyed during war in the 90s. Her nearly 20 years at the helm of two of the most important theatres in Zagreb (ZKM and The National Theatre) saw the theatres prosper both economically and artistically. The theatres each became members of the ETC, creating strong connections between Croatian and European theatre. During these years, Ms Vrgoč took on a very active role in promoting the idea of a ‘European’ theatre. She created numerous highly ambitious and very successful international collaboration projects, established ETC as a leading organization for a stronger and more visible European theatre, and reached out to new audiences. Vrgoč also displayed a clear commitment to nurturing new talents: she spent many years as a mentor to young professionals at the ETC European Theatre Academy, an annual programme of masterclasses at the Festival d’Avignon.

Commenting on Vrgoč’s upcoming departure, Serge Rangoni, ETC President and General Manager & Artistic Director of Théâtre de Liège, Belgium, said:

"Europe is still in the process of being built, and the strain of the pandemic over the past two years have hugely tested the cultural and theatre sectors. Vrgoč’s influence has shaped the way European theatre is today and she has displayed a remarkable capacity for development and openness at the institutions under her care. To tackle the challenges ahead and seize the myriad opportunities, we need more visionary thinking and a pragmatic approach to leadership, as so often proved successful by Ms Vrgoč. We hope her path has paved the way for others to follow.”

Press Contact

For interviews and additional information, please contact:

Christy Romer, ETC Communication Manager or + 49 17 235 720 92  

About ETC

Founded in 1988, the European Theatre Convention (ETC) is the largest network of public theatres in Europe. It is an arts organisation that promotes European theatre as a vital platform for dialogue, democracy and interaction that responds to, reflects and engages with today’s diverse audiences and changing societies. ETC’s programme of grants and events support networking, professional development and artistic collaborations for theatre staff across Europe — championing theatre as a key European art form for the 21st century.

ETC has 44 members from more than 25 countries and is supported by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

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