“A Vision of the World We Want to Live in”

ETC International Theatre Conference and Young Europe IV Festival Conclude in Nova Gorica, Slovenia.

Nearly 200 theatre professionals, directors and artists gathered at Slovene National Theatre Nova Gorica from 17-21 April 2024 for the two ETC events, collectively named ‘The Young. The Bold. Break the Mould’.

From 'Room Rumours' by Matin Soofipoor Omam from Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe (Germany) (c) Saša Mrak / SNG Nova Gorica / ETC

The European Theatre Convention (ETC) is proud to announce the successful close of 'The Young. The Bold. Break The Mould', the name for the Young Europe IV Festival and ETC International Theatre Conference, held from 17-21 April 2024 at Slovene National Theatre Nova Gorica.

The four-day international event was a resounding success, bringing together nearly 200 theatre professionals, directors, and artists, drawn from the European Theatre Convention (ETC) network, for discussions and networking on diversity in European theatre.

‘The Young. The Bold. Break The Mould’ was also the final conference during TRANSFORMATIONS, ETC’s programme of activities as a cultural network for the period 2021-24, which has been co-funded by the European Union.

The highlights included:

  • Eight international premieres and after-show talks for the classroom plays created during ETC’s award-winning artistic collaboration project, Young Europe IV. Read more
  • Interventions from more than 40 speakers at the Festival and Conference panel events, including high-profile artists, directors, politicians, policy experts, and academics. Discover the programme
  • Three new theatres joined the ETC network: Schauspielhaus Zürich (Switzerland), Ivan Franko National Academic Drama Theatre (Ukraine), and Ravenna Ravenna Teatro - Centro di Produzione (Italy) Discover ETC Members
Participants at The Young. The Bold. Break the Mould at SNG Nova Gorica (c) Saša Mrak / SNG Nova Gorica / ETC

ETC International Theatre Conference

The ETC Conference addressed crucial topics such as diversity in European theatre, sustainability, and the importance of theatre for young audiences. Keynote speeches were delivered by prominent figures including Kim Komljanec, Adviser to the Slovenian Minister of Culture; Dr. Aminata Cairo, Research Professor of Social Justice and Diversity in the Arts; Niklas Nienass, Member of the European Parliament, and high-profile artists, directors, and dramaturgs.

Gabriel Bernoville, Representative of the Education, Youth, Sport and Culture department at the European Commission (DEGEAC), described the European Theatre Convention (ETC) as “one of our strongest allies” in the field of theatre in Europe. She said ETC provided theatre makers with space “to discuss collectively your aims, your ambitions, and frame another future for all of us in Europe and in theatre."


As part of ETC’s ongoing drive to bring politicians into the conversation with theatre makers to drive change, two high-profile European politicians were invited to address ‘The Young. The Bold. Break The Mould’. MEP Niklas Nienaß called on EU member states and national finance ministers to enable increased investment in Europe’s culture and diversity. "We are talking with NATO about spending 2% of GDP on defence, which I find legitimate, especially in these times,” he said. “But defend what? The European idea. And so we must also spend on the causes, like culture, that we want to defend, way more than 1% of GDP.”

Rui Tavares, a historian and Member of the Portuguese Parliament, said: “After the pandemic, as we reach a new phase in the world of work and labour relations, we need -- as Portuguese philosopher Andre Barata says -- to stop just surviving and start living. We need to create the types of places and neighbourhoods and villages where you can live.…. and many of the ideas should be put on the table by people that come from a cultural background.”

The keynote recordings are available on the ETC website.

From 'Hassan and Moses' by Tomer Pawlicki from De Toneelmakerij (The Netherlands) (c) Saša Mrak / SNG Nova Gorica / ETC

Young Europe IV Festival

Eight original productions for classroom audiences were presented at the Young Europe IV Festival, which was the recipient of the Art Explora – Académie Des Beaux Arts European Award in 2022. The performances were staged by ETC theatres from Germany, Malta, Slovakia, Belarus/UK, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Cyprus, making space for important themes for young audiences such as fatphobia, queer identities, the migration experience for teenagers, institutional racism, mental health and therapy, and the impact of the Israel-Palestine conflict on communities in other countries.

You can find more information about the Festival, which was selected as a 'satellite event' for the European Commission’s prestigious New European Bauhaus Festival, HERE.

"When we work with our young people, it's not as much what you say, or what you do, but how you are,” commented Dr. Aminata Cairo during the Festival. “You have to show up differently and be what you would like to see. Be brave. Be accommodating. And make celebration a normal part of these new stories we want to create."

Evein Obulor on stage at the Young Europe IV Festival Artistic Panel (c) David Verlič / SNG Nova Gorica / ETC

In an artistic panel moderated by Evein Obulor, Director European Coalition of Cities against Racism, Young Europe IV mentors Patty Kim Hamilton, Dino Pešut and Dounia Mahammed stressed the need to make the changes that enable non-dominant voices to have more space in European theatres. Obulor added: “If theatres really want to be institutions where public discourse is being negotiated, non-dominant voices need to be at the centre.”

Members valued the mix of performances and insight during the events, highlighting the benefit of being able to come and discuss the key themes at length together.

In addition to the festival performances, SNG Nova Gorica presented plays including ‘Five Kinds of Silence’. This was the first Slovenian staging of this tense family drama, directed by Maša Pelko, a prominent member of the youngest generation of Slovenian directors, for whom this was a Slovene National Theatre Nova Gorica debut.

Audience at ETC International Theatre Conference (c) David Verlič / SNG Nova Gorica / ETC

New ETC Members

During the Conference’s General Assembly, three theatres joined the ETC network, taking the number to 65 members from 31 countries.

These are:

  • Ravenna Teatro - Centro di Produzione (Italy)
  • Schauspielhaus Zürich (Switzerland)
  • Ivan Franko National Academic Drama Theatre (Ukraine) - Associated Member

Closing the conference and Festival, Heidi Wiley, ETC Executive Director, praised the Slovene National Theatre Nova Gorica's “open and ambitious approach to international collaboration”, and her delight at being able to “bring the ETC network to Nova Gorica as part of the city’s preparations to become European Capital of Culture 2025.”

Cláudia Belchior, ETC President and Executive General Coordinator at the Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisbon (Portugal), described the act of gathering 100 theatre professionals and artists for the ETC Conference and Young Europe IV Festival as a “vision of the world we want to live in.” “A world that recognises uncertainty, challenges, and indeed threats, but takes pride in our diversity, dialogue, and international collaboration,” she continued. “A world that stands for peace and against hatred."

Audience reacts after watching 'Surviving the Substitute Lesson', by Emel Aydoğdu from Junges! Staatstheater Braunschweig (Germany)

Supported by

Young Europe IV is co-funded by the European Union. 


This initiative is generously supported by the Art Explora - Académie des Beaux-Arts European Award.

Nova Gorica 2024

ETC International Theatre Conference and Young Europe IV Festival

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