ETC Study: Digital Theatre - Digital Strategies and Business Models in European Theatres

Deadline: 30 September 2022

Participate in the first-ever study into digital theatre experimentation across Europe.

Digital Theatre – Digital Strategies and Business Models in European Theatre will analyse artistic production, digital dissemination, strategies and digital business models in ETC member theatres.

The study has been developed in partnership with the Akademie für Theater und Digitalitat in Dortmund/Germany, and digital theatre researcher Katie Hawthorne.

Deadline: 30 September 2022.

ETC Members Only.

Main image: Akademie Fellow Max Schweder. Photo by Birgit Hupfeld

The Detail

The Covid-19 pandemic forced the European theatre sector to test out new technologies, virtual stages and creative aesthetics in a way it never had before.

We saw an explosion in the number of experimental formats created for digital audiences — Instagram and Zoom performances, new streaming platforms, tests with virtual realities and interactive content.

But we know that tight budgets and a return to 'normal' performance schedules put this digital exploration at risk.

How can we as a theatre sector use the lessons learned during the pandemic to continue this digital artistic and audience development? What digital strategies do we already have in place, and what can we learn from partner theatres around Europe? And can we find a way to articulate our collective needs to funders so that we secure the necessary resources to remain open to experimental digital theatre formats?

The survey asks for information on budgets, staffing, ticket sales, long-term strategy and artistic expression, across the years 2019-2022. With this in mind, we suggest that you form a small working group across your theatre, in order to share the work load and provide insights from different departments. We will anonymise the collected data. Please, fill it in as accurately as possible as this will help ETC lobby for theatres across Europe.


Why is the ETC Study Important?

It's rare that we have time to stop and look back at the true impact of innovation in our theatres. We see three key reasons for participating in the study:

  • It's pioneering: no research has ever been done on digital theatre on such a large scale
  • It's a chance to learn from colleagues across Europe about what sorts of digital performances and practices worked (or didn't!) for them. 
  • It's an opportunity to help communicate to funders and politicians about the importance of digital theatre. The more theatres add their expriences, the stronger and more coherent our voices can become.

The conclusions promise to be fascinating. We think digital theatre is more than a temporary, emergency solution to lockdowns and the Covid-19 pandemic. By joining the study, you tell colleagues around Europe whether this is truly the case.

Video Explainers

What IS Digital Theatre?

Lead researcher Katie Hawthorne explains the main terms used in the study: Digitally distributed theatre; Digitally mediated theatre; and Digitally located theatre. (10 mins)

View video

The ETC Study: A Walkthrough

Lead researcher Katie Hawthorne talks through the survey, explaining the information requested by each question and who in your theatre would be best placed to collect it. (10 mins)

View video

Meet the Study Team


Katie Hawthorne

Writer and Researcher

Katie is a writer and researcher, specialising in the relationship between live performance and emerging technologies. She is based at the University of Edinburgh, where she will shortly complete her doctoral research “Contextualising Liveness: Digitally Distributed, Mediated and Located Theatre in Edinburgh and Berlin, 2017-19”. At the Academy for Theatre and Digitality she is working on a project titled “Automating the Audience”, which explores the ethics of labour in emerging modes of digital audienceship and asks: What would it mean to have an automated audience?


Marcus Lobbes

Director, Akademie für Theater und Digitalität

Marcus Lobbes is the director of the Academy for Theater and Digitality, the sixth division at Theater Dortmund; he has also worked since 1995 as a director, stage and costume designer, and author in opera and drama, including a focus on premieres and first performances, at many well-known theaters and opera houses in German-speaking countries. Since 2014, he has been regularly invited as a guest lecturer at various renowned colleges and universities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

As director of the Dortmund Academy, he is in demand locally, nationally and internationally in lecture and discourse formats; an important concern for him is the development and encouragement of a wide variety of networks for the performing arts, as well as the communication of artistic research in correspondence with the latest technologies to theater and educational institutions, politics and the public.

Photo by Susanne Diesner

Full Text - Marcus Lobbes, Akademie fur Theater und Digitalitat

Read the speech by Marcus Lobbes, made at the pre-launch webinar for the ETC Study on 21/04/2022



Michael Eickhoff

Dramaturgy and International Networking, Akademie für Theater und Digitalität

Michael Eickhoff studied history, German language and literature, and sociology in Bielefeld and Paris. Since 2000 he has been working as production manager, dramaturg, curator and lecturer for various theaters (Theater Bonn, Wiesbaden and Bielefeld) and universities. From 2010 to 2020 he was part of the artistic management team at the Schauspiel Dortmund under the artistic direction of Kay Voges. Here he has accompanied a large number of productions, curated discourse series, festivals and international guest performances, and co-created the concept and the funding of the Academy for Theater and Digitality.

He is particularly interested in theater in discourse with various social actors – in exchange with political-artistic activism, journalism and a variety of related disciplines of art.

Since summer 2020 he has been part of the Academy for Theater and Digitality where he is responsible for (international) networking and cooperation between art, science and business.

Why Join ETC?

  • Meet and network with colleagues from other European theatres
  • Create international artistic collaborations
  • Get inspired by new ideas and shared best practices
  • Be represented at European and international level
  • Discover new contexts, cities and perspectives
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