Development of the independent theater scene in Slovakia

Naming a certain segment of the theater scene as independent had been undertaken particularly since the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, but had its roots in the creation, created in opposition to the official theater scene before 1989, strictly interfered with by censorship. Before the revolutionary year it took the form of amateur theater circles scattered across all Slovakia, which in the smaller towns especially acted as a safe haven for artistically freer and bolder ideological self-expression. A large part of the leading Slovak theater creators after 1989 arose just from the ranks of amateur ensembles or were established in traditions.

Many independent ensembles begin and end every year, a statistical survey by the Theater Institute demonstrating a quantitative increase in the last few years. About 47 associations that were active for more than one season were stated within official statistics in the 2013/14 season, although the statistics itself cannot record the fluctuations between artists and associations, and also does not count emerging associations, which performed just one or two premieres. The fact is that independent creative figures, mainly under the headings of civic organizations, are dependent on a mode of operation and financing – creators collaborate on art projects, but are not institutionalized under one roof and are not employees of one ensemble. Usually they do not have any rehearsal or performance space available. They cooperate with a multicultural artistic center that provides them with space in a co-production mode for a deposit or determined rent. These centers, in their multi-genre approach to culture and also offering various art courses for the public, are similar to the cultural centers from the socialism era, but are found mostly in adapted premises, which previously did not serve culture necessarily, as was the trend also abroad in the 1970s and 1980s, often converted station, warehouse or factory buildings. The most significant include the Žilina – Záriečie Station in Žilina, the Garden – Independent Culture Center in Banská Bystrica, Tobacco and Culture Park Barracks in Košice, the A4 – Zero Space, Pisztorý Palace and KC Dunaj in Bratislava, the Creativity and Art House in Bátovce, Lúč Club in Trenčín as well as incubators and public spaces presenting artistic, musical and scenic alternative concepts like Banská Stanica in Banská Štiavnica, Platforms 1-12 at Topoľčany and Cvernovka in Bratislava.

Many cultural centers were originally adapted from industrial premises and seek to offer a diverse cultural program with varied dramaturgy genres. Their priority is to work with a local audience, some even working with memorial spaces. Therefore, in addition to cultural programs, a social and educational program provided or initiated by them is equally important.