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Barker, Stage for Independent Art in Turku
New Dance & Circus performances

Barker, Stage for Independent Art in Turku is a production house founded in 1997. It hosts various dance productions, provides rehearsal space and offers also possibilities for work-in-progress performances and workshops. It serves as a stage for practice and performance of Association’s own dance pieces, visiting acts and co-productions. Barker also hosts a summer residence for dance artists (applications in January-February).

Barker produces and organizes artistically interesting and high-grade dance and circus art performances. We offer opportunities for developing exploratory art by supporting experimentalism. In Barker Theatre it is possible to do especially long-term artistic work.

In Barker theatre you can see high-quality art pieces by local, national and international dance and circus artists. Every year we have performances and workshops by noted foreign artists.

Barker, Stage for Independent Art in Turku is a space for freelance artists maintained by a registered organization called Barker-teatteri yhdistys ry (former Pikinini Meri Production Association). The theatre was founded in 1997 by a group of professional freelance dancers due to the need for new working spaces. Since 2009 Barker Theatre has been an art house for two fields: dance and circus art. With strong professional skills and artistic vision we have created a place where artists can do their art freely. The theatre is in two floors; there is a training studio of 270m2 with sprung floor, and a theatre hall of 304m2 which can be transformed into any shape thanks to the moving seats.

The former Barker textile factory is located in Raunistula area couple of kilometres northeast from the city centre. On the southeast side of the factory site goes a railway heading north and behind that opens the Aura valley. Just next to the factory is the spot where the Vähäjoki River runs into Aurajoki River so forming Koroinen, a spit where the very first Finnish bishopric and the predecessor of a cathedral was placed

Barker Dance Residency

Barker Theatre’s dance residency is arranged during the summer period. The work produced during the residency will be presented on theatre’s fall or spring programme. Any dance artist working in Finland may apply for the residency.

Pikinini Meri

was founded in 1996 to act as an association for freelance dance artists.
The aim was to create working possibilities for independent dance artists. In 1997 Pikinini Meri became registered association and in the same spring the association opened Barker Theatre for practising and performing stage for dance pieces. Barker Theatre is located in Raunistula area, Turku.
The founding members of Pikinini Meri Association and Barker Theatre were dancer/choreographers Tea Kauppila, Marjan Raar and Nina Renvall.
Also photographer Reino Koivula, visual artist Ann Sundholm, actor Bror Österlund, theatre secretaries Sirpa Sutinen and Sanni Rannikko among other active members and non-members have contributed the association and the theatre for their part.

Barker , Stage for Independent Art in Turku

Starting from January 1st 2005 the new official name for Barker Theatre is Barker Theatre, Stage for Independent Art in Turku. With the new name Barker Theatre’s role gets clearer in the field of dance in Turku.
The particular aim of the name change is to help boards allocating funds for art and culture to comprehend the special quality of Barker Theatre and its operation.

Barker Theatre is the first and only space and stage for practising and performing of truly independent dance in Turku. Most of the Finnish dancers are working in the independent section of the dance field. The section is still growing strongly. In relation to growth, the problems in finding spaces for practising and performing are increasing. The financial independence is not the only meaning of the new name: variability, flexibility and unexpectedness are essential features in the ideology of the association and its theatre.


Kritiikin punnukset 2006 -awards

The Turku-based division of The Finnish Critics’ Association has granted 28th annual prizes for local operators in the field of culture. Kilon punnus –award was given to Kari J. Kettula, Programme Manager of Turku Book Fair, for life-work and Puolen kilon punnus –award went to Nina Renvall and Barker Theatre for remarkable action in culture life.

Nina Renvall / Barker Theatre, Stage for Independent Art in Turku

Barker Theatre started in 1997 by voluntary work. In the course of years experimental and cross-over art performances both by visitors and by the association’s central figures have been presented in the theatre. The Incognito Nights held in Barker Theatre - where dancers, theatricals as well as musicians may perform their developing pieces, happenings based on improvisation or quick-reacting performances of the day in a sociable and informal atmosphere – are recognised as unique.

Early in the year 2005 the theatre’s name did get an addition: Stage for Independent Art in Turku. The change of name made definitely clear the significance of Barker-theatre’s role as an alternative, resistant factor provoking debate on its field in Turku. The main architect and the responsible person in this process has been Nina Renvall.

Convertible theatre hall

Measurements of the hall 19m x 16m
Free height 5m up to lighting bridge
Overall height 5,4m
Max. 160 persons
Portable galleries for 100 spectators

Lobby, office, dressing rooms, showers and toilets

Lobby, 74m2
Small kitchen
Beer and wine booth

The lobby has been used as a serving pantry during large events, a small-scale scene for theatre acts, also exhibitions and meetings have been arranged there.

Incognito Nights

Incognito Nights have been part of Pikinini Meri’s activity since its foundation 1997.
Barker Theatre has offered a stage for musicians, actors, poets, acrobats…hard-boiled professionals as well as students starting their career.

Experiments, ideas just taking a more concrete form as well as ready smaller pieces can be executed in Incognito Nights. The performers are mainly professional dancers and students, but also amateurs can take part. Alongside with dance other art forms are welcome.

WOK – improvisation jam
Wok enables creative experiments by dancers, musicians and poets. One can join in even from the audience and hopefully thereby cause alterations to improvisations.

One Opinion  – critic Kaisa Kurikka
The Incognito Nights in Barker Theatre are not stiff and formal; both the performers and the audience can relax and enjoy. The audience watches the performances while having a drink and the performers can test their ideas and put up acts that are not yet finished. I spend the Friday night in restaurant far more pleasantly in Barker Theatre than in the obvious local pub right next door.