The National Theatre of Iceland: Culture in Survival Mode in Time of Crisis

Throstur Olaf Sigurjonsson*, Lára Jóhannsdóttir, Svala Gudmundsdottir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


When the pandemic hit in March 2020, the National Theatre of Iceland had still not yet implemented many of its planned changes following a recruitment of a new CEO. The National Theatre and all performing arts institutions were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the core of the theatre experience typically involves gatherings where social distancing is challenging. For approximately half of the pandemic, all theatres were closed and for the other half, there were severe restrictions. All guests were required facemasks and social distancing needed to be respected, reducing the number of spectators for each event. Many theatre lovers talked of the difficulty in experiencing the “magic” from live performances with the audience hidden behind masks, since it was difficult for actors to feed off the crowd’s reaction. The new director was faced with a significant problem. This chapter discusses how to get the theatre into survival mode. How the new CEO should approach the initiatives underway? And, did the theatre have the institutional resilience necessary to maintain its positive impact on Icelandic society?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCross-Driven Institutional Resilience : Case Studies of Good Governance in Europe during the Covid-19 Pandemic
EditorsThrostur Olaf Sigurjonsson, José M. Ruano, Alina Georgiana Profiroiu, Saule Maciukaite-Zviniene, Kosjenka Dumančić
Number of pages20
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)9783031318825, 9783031318856
ISBN (Electronic)9783031318832
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Cite this