Theatre Academy's history

Theatre Academy was founded in 1979 when the Finnish and Swedish theatre academies merged into a single national and bilingual theatre academy. The Central Library of Theatre and Dance became also part of the academy at that time.

From polytechnic to higher education institution

The birth of Theatre Academy coincided with major reforms and revolutions within the worlds of academia and the arts in the 1960s and 1970s. Dr Timo Kallinen's book "Teatterikorkeakoulun synty" chronicles how Theatre Academy evolved from a polytechnic school to a higher education academy.

Key years of the Theatre Academy

Key years of the Theatre Academy

1866–68 Finland's first theatre school operates at the Nya Teatern.


1904–40 Finnish-language actors are trained at the Student School of the Finnish National Theatre and in the private Finnish Stage School.


1908 The Swedish theatre school, Svenska Teaterskolan, is established at the Svenska Teatern.


1943 The Finnish Theatre School opens. The first rector of the school is the distinguished theatre leader Vilho Ilmari, who stays at the helm until 1963.


1956 The Central Library of Theatre opens.


1962 The higher education department of the Finnish Theatre School begins to train directors and dramaturges.


1971 The acting department and the higher education department are merged into one. The merger establishes the joint education of actors, directors and dramaturges.


1973 The first continuing professional education programmes start.


1979 The Finnish and Swedish-language schools are merged into a single national and bilingual theatre academy. The Central Library becomes part of the academy and a training centre opens at the library.


1983 The dance programme opens to its first students.


1986 The sound and lighting design programme opens to its first students.


1988 The doctoral programme is established. The Department of Lighting and Sound Design moves to Tampere.


1991 The first Licentiate of Arts/Theatre and Drama degree is completed at the academy.


1992 The academy moves from its facilities in Eira and Töölö to the Helsinki Hall of Culture and the nearby industrial facility Paahtimo. Only the Dance Department and the Department of Lighting and Sound Design stay at the old premises.


1993 The new facilities of the Department of Lighting and Sound Design are completed in Tampere.


1994 The Departments of Directing and of Dramaturgy are merged into one.


1995 The academy adopts a two-cycle degree structure leading to a bachelor or master degree. The Central Library of Theatre and Dance moves to Paahtimo. The Helsinki Act festival is launched.


1996 The Department of Art Pedagogy opens. The Degree Programme in Musical Theatre opens as part of the Department of Acting.


1997 The teacher training master programme is launched at the Department of Art Pedagogy.


1998/99 The Nordic master programme in theatre starts.


1999 The Theatre Academy celebrates its 20th anniversary. The first Doctor of Arts/Theatre and Drama degree is completed at the academy.


2000 On 1 June, the Theatre Academy moves to new facilities on Haapaniemenkatu. The official opening ceremony is held on 18 January 2001.


2001 The Degree Programme in Performing Arts and Theory is launched.


2003 The Department of Dance celebrates its 20th anniversary.


2004 The Theatre Academy celebrates its 25th anniversary.


2006 The Department of Lighting and Sound Design celebrates its 20th anniversary.


2007 The Department of Lighting and Sound Design moves back to Helsinki from Tampere. The Department of Dance and Theatre Pedagogy celebrates its 10th anniversary.


2009 The Theatre Academy turns 30 and celebrates its first doctoral conferment ceremony.


2010 With the new Universities Act, the Theatre Academy's legal status changes from a government accounting office to a public corporation.


2013 The Theatre Academy Helsinki, the Academy of Fine Arts and Sibelius Academy merge to become the University of the Arts Helsinki.

Rectors 1979–2012

Rectors 1979–2012

Eero Melasniemi 1.8.1979–31.12.1982

Jouko Turkka 1.1.1983–31.7.1985

Outi Nyytäjä 1.8.1985–31.3.1987 (on leave from 1 January-31 March 1987)

Marianne Möller 1.1.1987–31.7.1988 (deputy until 31 March 1987, acting until 31 July 1988)

Marja-Liisa Martón  1.8.1988–31.7.1990

Raila Leppäkoski 1.8.1990–31.7.1991

Kari Rentola 1.8.1991–31.7.1997 *

Lauri Sipari 1.8.1997–31.7.2005

Paula Tuovinen 1.8.2005–31.12.2012


* In accordance with section 20a of the decree on the Theatre Academy (813/91), the rector and vice-rector were elected from among the full-time teachers of the academy on 1 August 1991. Prior to that, the rector and vice-rector were appointed positions.

Assistant rectors and vice-rectors 1979–2012

Assistant rectors and vice-rectors 1979–2012

Marianne Möller  1.8.1979–31.12.1982

Johan Simberg  1.1.1987–31.7.1988

Marianne Möller 1.8.1988–31.5.1989 (on leave 1.6.1989–31.5.1991)

Johan Simberg 1.9.1989–31.7.1990 (deputy)

Martin Kurtén 1.8.1990–31.5.1991

Johanna Enckell 1.8.1991*–31.12.1992

Lauri Sipari  1.1.1993–31.12.1996

Marja-Liisa Kuuranne-Autelo 1.1.1997–31.7.1997

Marjo Kuusela 1.8.1997–31.7.2000

Juha-Pekka Hotinen  1.8.2000–31.7.2005

Erik Söderblom 1.8.2005–31.10.2009

Maarit Ruikka 1.1.2010–31.12.2012
Esa Kirkkopelto 1.1.2010–31.12.2012


* By the amendment of the decree on the Theatre Academy (813/91), the assistant rector's post was changed to vice-rector and became an elected position open to full-time teachers as of 1 August 1991.

Professors 1979–2016

Professors 1979–2016

Fixed-term posts and deputy posts are not differentiated from tenured posts on the list.



Acting (professorship established on 1 August 1981)

Jouko Turkka 1.8.1981–31.12.1982        

Sarkola Asko 1.1.1983–31.7.1985          

Valkama Ritva 1.8.1985–31.8.1988 (on leave 1.8.1987–31.8.1988)

Kurtén Martin 17.4.1989–31.12.1994 *

Idman Dick 1.1.1995–30.4.2001

Söderblom Erik 1.1.2001–31.10.2009

Idman Dick 1.1.2011–31.12.2015

Carlsson Anders 1.1.2016 – 31.12.2020

* By the Theatre Academy's decision on 9 February 1989, the post was moved to the Swedish-language department as of 1 April 1989.


Acting (established 1.8.1991)

Heiskanen Kari  1.1.1992–31.12.1996

Leppäkoski Raila 10.2.1997–30.4.2003

Vierikko Vesa 1.8.2002–31.7.2012

Björkman Hannu-Pekka 1.2.2013–31.1.2018


Acting (established 1.8.1992)

Väänänen Kari  1.11.1992–28.2.1998

Groth Marcus 1.8.1998–31.12.2002

Outinen Kati 1.8.2002–31.7.2013

Knihtilä Elina 1.8.2013–31.7.2018


Directing (established 1.8.1985)

Turkka Jouko 1.8.1985–31.12.1988

Leppäkoski Raila 1.1.1989–30.6.1995  (acting rector from 1 August 1990–31 July 1991)

Korhonen Kaisa 1.8.1995–31.7.2000

Malmivaara, Juha 1.8.2000–31.7.2005

Myllyaho Mika  1.8.2005–31.12.2005

Ruikka  Maarit 1.8.2005-31.12.2015

Lavaste Saana 1.1.2016–31.12.2020


Dramaturgy (established 1.8.1991)

Sipari Lauri   1.8.1991–31.12.1996

Saisio Pirkko  1.1.1997–30.6.2002

Virtanen Harri 1.1.2003–31.12.2006

Ruohonen Laura 1.6.2008–31.5.2013

Numminen Katariina 1.6.2013–31.7.2019


Theatre Research (established on 1 August 1999)*

Paavolainen Pentti  1.8.1998–31.12.2001


*On the basis of the collective agreement of university and research institute administrators (17 February 1998), the assistant professor's post was changed to a professor's post by the rector's decision of 15 April 1998.


Artistic Research (established 1.1.2002)

Paavolainen Pentti 1.1.2002–31.7.2007

Kirkkopelto Esa 1.8.2007–31.7.2017

Artistic Research (established 1.8.2012)

Rouhainen Leena 1.8.2012–31.7.2017


Live Art and Performance Studies, LAPS (established 1.8.2003)

Arlander Annette 1.8.2001–31.7.2012 *

Langenbach Ray 1.8.2013–31.7.2018


* Arlander was appointed as an acting professor for a fixed period until the official adoption of the post on 1 August 2003.



Dance (established 1.8.1985)

Hämäläinen Soili 1.10.1988–31.12.1994

Kuusela Marjo 1.1.1995–31.12.2008

Monni Kirsi 1.1.2009–31.12.2018


Dance (establsihed 1.8.1990)*

Kitti Tommi  1.8.1990–31.7.1991           

Koivisto Ulla 1.8.1991–31.7.1992           

Kvarnström Kenneth 19.8.1993–31.5.1994         

Raatikainen Arja 15.8.1997–31.7.1998         

Sirén Ervi  1.8.1998–28.2.2007

Tenhula Ari  1.8.2007–31.7.2018


*The assistant professor of dance position was eliminated on 1 January 1995 by the rector's decision of 20 December 1994 and replaced by the Professor of Dance. The post could not be filled immediately, and it was covered by temporary staff for the first three years. On 15 April 1998, the post was changed to a professor's post, which allowed it to be filled by an invitation procedure.


Lighting and Sound Design

Lighting Design (established 1.8.1991)

Siegwulf Turek 1.9.1994–31.7.1999 (several leaves in 1994-1999)

Uimonen Markku 1.1.2000–31.12.2014

Humalisto Tomi 1.1.2015–31.12.2019


Sound Design (established 1.8.2002)

Liimatainen Juhani 1.8.2002–31.7.2015

Kauppinen Jari 1.8.2015 – 31.7.2020


Theatre and Dance Pedagogy

Theatre and Dance Pedagogy (established 1.1.2006 *)

Anttila Eeva, Dance Pedagogy 1.1.2006–31.12.2020                           


* By the rector's decision of 9 February 2005, the field of the professorship was assigned as either dance pedagogy or theatre pedagogy depending on the appointed candidate.

Secretaries and administrative directors 1979–2012

Secretaries and administrative directors 1979–2012

Vilja Blummé 1.8.1979–31.12.1985 secretary (on leave 1.9.1985–31.12.1985)

Anna-Riitta Piilonen  1.9.1985–31.12.1985 deputy secretary

Johanna Haavikko 1.1.1986–31.7.1986 temporary secretary

Jukka-Pekka Timonen 8.1986–31.7.1988 additional secretary until 31.8.1987, acting administrative director 1.9.1987–31.7.1988

Riitta Väisänen 15.8.1988–31.12.2002 administrative director

Maarit Hildén 1.3.2003–5.8.2007 administrative director

Kirsi Munck 6.8.2007–31.12.2008 deputy administrative director

Esa Hämäläinen 1.1.2008–30.9.2011 administrative director