Theatre Academy of Uniarts Helsinki
The University of the Arts Helsinki launched on 1 January 2013 when the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, Sibelius Academy, and Theatre Academy Helsinki merged.
The need for an arts university had been under discussion for a long time. As early as the 1980s, the Pasila Project included a plan to build a new complex in Pasila, Helsinki, for Sibelius Academy, the University of Art and Design Helsinki, and Theatre Academy Helsinki. The merger of the arts universities was topical all through the 2000s.
In 2010, the ministry of culture and education published a report on how to enhance the role of the arts universities in strengthening the quality, impact, and international competitiveness of Finnish arts and culture. In November 2011, the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, Sibelius Academy, and Theatre Academy Helsinki’s boards approved the merger.
The three academies of the University of the Arts Helsinki have roots deep within the Finnish art education and art history.
The earliest predecessor of the Academy of Fine Arts was the drawing school of the Art Society of Finland, which opened in 1848, Europe’s year of change. The first nationally and internationally renowned Finnish artists—such as Albert Edelfelt, Axel Gallén, Helene Schjerfbeck, and Ellen Thesleff—all studied at the Art Society’s Drawing School.
Since 1939, the academy operated under the Finnish Art Academy as the Finnish Art Academy School. The school became state-owned in 1985, and its name was changed to the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1993, the Academy of Fine Arts became an institution of higher education, and it became a university in 1998.
Sibelius Academy was established as the Helsinki Music Institute in 1882 through a private initiative. One of its students was Jean Sibelius, who later became the institute’s figurehead.
In 1924, the institute’s name was changed to the Helsinki Conservatory of Music as its operations expanded. In 1939, the name Sibelius Academy was introduced. Sibelius Academy became a state organisation in 1980 and a university in 1998.
The roots of the Theatre Academy can be found in the first theatre academy of Finland, which was active from 1866 to 1868, and which worked with the Swedish theatre Nya Teatern. The Swedish theatre school Svenska Teaterskolan was established in 1908 and worked with Svenska Teatern. Finnish-language actors were trained from 1904–1940 at the Student School of the Finnish National Theatre and the private Finnish Stage School. In 1943, the Finnish Theatre School began training students.
Theatre Academy Helsinki was founded in 1979 when the Finnish and Swedish theatre academies merged into a single national, bilingual theatre academy.