1 (5) 8..2012Nordic Drama Corner‟s Business and Service OfferingNordic Drama Corner (NDC) is the largest theatrical agency in Finland, with a stronginternational dimension. The company’s mission is to find plays for theatres and theatresfor plays. It’s match-making between plays and stages.NDC is an IPR business. The company licenses performing rights of plays. The businessconsists of domestic, import and export trade. Traditionally, the main focus of the trade hasbeen on imports of the plays to Finland. NDC‟s roots in import date back to 1920‟s. Longexperience in import and strong brand among international agencies are strengths that formalso the basis for the export. NDC offers Finnish theatres a wide selection of foreign plays andmusicals and the majority of the foreign plays in Finland are licensed through the agency. NDChas agreements with major agents in New York, London, Paris, Berlin and other importanttheatre hubs. The total turnover was around 613 000 euros in 2010 (profitability 16,3 %).During the last ten years when Finnish drama has been strongly flourishing, NDC has expandedits activities into promoting the top Finnish playwrights domestically and internationally.Especially the export of the Finnish plays is seen as a growth area and has been the focus inthe Luovimo project. The export mission is to take Finnish plays to the world stage.Year 2011 was the most successful for NDC‟s export so far. There were 21 productions ofNDC‟s Finnish plays in repertoires of foreign theatres. “The Fundamentalist” by Juha Jokelapremiered in Oslo, New York and Vilnius. The New Yorker named the performance as one ofthe NY Fringe Festival‟s highlights. Altogether Jokela‟s plays have been played 21 times inFinland and 11 abroad. Mika Myllyaho‟s plays premiered in Estonia, Lithuania, Russia,Belorussia and Italy. By now, “Panic”, “Chaos” and “Harmony” have been produced outside ofFinland 16 times in ten countries. The latest premiere of “Panic” was in a commercial theatre,St. Georges Théâtre, in Paris.Why Finnish Drama?The Finnish theatre field is strong; its infrastructure, contents and know-how are on a high level.Theatre is enormously popular in Finland. Each year, 3.6 million theatre-goers see productionsin a theatre network spanning the entire country.In recent 10 years, due to a strong theatre cluster, wide theatre network and high qualitydramaturgy education, Finnish theatres have experienced an unprecedented surge of newdomestic drama. Such success plays as “A Mobile Horror” by Juha Jokela, “The Big Bad Wolf”by Katja Krohn and “Panic” and “Chaos” by Mika Myllyaho have been crucial in thisdevelopment. These plays have been performed in number of theatres around Finland and
2 (5) 8..2012lately also abroad. The contemporary Finnish drama has reached the level of internationalinterest.Many top Finnish dramatists have chosen Nordic Drama Corner to represent them. As NDC hasgood relations with international agents, they saw the possibility of international growth. Finnishplays were offered to NDC‟s import partners. However, it turned out that they were not alwaysthe best partners in export and the import countries were not the proper export markets for theFinnish drama. For example, strong import markets such as UK and USA are so saturated withdomestic production that there is hardly space for NDC‟s export products. Therefore, newmarkets needed to be discovered!NDC‟s targets at LuovimoWithin the Luovimo project‟s export perspective, NDC‟s main target was to find new exportmarkets with high potential. The focus for market studies was set in Latin America which was anarea previously very little known in NDC. Still, there had been signals about its potential.Finpro‟s Americas office started to work with NDC in systematic market study.The second target was to coach NDC to evaluate and develop their international business skills,partner network and brand in order to draft their internationalization path and become aware ofrelated financing options.Internationalization pathVision and targetsNDC‟s vision for internationalization:- Export of Finnish drama will be a profitable business.- NDC is known internationally as an export agent.NDS‟s objectives:- to triple NDC‟s export income- improve international sales skills and partner networks.StrategyNDC„s internationalization strategy is the systematic increase in exports to selected andprioritized countries. The company looks for stronger sales partners and selects carefully itspartner agents and customers. Sales and marketing will be developed in target countries fromreactive to proactive sales. Top playwrights and new texts are invested on.International partner management
3 (5) 8..2012During Luovimo NDC has thoroughly evaluated their existing agent system, and searched fornew partner candidates in Latin America.It turned out that the sales partner systems differ very much by the market: some have veryspecialized professional agents, some are totally lacking commercial agents. NDC may haveone or more sales partners in each country or even direct sales to theatres. In the Anglo-Saxoncountries, agent business model is well developed. In many other countries, professional agentsare less common. In Latin American countries, straight agreements with producers are also anoption.MarketingMeans of NDC‟s international marketing are composed of personal sales visits, activities of theiragent partners, maintaining the extensive customer and partner management system,playwright brochures in several languages, website, language area customized newsletters, andmarketing cooperation with the Finnish organizations, as the Finnish Cultural and AcademicInstitutes and TINFO - Theatre Info Finland.Target marketsAt Luovimo, the focus was in Latin America: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.These Spanish-speaking markets have over 240 million people and their theatre industries aregrowing strongly. Alone in Buenos Aires, there were 2.3 million theatre visits in 2006. MexicoCity has more than 120 theatres. As much as 90 % of the Peruvian theatre repertoire is foreign.These figures manifest the possibilities. Through the useful market studies realised by theFinpro Americas office, NDC found out that these markets actually represent a great possibilityfor them.NDC‟s other export countries were evaluated for their internationalization model: partnerships,market knowledge and conclusions were conducted by-country basis.The Nordic countries, Estonia and Germany are strong export countries to be continued toinvest. Latvia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic are countries to be strengthened. Dormantcountries are France, United Kingdom and United Stated. So called question mark countries areSpain and Poland.What was particularly interesting in the Nordic Drama case?Nordic Drama Corner has had a strong focus on importing foreign plays. The Finnish drama hasbeen flourishing during the last years and there are many playwrights in Finland eager to gointernational. The number of foreign productions of Finnish plays has been rising relativelyrapidly. When export activities were started in year 2006, there were only three foreignproductions, whereas last year, number of foreign premiers of NDC‟s Finnish plays was 15.
4 (5) 8..2012Resources, competences and know how neededThe NDC staff is comprised of experienced theatre professionals from dramaturgy andjurisprudence to business persons. Five of six employees are working mainly with imports. Theexport coordinator is focusing full time in export, while the others do export activities part of theirwork time.What do you consider were the key success factors and enablers supporting theinternationalization process?NDC‟s success factors are the top level playwrights and their high quality work, NDC‟s stronginternational brand after long presence on the field and extensive Finnish and foreignpartnership network. But creating success demands patience. It doesn‟t happen suddenly that aFinnish playwright breaks through in a new market. Continuous marketing is needed as well asgood translations. In addition, the targeted market has to be known well, its characteristics,earning logics and market potential. It is also important to be able to manage the sales channelsand find good partners. In this sense, on the Luovimo project, it has been useful to work oncategorizing the markets and building up proper partner profiles.In addition to the market studies produced in the Luovimo project, NDC was also able to realisefirst visits to Chile and Argentina. This allowed the company to learn more about businesspossibilities and start negotiations with potential partners. In Mexico, NDC started a promotionalwork which culminates in the DramaFest 2012. It‟s a festival presenting NDC‟s playwrights andFinnish theatre.What have been the most important challenges, risks and marketbarriers (in general or by market area)?The financing of internationalization is a challenge for a company like NDC. At present, inaddition to the own financing, funding of private foundations, the Kone Foundation and theKordelin Foundation, the Ministry of Culture and Education, the Ministry of Labour and theEconomy (Luovimo) have been the largest single sources. The Finnish government‟s culturalexport financing (2007-2011) was very welcome and opened new perspectives for creativesector‟s internationalization. But what is the future of financing for the creative sectorcompanies? Read the 7 findings in internationalizing creativity from Luovimo companies at http://www.finpro.fi/luovimo/scaling-up-creativity