The European Theatre Convention (ETC) was an idea launched by Daniel Benoin, former Director of Comédie de Saint Etienne, (at present director of Théâtre de Nice). He thought it was about time to open up the European borders and for the theatres to start exchanging their work and their personnel. He asked his friend Jean-Claude Drouot (Director of the National Theatre in Brussels) and Heribert Sasse (Director of Staatliche Schauspielbühnen Berlin) to join him and signed the founding statutes of the European Theatre Convention in November 1987.
The initial objective of the network was to install a system to support, financially and technically, the exchanges of any personnel (artistic, technical and administrative) from one structure to another. The ETC also wished to encourage the exchange of performances between different countries and to bridge the language gap that exists in the spoken theatre.
Among the many projects that the ETC has created we could mention The Public of European theatres which allowed any person with a subscription in one theatre member to be automatically member to another; the project theatres of Europe: mirror of the refugee populations which was supported by the European commission in April 2002 and resulted in workshops, colloquia and the writing of 10 new plays and their productions; The center for young directors which was located in the South of France and supported and offered a structure for young directors to work together with young actors and young authors.
The ETC has also organized 7 major European festivals:
- Eastern Europe in 1989 in Saint-Etienne, France
- Immigrant culture in 1992 in Bologna, Italy
- Writing today in 1995 à Luxembourg
- South North Dialogue in 1997 in Stockholm, Sweden
- European scenes in 1999 in Nice , France
- Eurothalia in 2002 in Bratislava, Slovakia
- Mej(ni)fest in 2004 in Nova Gorica Slovenia.
The ETC has also contributed and supported four editions of the Bonner Biennale (from 1996 on) and the NEUE STUCKE AUS EUROPA festival in Wiesbaden.
The first delegation office of the ETC was established in Lisbon, in Teatro Dona Maria. In1995 the office moved to Brussels and in 2005 to Paris, where was located in the premises of the National Center of Theatre (CNT). In 2011, the ETC executive office opened at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. At the same time, the ETC became a partner of the European House for Culture with its EU representation office in Brussels.
In 2005, after 17 years, the presidency was passed from Daniel Benoin to Jean-Claude Berutti. In 2011, Dubravka Vrgoc was appointed as first woman ETC president.