Berlin's independent performing arts community is one of the most well-known and productive in the world. More than 6,000 artists create work in theater, dance and the performing arts, working in 500 independent ensembles and performing at 25 independent venues and institutions. There are also at least 18 children's and youth theaters as well as numerous independent rehearsal and production spaces. Many of the artists and groups living and working in Berlin have become significant trailblazers for current aesthetic developments in recent years. The community is marked by a lively artistic and discursive exchange regarding the present and future of theater and its relationship to the city and society, resulting in a constant stream of new forms and formats.
Berlin's independent performing arts community is heterogeneous and diverse: the artistic search for contemporary forms of expression plays out between established groups and venues that work internationally and continually emerging niches, margins and temporary open spaces. In doing so, conventional genre definitions are thrown into question and tested, points of contact are created between different arts, allowing the theatrical to be discovered in visual art, literature, film or theory and then utilized. New working methods – collectives which question the traditional notions of authority and hierarchies, performers whose lives embody heterogeneity and diversity, groups, venues and formats that allow intercultural exchange to take place at eye level – consciously generate new forms of addressing the public in all facets of participation and watching. The independent performing arts community is a place of experimentation with and for notions of community beyond traditional boundaries: between individual forms of arts, the everyday and "high culture", language, audience and performers, national, sexual and ethnic identities. In the context of changing societies learning to discover heterogeneity and differences as potential, the principle of freedom within the independent performing arts community plays a significant aesthetic and political role.
The number and diversity of independent artists and their infrastructure provides a remarkable richness of forms of production and expression; the simultaneity of resistance and professionalization, international exchange created by venues and production companies and the now-established cultural policy representation structures characterize the independent performing arts community as much as its connections with special research areas and graduate schools at all of the universities in the city.
Berlin's independent performing arts community is a heterogeneous whole that the umbrella project Berlin Diagonale is now offering tours of.