Impro Theatre is dedicated to achieving growth in diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) through concrete, sustained, and forward-looking action. Our DE&I Action Committee was created in February 2020 to address these issues and set specific priorities.
The committee was set up to help ensure broad
representation across the entire Impro Theatre community.
Members include people representing our Board of
Directors, Main Company, school faculty, students and
administrative staff. Together, they are committed to boldly
execute inclusive, artistically compelling, and unequivocally
anti-racist programs and policies. The committee meets
weekly, and members serve a minimum one-year period.
In the summer of 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement
compelled us to address DE&I issues with greater urgency.
In June 2020, we issued open letters to our community
expressing our support for the Black Lives Matter
movement and committing to make anti-racism and DE&I
our number one priority to achieve essential and enduring
transformation. In March 2021, the Main Company
Performance Ensemble issued an apology to our
community and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color
(BIPOC) community members, in particular. You can view
these letters by clicking on the links in this paragraph.
Since 2017, the Ellen Idelson Diversity Scholarship has
supported our efforts to bring new voices, perspectives
and experiences to the unscripted theatre community.
Scholarship recipients are typically granted tuition for 12
months of classes at the Impro Theatre School in Los
Angeles. Each year, we typically offer multiple Scholarships,
and the number of Scholarships depends on the number
and quality of applications we receive. CLICK HERE for
more information about the scholarship program.
2020-21 DE&I ACTION COMMITTEE
Impro Theatre Board Members
Main Company / Faculty members
Nick Massouh (former Director of the
Impro Theatre School)
Dan O'Connor (Impro Theatre's
Producing Artistic Director)
Rick Bernstein (Impro Theatre's
Kirsten Farrell (Impro Theatre's
Doc Faryl Saliman Reingold
How to contact the Student
THE ELLEN IDELSON
• DE&I consulting for the organization: We hired DE&I
consultants Patti Digh and Victor Lee Lewis to work across
all facets of the organization to help Impro work toward a
culture of social and racial diversity, equity and inclusion.
• DE&I training for Main Company: We hired Rajkumari Neogy, another specialized DE&I consultant, to work with and educate the Main Company over several weeks. The Main Company has also been working with Patti and Victor for education and coaching.
• Student feedback surveys: We conducted student surveys on DE&I issues and experiences to get community feedback and help inform our DE&I committee, School, Board, and the Main Company about current issues.
• In-class DE&I discussion protocols: For the School, we added a protocol of end-of-class check-ins and discussions to provide a structured opportunity to address DE&I issues that arose during class. The School is continuing to provide training for faculty on these discussions.
• Diversity of school faculty: We hired highly qualified teachers from BIPOC communities for both CORE curriculum classes and brand new elective classes, which have included The Black Aesthetic, Storytelling Through Magical Realism, The Improv Audit and Freestyle. We plan to continue expanding these efforts.
• Free class opportunities for diverse students: We started “Yes, Let’s” program for Ellen Idelson Scholarship applicants, where unclaimed spots in elective classes are offered for free to interested diversity scholarship applicants, selected by a random drawing.
• Training for school faculty: We have conducted weekly meetings to provide professional development and supportive spaces to help faculty members manage classroom conversations surrounding DE&I.
• Facilitated documentary screening and Town Hall: We arranged for 2 community-wide events, both facilitated by DE&I trainer/consultants Patti Digh and Victor Lee Lewis, to increase communication around issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. The screening of the 1994 documentary film “The Color of Fear” fostered conversation about institutional racism and unconscious bias through use of breakout rooms and community discussion. The Town Hall was held the following week.
• Anonymous online feedback system: We established an online, anonymous feedback
system so that Impro community members can anonymously report issues (DE&I issues, or other issues). The feedback system is available by CLICKING HERE. Feedback is read initially by Rick Bernstein, Impro's Managing Director, and then reviewed with relevant individuals.
• 100 Black Improvisers Partnership: We are working with the Black Improv Alliance to participate in the 100 Black Improvisers Partnership, in which Impro will provide scholarships for 5 Black improvisers to take our Intro to Narrative Improv classes together as a cohort, for free. You can learn more about the 100 Black Improvisers Partnership by CLICKING HERE.
• Diversity in show casting: We have encouraged show directors to consider diversity across multiple dimensions when casting shows. This is an ongoing effort.
• Partnering with diverse performing companies: We partnered with Collaborative Artists Bloc, a diverse theatre company whose work explores cultural identity and social change, to present "The Script Tease Project" in October 2020. Upcoming collaborations include performances with diverse companies Cold Tofu (February 20, 2021) and Company of Angels (May 1, 2021).
• Closed-captioning: We are working with different companies and providing closed
captioning for our online shows. We also hope to offer closed captioning in our classes to
• DE&I Facebook Community: We started a private Facebook group for members of the Impro community to discuss and explore issues related to DE&I. We also hope this group provides an opportunity for diverse community members and their allies to collaborate and support one another.
• Land acknowledgements: As a part of all of our shows, we have begun sharing a diversity statement and a land acknowledgement that recognizes Indigenous People.
• Updated Student Handbook: We added accommodation request guidelines and policies to our student handbook, which is distributed to all students at the School.
• Making Impro’s community calendar more inclusive: The DEI Committee has encouraged programming that observes and celebrates a diverse calendar throughout the year.
RECENT & CURRENT PROJECTS OF
THE DE&I ACTION COMMITTEE
DIFFERENT WAYS TO REACH OUT TO US REGARDING DE&I ISSUES
• Email the Student Representatives on the DE&I Action Committee:
• Report DE&I or other issues anonymously through our anonymous feedback system. Feedback is read initially by Rick Bernstein, Impro's Managing Director, and then reviewed with relevant individuals.
• Contact Nick, one of our School Administrators, at email@example.com