Hoopla!

Hoopla Impro Newsletter


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Diversity and Accessibility Policy

Hoopla aim to make impro open and accessible to everyone.


Hoopla aim to provide a fun, friendly, encouraging, trusting, safe and supportive environment where people can enjoy learning, performing and watching improv.


We believe that everyone can enjoy learning, performing and watching improv regardless of their background. We aim to provide the best training, resources, shows and community that we can to support all improvisers and audiences.


We aim to provide a supportive and welcoming environment to people of all ages, genders, ethnic backgrounds, physical abilities, cultural views, sexual orientations, religions and nationalities, and are currently working to encourage greater diversity and accessibility in the improv scene.


Gender


What we’re already doing:


- Half of our teacher team are female.

- We helped produce all-female groups including All Made Up and The Pina Colliders. We also book a number of other all-female groups like Breaking & Entering, JCB, The Glenda Jackson Collective and more.

- We helped produce and continue to promote The Playground, a night of all female improv. The show isn’t marketed as “all-female” as we felt the improv should speak for itself rather than “female” being the angle.

- We ensure balance in genders when casting new groups.

- We ensure a balance in genders across each season when booking groups. Due to group availability this isn’t currently possible to ensure night by night, so some nights will be more male, some nights more female, but over the whole run of nights we have a pretty good balance.

- We use targetted advertising to especially connect with female improvisers and help our courses and audience achieve and equal gender split. This does vary from course to course, so some are more male, some more female.

- Our social media following is around half male half female.

- We make sure women are equally represented in our social media posts, photographs and web content.

- We have a number of female diversity officers available for improvisers to speak to.

- We are introducing a code of conduct policy for our teachers and improvisers.

- We are introducing more training for our teachers on how to cope with sexist students and how to create a supportive environment.

- We are introducing diversity officers who monitor courses and shows at random to check the code of conduct policy is being followed.


What we are aiming to do over the next 1-2 years:


- We could monitor each course as it books up to make sure each course has an equal gender split. At the moment there is a good split of gender across our courses as a whole, but it varies from individual course to course.

- We could get more feedback directly from female improvisers.

- We could better promote our code of conduct policy.

- We could put on some free training, workshops, and discussions for improvisers.

- We need to talk to transgender groups to understand better how to incorporate them in the impro scene.


Race, Ethnicity, Religions, Nationalities, Cultures


What we’re already doing:


- Our courses currently have quite a good mix of backgrounds, nationalities, ethnicity etc. This is especially true for our beginners improv courses, which are very international.

- Where possible we try to prioritise booking groups that have greater diversity in the cast or may be of interest to new communities.

- We’re currently working with Theatre Delicatessen to bring improv to teenagers from different ethnic backgrounds in South London.

- We individually encourage improvisers of different ethnic backgrounds, by sending them casting calls or putting them in touch with performing groups.

- We have a new diversity officer of asian origin who is going to work with us to improve engagement with people of different ethnic backgrounds.

- We have a code of conduct in place for improvisers, teachers and students to help prevent racism in the improv scene.

- We make sure people of different backgrounds are represented in our social media posts, photographs and web content.


What we are aiming to do over the next 1-2 years:


- There is a shortage of black, asian and ethnic minority improvisers performing in shows. For some reason the mix of people on our courses isn’t fully translating into our shows, so we need to investigate what’s happening.

- We need to chat to improvisers and community groups from black, asian and ethnic minority backgrounds and work out how we could support those groups more.

- We need to advertise out of our usual circles (google, facebook, twitter) to access new communities.

- We could put on free taster sessions at community centres and similar to access different groups.

- We could better promote our code of conduct policy.

- We could put on some free training, workshops, and discussions for improvisers.


Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender


What we’re already doing:


- We have LGBT people available to talk to on our list of diversity officers.

- We have LGBT people on our core teaching team.

- We have LGBT people in our core show teams.

- We have introduced code of code policies and training for our teachers.


What we are aiming to do over the next 1-2 years:


- We don’t currently have any LGBT events, so we could put some of those on.

- We need to talk to LGBT improvisers to find out if there is anything else we can do.

- We could bring in open training for all improvisers.

- We could form LGBT performance groups.

- We could directly advertise to an LGBT audience for courses and shows.

- We could put on free taster sessions at community centres and similar to access different groups.


People who have a physical disability


What we’re already doing:


- We’re gradually moving our worskhops out of non-accessible buildings and into fully wheelchair accessible buildings. We use The Nursery, Kobi Nazrul Centre, St. Hugh’s Hall and Theatre Deli which are all fully accessible. We also use Poor School and Charles Dickens School which can be wheelchair accessible if we know in advance.

- We have training days with our teachers where we swap notes on how to fully incorporate wheel chair users in workshops.

- Wheelchair users and people with other physical disabilities can be fully involved in workshops, as we talk and work with them to find options that work for each exercise.

- We have a number of optional show venues to enable wheelchair users to be in end of course shoes.


What we are aiming to do over the next 1-2 years:


- We need to make our main show venue wheelchair accessible. At the moment it’s not. We may be able to get Arts Council funding to build a lift at the venue, if the venue allows and it is structurally possible. This is currently in the early stages so we need to speed this up.

- We need to talk to wheelchair users who have done our courses and get feedback on how we could improve things.

- We need a diversity officer who is also a wheelchair user and able to advise us.

- We need to advertise out of our usual circles (google, facebook, twitter) to access new communities.

- We could put on free taster sessions at community centres and similar to access different groups.


People who have a mental illness or learning disability


What we’re already doing:


- We’re running free courses ongoing at St. Mungo’s Broadway Recovery College, a charity for homeless, vulnerable, unemployed or lower income people. These courses are free and open to all.

- We’re receiving training as part of the St. Mungo’s work on working with homeless people, drug users and people who have a mental illness or learning disability.

- We have informal catch ups and help with Lady G, Gudrun Fritz, who is running Magic Mad Hat, improv workshops for people with dementia.

- We have a diversity officer who is a trained mental health nurse.


What we are aiming to do over the next 1-2 years:


- We could promote the St. Mungo’s work better to get more students coming along.

- We could encourage other improvisers to volunteer to teach, so that the recovery college could put on more courses.

- We could also volunteers at Cardboard Citizens or similar theatre companies that also work with people going through tough times.

- We could formally support Lady G and Magic Mad Hat and offer her more help in promoting her work and volunteers to help her run it.

- We could better promote the availability of our diversity officers.

- Our diversity officers could give our teaching staff, and the wider improv scene, more training on common mental health problems and learning difficulties.

- We could put on free taster sessions at community centres and similar to access different groups.


Fair pay to teachers and performers


What we’re already doing:


- We pay our teachers more than other improv companies and above the adult education market rate, to ensure we can get and support the best improv teachers for our team.

- 100% of profits from show go directly to performers, front of house volunteers and tech volunteers. While it might not be much we do make sure it is fair.

- Hoopla doesn’t take any profit from shows.


What we are aiming to do over the next 1-2 years:


- We could put on bigger shows with a larger audience so that performers are getting paid a decent sum per show. This would require a large amount of work to make happen though, and we don’t currently have any plans for this as we are focusing on other areas of this diversity policy first.

- We could apply for funding for shows, but this would be totally new to us as we have never received any funding. We aren’t currently looking into this as we are focusing on other areas of this diversity policy first.


Unemployed or Lower Incomes


What we’re already doing:


- Our courses are already cheaper than most other major improv companies in London.

- People can pay for courses by installments, and we are happy for the second payment to come later in the course if this makes it easier.

- We also do concessions or free places for people on lower incomes.

- We only charge £5 or near for shows, and give free places to students on courses and their friends, to make shows available for all.

- We run a large number of free shows and workshops each year.

- In addition to courses we also keep a number of lower priced drop-in style workshops available.

- We’re running free courses ongoing at St. Mungo’s Broadway Recovery College, a charity for homeless, vulnerable, unemployed or lower income people. These courses are free and open to all.


What we are aiming to do over the next 1-2 years:


- We could promote the St. Mungo’s work better to get more students coming along.

- We could encourage other improvisers to volunteer to teach, so that the recovery college could put on more courses.

- We could also volunteers at Cardboard Citizens or similar theatre companies that also work with people going through tough times.

- We could advertise our concessions or free places better.

- We need to advertise out of our usual circles (google, facebook, twitter) to access new communities.

- We could put on free taster sessions at community centres and similar to access different groups.


Homeless or living in vulnerable situation


What we’re already doing:


- We’re running free courses ongoing at St. Mungo’s Broadway Recovery College, a charity for homeless, vulnerable, unemployed or lower income people. These courses are free and open to all.

- We’re receiving training as part of the St. Mungo’s work on working with homeless people, drug users and mentally ill.


What we are aiming to do over the next 1-2 years:


- We could promote the St. Mungo’s work better to get more students coming along.

- We could encourage other improvisers to volunteer to teach, so that the recovery college could put on more courses.

- We could also volunteers at Cardboard Citizens or similar theatre companies that also work with people going through tough times.

- We need to advertise out of our usual circles (google, facebook, twitter) to access new communities.


Older Ages


What we’re already doing:


- We are able to adapt all our workshop exercises to suit older people if needed.

- We don’t have an upper age limit on any of our courses.

- We have informal catch ups and help with Lady G, Gudrun Fritz, who is running Magic Mad Hat, improv workshops for people with dementia.


What we are aiming to do over the next 1-2 years:


- Older people are currently under represented in both courses and shows.

- We need to advertise out of our usual circles (google, facebook, twitter) to directly advertise to older people for courses and shows.

- We could help out Lady G and Magic Mad Hat more formally and work with them more.

- We could partner with other theatre companies that work with older people.

- We could volunteer more with homes and community centres.


Younger Ages


What we’re already doing:


- We’re currently working with Theatre Delicatessen to bring improv into schools in the South London area, and also to set up a youth improv club at their new community space in Camberwell.

- We’re funding free school taster sessions to help schools understand the benefits of improv.

- We informally meet with Lucy Fennell from Improv for Schools to swap notes and give advice.

- We’re working in partnership with Carleen MacDermid from C3Something.

- We’ve previously worked with a variety of schools and built up experience and testimonials which we could use to teach at other schools.

- We are unable to have under 18s on our public evening courses due to legal and insurance limitations.


What we are aiming to do over the next 1-2 years:


- We could have a more formal meeting with Lucy Fennell from Improv for Schools, and other improv teachers interested in working with younger people, and set up a coordinated effort.

- We could set up, or join an existing, improv for younger people organisation external to Hoopla so that all improv companies are coordinated in offering improv to younger people.

- We could run ongoing fundraising shows and crowdsourcing events to fund the above organisation.

- We could apply for arts council funding for the above organisation.

- Once funded the new organisation could provide free improv workshops to schools to help give younger people access to improv.

- We could put on free taster sessions at community centres and similar to access different groups.


This document is open to feedback:


Our Code of Conduct & Diversity Policies come from recent consultation with various improvisers, performers, students and diversity officers.


We also received advice and information from other theatre companies, organisation and unions.


We are now at the stage of receiving public feedback, and we’d appreciate your thoughts. If there is anything you would like to add or change please us at hooplaimpro@gmail.com.