Inclusion Statement, Impromiscuous (Stephen Davidson)
Inclusion is at the heart of everything I do and teach as an improviser, because I believe this art form is at its best when it’s the honest and balanced expression of a diverse group of people. I teach active inclusion in every way I can because if we are not conscious of our defaults and biases they can defeat not just our inclusion efforts, but our artistic efforts. The growth and beauty of this art form depends on all of us, but especially those of us who are privileged, putting effort into challenging our own norms, listening openly, educating ourselves, and being willing to experience improv in a new way each time we do it. It depends on us being willing and able to hold space for people who are different from us. It depends on us being willing to let others hold space. This statement is intended as a public representation of my beliefs and commitments, so that students, peers, and collaborators can see who they are working with and what specifically I am doing re: inclusion. It will be updated at least once per year (current version December 2020).
I do not tolerate racism, xenophobia, transphobia, homophobia or other sexual preference based discrimination, body shaming, sexism, classism, ablism, discrimination against those with mental health conditions, sexual harassment or any other forms of discrimination in my classes, panels, or shows. I commit to actively strive to be inclusive in every aspect of my work, to never knowingly do or allow harm, and to continually educate myself about inclusion. I pledge to hear feedback with an open mind, to actively work to right any wrongs, and to cede power when needed to allow for accountability and meaningful change. I will endeavour to make accommodations to allow for full participation in my classes, panels, and shows by anyone who wishes to be involved; if you are unsure what accommodations you may need, please contact me.
I will not knowingly work with people who do not share these values.
There are also improv ombudspeople available if you’d like to speak to a third party (info at the bottom of this document).
My current commitments to inclusion include:
- When co-teaching I commit to an equitable and transparent financial split
- I commit to treat every co-teacher with respect and as an equal
- When interested co-teachers self-identify as POC, D/deaf, disabled, those with mental health conditions, those with long term health concerns, those with speech or language impairments, neurodiverse, blind/partially sighted, LGBTQ+, over 60, or otherwise under-represented in improv I commit to offering them a meeting to discuss working together regardless of experience
- I regularly (at least 4-6 times per year) undertake training in various areas of inclusion, including anti-racism, blind/partially sighted inclusion, neurodiversity, mental health first aid, boundaries, gender, and inclusion of people with disabilities
- I commit to maintaining this level of training, to keep up to date and to continue to centre my understanding of inclusion around lived experiences other than my own
- I commit to use my social media presence to regularly signal boost other improvisers and adjacent artists.
- I commit to a minimum 50% of these posts boosting improvisers who are POC, D/deaf, disabled, those with mental health conditions, those with long term health concerns, those with speech or language impairments, neurodiverse, blind/partially sighted, LGBTQ+, over 60, or those otherwise under-represented in improv.
- When qualified applicants self-identify as POC, D/deaf, disabled, those with mental health conditions, those with long term health concerns, those with speech or language impairments, neurodiverse, blind/partially sighted, LGBTQ+, over 60, or otherwise under-represented in improv I commit to offering them an interview.
- I will endeavour to make accommodations to allow for full participation during the hiring process as requested
- I acknowledge that I am in receipt of racial privilege and commit to being actively anti-racist in the following ways:
- I acknowledge the ongoing effects of colonialism on global culture and art and commit to working against them
- I regularly undertake anti-racist training and workshops, and research on my own time. I commit to maintaining this
- I commit to doing my utmost to educate myself about various kinds of racial and cultural microaggressions that might affect people with whom I’m working, and to act to counter them
Blind/Partially Sighted Inclusion
- I regularly run audio-only online classes and will continue to do so
- Any class, online or in person, can be made fully accessible to a person who is blind or partially sighted on request
- I am working with members of the blind/partially sighted community to feedback on current accessibility efforts
- I am gradually making my website and social media fully accessible to those using screen-readers, and commit to finishing this by January 2021
- I commit to adapting classes, panels, and rehearsals for neurodiverse participants
- I will make rough lesson plans and written instructions available to neurodiverse participants on request, am happy to rephrase or write instructions, meet before or after a class for a debrief, or otherwise make every effort to connect and communicate
- There are scholarship places available for those who need them in every class I offer. There is no set criteria or application form, people need only ask
- Any online class can be made fully accessible for people to phone in and participate as an audio only participant if they do not have access to a computer or to the internet
- 100% of profits from my books, Play Like an Ally and Improvising Gender, go towards supporting free and subsidised improv for those who need it
- In the interest of transparency, this sometimes means offering additional scholarship spots on my own courses or paying for my own time to teach free workshops. This is reflective of the balance between my respect for my own time and that of fellow teachers and my desire to remove financial barriers to participation
- I commit to never hire or cast someone with whom I am or have been romantically or sexually involved. This reflects my desire to maintain healthy power dynamics and healthy dynamics between employees, and between cast members
- If an involvement occurs after I have cast or hired someone I will allow the ombudspeople to decide the fairest way to manage who will stay in the project to allow this commitment to be fulfilled in the fairest way possible
- Because I am a sole practitioner rather than an organisation (or a member of an organisation) where there might be checks on my power, I’ve asked some fellow improvisers to act as ombudspeople. These are third parties with whom any student, cast member, panel guest, or employee can speak if they are not comfortable approaching me. If I have caused or allowed harm, I recognise that people might not be comfortable approaching me directly about this. Ombudspeople have the power to:
- Enforce a refund for any class or course
- Oblige me to undertake further training in any needed areas
- Act as third party aids to any difficult conversations that might need to happen
- Report any feedback to me without revealing the source
- Ombudspeople will change periodically, but will never be people to whom I have romantic or familial ties, or financial ties beyond co-teaching. I’ve chosen people who I believe are 100% comfortable holding me accountable, but I welcome any other third parties to be involved in a discussion if needed. There will always be multiple ombudspeople, so that if a conflict of interest emerges the relevant ombudsperson can withdraw without issue. Ombudspeople will reflect diverse lived experience and/or specific areas of knowledge and expertise.
- Current Ombudspeople:
- David Escobedo firstname.lastname@example.org
- Heather Dickinson email@example.com
- Lucy Fennell firstname.lastname@example.org
- Minder Athwal email@example.com