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ImprovBoston's Safe Space Commitment

Help us Make ImprovBoston a Safe Space for All

 
At ImprovBoston, we are always working hard to build a welcoming, supportive, transparent and inclusive creative environment for our students, performers and audiences alike. Simply put: You have the right to practice your art in a physically and emotionally safe space. You have the right to respect onstage and off. ImprovBoston does not tolerate sexual harassment, discrimination or derogatory behavior. We take seriously our leadership role as one of the country’s biggest nonprofit comedy theaters. We are always learning. We are working literally every day to do better, to be better and to inspire others to do the same. 
 

What To Do If You Or Someone You Know Has An Incident Or Experience To Report

 
We are listening. All Directors, Producers, Instructors, House Managers, daytime administrators, and members of the Board of Directors qualify under our HR policy (and the law) as “supervisors” and are available should anyone have an incident of harassment or discrimination to report. The policy intentionally casts as wide a net as possible so you can report to whomever you are most comfortable with. We understand speaking up isn’t easy and may not be the right choice for everyone. Our goal is a theater where the onus isn’t on you to speak up, but on our family of artists to take care of each other so fully that incidents don’t occur in the first place.
 
A Short list of Administration Contact Info for Reporting*:
Tom Spataro, Managing Director - tom@improvboston.com
Tricia Bitetto, Lead Producer - tricia@improvboston.com
Michael Carr, Comedy School Manager - comedyschool@improvboston.com
Leslie Walstrom, Board Chair - leslie@improvboston.com
 
You may also contact our dedicated HR point-person, independent of our standard reporting structure - report@improvboston.com. Kristie Lasalle is an attorney and member of our Board of Directors.
 
*As we mentioned above, you can also connect with any of the more than 50 supervisors at IB.
 
What happens when a report is made? View an outline of the process.
 
Our Creative Playground Rules
1) Support and be supported.
2) Here, you can be anyone and anything you want to be. Make sure everyone else can, too.
3) Respect physical and emotional boundaries.
4) Offer as much as you listen.
5) Listem as much as you offer.
6) Play to the top of your intelligence and integrity.
7) "Yes, And" each other onstage and off.
8) If you see something wrong, say something so we can make it right.
 

A Few Highlights Of What We’re Doing To Make Our Home Safe For All

 
  • This is our official discrimination and harassment prevention policy. This lives permanently online in the Performer Bulletin Board, accessible to all.

  • We designed an incident/behavior reporting system that makes over 50 supervisors available to anyone with concerns. A “no retaliation” policy further protects those nervous about coming forward.

  • We have established an HR point-person on the Board, independent of the management team, who can be reached by anyone in our community via email 24/7.

  • To protect the creative-side experience, our Artistic Director is isolated from report investigation and any resultant actions  

  • We require all our resident performers, staff, faculty, administrators and Board members to attend an intensive HR Training Session with one of our outside HR consultants, offered twice annually. These experts include Jean Haertl and Ed Mitnick. In addition to running the community-facing sessions, they provide training, guidance, and assistance to the theater's management team year-round.

  • We're committed to making sure every report is taken seriously, handled with sensitivity, confidentiality whenever possible, and followed with appropriate disciplinary/preventative actions after timely, thorough investigations including board-level oversight. Here's a slideshow of our reporting process

  • We installed safety callbuttons backstage in both our theaters routing directly to our front of house staff

  • Through regular Faculty Summits, we raise instructor awareness on issues of harassment and misogyny, racism and stereotyping of all kinds while providing tools for addressing challenges in class directly.

  • We host a series of free workshops for male-identifying and GNB (Gender Non-Binary) performers on how to improvise with respect, awareness and support. We address behavior that is not fit for our stages, rehearsals, or classrooms. For improvisers who identify as women and GNB, we host free workshops on how to succeed with integrity and confidence in difficult scenes by flipping the power dynamic or toxic elements.

  • We routinely update our theater-wide hosting and communications language to present the most inclusive language possible to all our patrons and artists

  • Every 101 class gets our Code of Conduct policy to go over together. The goal of the policy and discussion is to set up a safe creative space for all our students.

  • In 2015, we introduced cast and class "norming” conversations where the instructor or director facilitates a group discussion to build collaboratively agreed on standards of behavior. Respect, trust and support is at the core of what we do and who we are.

  • Our Comedy School Programs now include lessons built into the curriculum on the danger of stereotyping, boxing-in or alienating fellow performers while showing the power of more inclusive and open-minded comedy.

  • We prohibit teacher-student relationships.

  • We distribute Supervisor Welcome Packets that introduce our teachers, producers, administrators, directors and lead staff to their responsibilities when it comes to HR concerns even before they've attended the required HR Training. The packet also serves as a resource and a refresher between trainings. 

  • We have harassment reporting posters and creative support guidelines posted in every rehearsal space and classroom. 

  • We discuss and sign Resident Cast performer agreements stipulating how we can best support and respect each other.

  • We regularly consult on improving best practices with other comedy theaters and leaders around the country

  • We feature partnerships and facilitated workshops outside IB aimed at changing the ingrained culture of misogyny, racism and LGBTQ+-phobia while empowering underrepresented voices in comedy and beyond.

  • We hold community conversations on safety with our core artists, staff and faculty to take questions, collect suggestions, hear concerns and provide open communication channels. 

  • We have had and will continue to have several small group meetings discussing safety and awareness with community members and members of our management team and Board of Directors.  

  • The theater receives, investigates and takes action on sometimes multiple reports per week. Legally, the status and outcomes of investigations and/or actions taken cannot be disclosed. While many actions taken as the result of confidential reports aren't visible to the community, the theater has removed performers from casts, taken away producer/director opportunities, blocked indie artists from the stage, let go of staff, and more to protect the community. 

While we’ve set up more resources than we can cover here, we are by no means finished expanding and improving our community protections. We want you to share your ideas on how we can make IB the best, most welcoming and supportive place to play. Swing by a weekly Coffee Break or a bi-monthly Board Meeting, post in the private Artist Forum on Facebook, shoot us an email or set up a time to talk in more detail one-on-one. Together, we build the creative space where every one of us can take risks, fail, succeed, laugh, support and be supported.