the
improv
centre

July 22, 2021

Dear Society Members, Community, and Audience,

We hope this letter finds you safe and healthy.

It has been a devastating 18 months for so many. Our heartfelt condolences are with those who are in grief from losing loved ones during the pandemic. Our thoughts are also with all of those in the arts community who have suffered losses stemming from the closures of theatres and public artistic spaces.

One year has passed since the town halls, focus group sessions, and one-on-one meetings were held. Again, we thank all the voices that came forward to express their thoughts, hurts, disappointments and concerns, as well as ideas and hopes for the future.

Our apologies to our Society members, community, audiences, and staff for any and all of our shortcomings in our efforts to address and rectify the challenges of the past year and a half. And for this we also express our sincere thanks for your continued grace and patience.

This year has been one of reflection, learning, and growth for us. The volunteer Board has taken this time to consider new pathways for meaningful change while navigating the unpredictable financial landscape of the pandemic. We would like to share some of the concrete steps we have taken toward evolving and modernizing this organization.

As of July 2021, we have welcomed nine new members to the Board of Directors. We thank each of them wholeheartedly for volunteering their time, lending their previously unrepresented voices in our organization, and sharing their skills and expertise in areas that have and will continue to greatly help shape our Society as it evolves. We are enthusiastic about the impact these individuals have already made and hopeful that their involvement will not only strengthen this organization as it reopens, but will encourage others to join and participate. We would like to remind our members that these are entirely volunteer Board positions and as you may have noted in their biographies, many are first time volunteer Board members and/or are new to the art of improv so your ongoing support and understanding will be much appreciated. Their stepping up to these roles in such uncertain conditions as a pandemic is hugely valued.

While renewal includes welcoming new members, it also means saying goodbye to others. As announced at the AGM last March, the three remaining Directors from 2020 will be leaving us this year; two will be leaving within the next month and our last Director will remain only to support the new team through their first AGM as a new Board. The next AGM will be scheduled later this Fall.

We were extremely humbled by the turnout at our AGM on March 30th, 2021 and the overwhelming support for the resolutions put forward to modernize and bring change to our Society. These resolutions were born from painful and thorough self-reflection, as well from the voices of our membership who seek rejuvenation and modernization of our Society.

In addition to the steps required to preserve our theatre space, the following actions have also been completed since June 2020:

  • Near complete renewal of the Society’s Board of Directors with a priority of recruiting people from previously underrepresented groups;
  • Amendments to our bylaws, including:
    • setting term limits to Director positions at the Board level;
      creating election criteria for Director positions at the Board level;
    • bringing more clarity to membership criteria;
  • Renewal, strengthening and streamlining of our Values, Code of Conduct and Policies;
  • Changes to our Constitution, including:
    • objectives connected to fostering diversity and inclusion on the Board and throughout the organization;
    • expanding the options for forms of improv when we are able;
      We are committed to an annual review of our foundational documents to ensure they are adapting to serve the modernization and growth of the organisation.

One final vote was taken at the last AGM to retire the name of our Society - Vancouver TheatreSports League. While over the past 40+ years of TheatreSports, there has been so much good - so many great experiences, deep and lasting connections made, audiences entertained, professionals excelling and inspiring, milestones reached - our slowness to adapt our structures to ensure transparency, equity and inclusion also brought pain, frustration, and anger. To symbolize a new chapter for our Society, the membership voted to rename itself, “The Improv Centre”. Our social media and web presence will be changed accordingly in the near future.

There is more work to be done - more learning, listening, and understanding in order to meet our Society’s objectives. As we take steps towards reopening, we are all, as members, recommitting to a values-paved path. It is critical for all our members to walk the values of integrity, safety, collaboration, with a commitment to diversity, inclusivity and equity - both in the art performed on our stage, and the spirit in which we interact with one another.

We thank you - our members, community and audience - for giving us the grace to make thoughtful and achievable change so far. It is our commitment to continue communicating our actions with you. More updates as to our plan moving forward are forthcoming.

As we come closer to bringing the excitement of live improv back to the Improv Centre, we will remain committed to creating an environment of positivity and joy for our members, our audience, and our community.

Sincerely,
The Improv Centre Board of Directors 2021