What Happens When There’s a Problem?

March 10, 2021

Hello everyone!

Last week we removed the video recording and post for an improv set that appeared on our channel, in response to feedback about the content of the set and our subsequent review.

We wanted to make a post about this because it’s important both to be transparent and to recognize that even when there are best intentions, improv is an art form with an increased risk of causing harm due to its spontaneous nature.  That risk implies an obligation for us all to put in work to protect the community and repair when things go wrong, big or small.  The worst thing we can do is deny that problems come up in improv – we must work to identify and fix them.

And so this is a good opportunity to remind everyone of some important things at Highwire Improv related to our core values and what they mean in practice:

1. Highwire Improv puts community first, more specifically we prioritize the physical, artistic, and psychological safety of our community members, and recognize we all have a part in actively building a safe and supportive environment.

This provides a general rule for decision making that says that if there’s something going on that hurts someone in the community or makes them uncomfortable, we’re going to err on the side of stopping that thing, even if it doesn’t bother most people.  Safe improv is the only way to have good improv!

2. To that end – if there’s ever any content on the Highwire Improv virtual stage that you find objectionable or disturbing, even if it doesn’t seem to violate the Highwire Improv Code of Conduct, we hope you’ll let us know, both so we can help, and so that we can review it, and consider whether further action is needed.

You can always report an issue of any kind here: Highwire Complaint Form (which allows for anonymous reporting), or by emailing highwireimprov@gmail.com (which is not anonymous).

3. Organizationally, Highwire Improv is going to make mistakes, and it’s our responsibility to be transparent about those mistakes and take action based on those mistakes.  To that end, if you report an issue, you can expect that you will receive an Incident Report that will contain:

  • Information about what issue you raised
  • What the Highwire Improv team investigated and found
  • What actions have been taken in direct response to the issue
  • What retrospective learning occurred, and what actions will be taken to prevent similar issues in the future.

These will be made available privately to the submitter, unless they wish to make the report public.  What will always be public is a record of how many issues have been raised, and how many issues have been satisfactorily resolved – that is currently available here.

If you’d like a template for your own organization, you can find it here (as well as on our Resources and Policies pages) – you are free to copy it, modify it, and use it well.

For example, in response to this recent issue, we updated our Code of Conduct to specifically clarify that anyone can report and request the removal of objectionable content, and we also added to policy that the Highwire Improv Code of Conduct be explicitly included in any shows from partnerships we have with other organizations.  These sort of updates are important to achieve continuous progress towards a safer, happier improv community.