After three years of running a theater, we knew it was time to bring a festival dedicated to long-form improv to Central Florida. There is a lot of planning that goes into such a large event and we were ready to take on the challenge. We are thrilled with how well everything went with a year one festival and we also have learned quite a lot. Hopefully, some of what we learned can help you!
We wanted to make this event special! To do that we decided we needed to go from our tiny but well-loved theater to a more grand theater. We found a beautiful venue! There were challenges we were aware of but attempted to make the best of the situation. Due to some regulations or whatnot, we could not use the venue until later at night nor could we do shows in "blocks" of time. Something we know our staff, volunteers, performers and guests would have preferred. Even the most die-hard improv fans could use an intermission from time to time! We are already making plans on remedying this for next year!
It's important to provide quality workshops at affordable prices. Festivals are an opportunity to learn from teachers you would not have access to in your own community. We wanted to give a variety of instructors, classes, and keep it affordable. One tip on how to do that is to reach out to teachers you admire and tell them what you are attempting to do and discuss their requirements and your budget. Improvisers are some of the nicest people around and most teachers are willing to work with small and upcoming festivals. We LOVED our teachers this year.
There is always the question of having workshops on Sunday after a night of shows and post-show hangouts. This year we opted to do so and the workshop was fantastic but we could see the students and teacher were exhausted. It is something we will discuss as a committee and decide together for next year. Communication and assessment of your community can help drive this decision.
Festivals are about community. Make your community feel welcome. From the moment your guests arrive at the venue, have volunteers ready to greet them. This is for both patrons and performers. Be accessible and communicate often. Again, for your patrons and performers. We love our community and we saw how that can turn into something that goes beyond a theater's front door! So we say to you, our community, thank you for your support!
There was plenty more we learned and enjoyed this past weekend! We look forward to the future and to calling Central Florida a hub for amazing long form improv!