FY2016* was a year of historic growth and impact for Washington Improv Theater. Groundbreaking, smart, and energetic programming filled our calendar from start to finish and we reached record numbers of audience members, students, and trainees.
*For us that’s July ‘15 – June ‘16.
WIT presented more artists in more performances for more audience members than ever before in FY16. Over the course of 270 shows, 115 improv artists performed as part of WIT’s company ensembles and Harold teams. Still more improvisers lit up our stage from independent local and national troupes including Magnet Theater’s Jordache (NYC) and Minneapolis’ The Theater of Public Policy. Second City cast members even dropped in to improvise while in town from Chicago. Our total audience for performances grew to a record 21,000.
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- Minneapolis’ T2P2 takes up residency at WIT In a first-of-its-kind residency program, Minneapolis’ The Theater of Public Policy (known as T2P2) brought their intelligent wonk-driven humor to liven up discussions about current issues and modern debates. Their special guest interviewees included a bipartisan pair of Minnesota congressmen and the editor of SCOTUSblog.
- The October Issue premieres to critical acclaim WIT contributed the original production The October Issue to the citywide Women’s Voices Theater Festival. The show’s all-female cast created a show inspired by the traditional format of a women’s magazine, delivering an unvarnished look at life from a woman’s perspective. The Washington Post called the cast “a remarkable group of funny women.” Audiences demanded more and the ensemble continues to perform in WIT productions.
- Halloween-themed run brings WIT to Atlas District The HOWL series at Atlas Performing Arts Center leading up to Halloween featured some seriously spooky (and spoofy) performing acts and the return of crowd fave and the bloodiest show WIT does: Die! Die! Die!
- WIT co-presents the third annual District Improv Festival WIT co-presented the third annual District Improv Festival on our home stage at Source, featuring headliner The Boys (Susan Messing and Rachael Mason).
- Seasonal Disorder welcomes largest audiences ever December brought the best-attended Seasonal Disorder run of holiday-themed shows in WIT’s history, including the return of Improv Actually (an improvised romantic comedy inspired by the movie Love Actually).
- Over 4,500 audience members attend tenth annual Fighting Improv Smackdown Tournament The tenth annual Fighting Improv Smackdown Tournament (our annual bracket-style improv tourney where the audience determines the winners) drew in the largest audience in history. With 100 teams competing, FIST celebrated its tenth anniversary with over ten times the teams from the inaugural year. Beverly Crusher took home the FIST X title.
- WIT’s family of performers grows Harold Teams Love Onion and Madeline ascended to company ensemble status in August and May, respectively. As they said goodbye to the Harold program, more friends said hello; the Harold program grew to include 6 teams in June. New teams Diviglio and LIZARD GIRL debuted this summer under the direction of Sam Bonar and Dan Milliken.
- WIT’s classes continue to grow Interest and enrollment in WIT’s classes continue to grow, with every semester surpassing prior years’ enrollment and internal projections. With a 15% increase in enrollment for another year in a row, the most notable highlight was that the winter session grew by 20% and welcomed over 400 students.
- Free Improv for All workshops reach all eight wards WIT took its ongoing free workshop program to all 8 Wards of the District for the first time in a single year. More than 750 individuals attended these workshops (double the attendance from FY15). The fun didn’t stop there. Over 12% of Improv for All workshop participants went on to take Level 1 classes, bringing more students into the WIT community.
- Subsidized classes at Anacostia Arts Center bring improv East of the River For the second year in a row, we brought low-cost improv classes to the Anacostia Arts Center through the support of the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities’ East of the River grant. The Commission nearly quadrupled its support for the program in FY16, enabling us to program upper-level classes in addition to Foundations of Improv. In fall FY17, WIT plans to run a Harold class with a cohort of students who have only attended class at Anacostia Arts Center. Showcases for these classes included additional performances by WIT company ensembles, giving Ward 7 and 8 residents an opportunity to catch WIT’s most seasoned performers close to home.
- WIT U helps improvisers hone their craft The number for WIT University workshops for experience improvisers doubled, with average attendance rising to 13 participants per workshop. Our facilitators included WIT faculty like Jack Novak and Kate Symes as well as out-of-town facilitators like Improvised Shakespeare’s Greg Hess and Magnet Theater Artistic Director Megan Grey.
WIT took improv out of the theater and into the wilds of the workplace, reaching over 1,500 participants through 34 WIT@Work workshops and training experiences.
We continued developing a new core WIT@Work training curriculum and workshop design, with a greater focus on learning outcomes and skills development (collaboration, communication, and innovation), while still keeping all the engagement, play, and fun that WIT@Work participants love. After holding the first WIT@Work train-the-trainer workshop, we added amazing new trainers to our talented team.
Standout engagements from FY2016:
- Record number of engagements This was the busiest year on record for WIT@Work and we broke records in both the number of trainings we held and the amount of people we reached!
- Improv can be applied to any industry We introduced improv’s ideas to the banking world with engagements for Wells Fargo, Capital One, and TD Bank. We also made connections in the science and medical fields through engagements with the Koshland Science Museum, Opower, MedStar Physicians, and the National Institutes of Health. We continued our work leading workshops for executives and professionals in the fields of law, public relations, finance, and international development.
- Improv goes to college We led applied improv workshops for graduate programs at Catholic University (Library and Information Science), George Washington University (MBA program), and the University of Maryland (MBA program).
- We’d tell you, but… We conducted training events for two large national intelligence agencies, which we can’t really discuss.
- Developing our trainers and curriculum We continued developing a new core WIT@Work training curriculum and workshop design, with a greater focus on learning outcomes and skills development (collaboration, communication, and innovation), while still keeping all the engagement, play, and fun that WIT@Work participants love. After holding the first WIT@Work train-the-trainer workshop, we added amazing new trainers to our talented team.
- Clients keep coming back for more Along with a record number of new clients, we also had a record year of repeat engagements, signifying our high level of client satisfaction. Deloitte, Marriott, Goodwill International, The Brookings Institution, Burness Communications, the NextGen Government Summit, University of Maryland MBA Program, and MedStar were all repeat clients.
Finances: Managing Growth and Seeking Stability
[metaslider id=4816]Growth All three of WIT’s main programs grew substantially in FY16, each reaching more people than ever before. These greater numbers of audience members, enrolled students, and WIT@Work clients resulted in increased revenue and point to positive program growth in the future. In addition, more participants and stakeholders stepped up to financially support WIT’s mission in DC: door donations, one-time and recurring donors, and business sponsorships all increased in FY2016.
Stability Organizational stability has become a hot topic in the nonprofit sector, but WIT has always been conscientious about preparing for the future and avoiding overextending ourselves. In FY2016, with the help of our third consecutive Upstart capacity-building grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, WIT increased the size of our emergency reserves to $103K. Through the Commission’s new Heritage Grant Program, WIT has already secured general operating support for FY2017.
The DC Commission on Arts & Humanities has been a major partner in WIT”s growth. Over the last 11 years WIT has received over $500,000 in essential support through the commission’s competitive grant-making programs. In FY16, WIT received more than $100,000 in funding from the Commission, which helped fuel our work at Anacostia Arts Center, bring improv workshops to local high schools, and stage performances like The October Issue.
Strategic Plan guides WIT’s leadership
FY2016 was the second year of a 3-year strategic plan approved by the board in May 2014, after a process that engaged the entire board and other stakeholders from WIT’s community. A fairly simple framework of objectives continues to guide WIT’s growth and evolution into FY2017.
Contributed revenue fuels growth
The support of people who believe in WIT’s mission has been crucial our organizational growth. Generous support from the DC Commision on the Arts and Humanities helped support projects like our subsidized Anacostia Arts Center classes as well as workshops in local schools. The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation helped us stage a bursting calendar of performances.
Corporate sponsors grew in FY2016. Lou’s City Bar continued as the official after-class destination for WIT classes. The tenth annual FIST was possible thanks to sponsorships from Caliber Home Loans, the Capitol Riverfront BID, KVS Title, Nellie’s Sports Bar, and Robert Crawford + Tyler Jeffrey.
And the WIT community itself stepped up to support WIT in a major way. From Amelia Vogel and Cicie Sattarnilasskorn stepping up as sponsors for The October Issue to our growing community of monthly donors, our community of students, audience members, players, and teachers are giving back to WIT and helping us grow bigger and better every year.
Thank you to all of our donors who make our work possible.
The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
BakeHouse, Whitney Brimfield, Capitol Riverfront BID, Arthur Chu, Margaret Fisher, Thomas Harris, Michael Kitces, Arianna Koudounas, Lou’s City Bar, Aaron Mosby, Nellie’s Sports Bar, Liz Rowan, Cicie Sattarnilasskorn, Greg Tindale, The Weissberg Foundation
ANC 1B, Anonymous, Lura Barber, Michael Briggs, Caliber Home Loans, Mark Chalfant, Juliana Duffy and Gene Magee, Melissa Duffy and John Delmore, KVS Title, The Murchie Family, Robert Crawford & Tyler Jeffrey, Katie Rush, Amelia Vogel
Drew Crowder, Megan Cummings and Kevin Gauthier, Monica and Hershey Dalwadi, Cecilia De Robertis, Juliana Duffy, John and Christie Fogarty, Abigail and Brian Fu, Tom and Ann Harris, John Heiser, Mike Hendrix, Olga Howard, Denny Johnson , Jamie Lantinen, Rick and Jane Lux, Brianna Lux, Kim Martin, Robin Miller and Bob Levine, Charles Milliken, Luis and Taylor Morinigo, Nancy Norman, Nox!, Rich Nyman, Dan O’Neil, Jaclyn Pulice, Sara Rouhi, Katie Rush, Sandi Sarradet and Tom O’Connor, Kate Symes, Stewart Walsh, Sue Tetterton, AJ Wilson and Rachel Madan, Matthew Winterhalter
Nicholas Aakre, Anonymous, Renée & Alan Brimfield, Lars Calhoun, Richard Casey, David Chalfant, The Cheesecake Factory, Jen Coken, Kat Davis, Mike Desjadon, Michael and Jane Duffy, Sean Paul Ellis, Alice and Harvey Galper, Eloise Garback, Lidia Hernandez, Alexander Jaffe, Lisa Kays, Alex Kazanas, Steve Major, Zach Mason, Taylor Edwards, Dan Milliken, Jordana Mishory, Jim Mitre, Caroline Blair Pettit, Maura Policelli, Jennifer Rice, Erin Smith, David Steib, Michelle Swaney, PJ Tabit, Michael Turletes, Michael Whybrew, Jonathan Zucker
Erick Acuña, Ryan Alloway, Anonymous (2), Nina Berkowitz, Matt Berman, Michael Bird, Geoff Blizard, Pv Boccassam, Olivia Boyce, John Carroll, Jon Chesebro, Elaine Colwell, Zach Corey, Madeline Dunsmore, Anne Eigeman, Joella Fink, Erika Flora, Drew G, Shana Glickfield, Arhan Gunel, Diego Hernandez, Devin Horne, Nina Hsu, JJ Jackson, Tracee Jordan, Malina Kirn, Caroline Knickerbocker, Jenny Koch, Ami Krasner, Jordan LaCrosse, Tyler Laminack, David Lapkoff, Tony Lazzeroni, Aleksei Lund, Dana Malone, Alyssa Marciniak, David Markey, Becca McCary, Hunter McEwan, Erica Meyr, Molly Murchie, Sean Murphy, Sandy Bergo and Chuck Neubauer, Margaret O’Halloran, Amy O’Brien, Satish Pillalamarri, Max Postman, Edna Primrose, Joe Randazzo, Roberta Ritvo, Carlos Robles, John Roller, Ryan Schleeter, Kris Shenenberger, Michael Slattery, Chris Ulrich, Scotty Usher, Heather Marie Vitale, Lauren Walinsky, Diana Wang, Katie Watkins, Courtney Weaver, Lauren Woody, Jin Yoo, Dana Zelman
Samantha Alridge Taylor, Nathan Alston, Chad Appel, Maneesh Arora, Don Atkins, Paula D. Atkinson, Ziporah Baez, Vaughn Baltzly, Michael Beerman, Topher Bellavia, Leslie Berk, Bindi Bhagat, Ann Blaylock Bacon, Paul Bloomer, Rod Blum, Jeff Bollen, Russel Boothby, Susan Borke, Ashley Bowen, David Bower, Charles Bowles, David Boyajian, Melanie Boyer, Danielle Brannigan, David Brescia-Weiler, Kate Bresnahan, Kristin Brown, Dionne Brown, Christina Brown, Destiny Brown, Meredith Buchanan, Sarah Bucher, Monica Buitrago, Terry Burch, Sarah Burstyn, David Burt, George Burton, Sophia Cai, Alexis Camille, Anna Carello, Stephen Carter, Alexandra Carter, Kathy Chamberlain, Paul Chen, Larra Clark, Catherine Collins, James Conner, Lauren Corboy, Megan Cotten, Marc Cowans, Rorie Cox-Steib, Niki Cremi, Mariella Cruzado, Julia Czaplinski, Denise D’Amour, Tiffany Dailey, Aaron Dantley, Chandrima Das, Maura Deegan, Charles Denson, Saro Derian, Steven desJardins, Shavonnie Dickens, Jonathan Diveley, Paulina Do, Susan Doh, Alice Donlan, Robin Doody, Ian Dotson, Annie Drinkard, Elizabeth Driscoll, Malia Du Mont, Tsaitami Duchicela, Katie Dunn, Quintin Durden, Rich Duval, Samantha Ellerbeck, Melissa Englander, David Evans, Laurel Fain, John Farrell, Jessica Farrell, Emma Feitelson, Abigail Fine, Shawn Fisher, Kathryn Fisher, Sarah Flocken, Elizabeth Flomo, Stelios Florinas, Janet Ford, Ross Gage, Isabel Galbraith, Casey Gallagher, Jessica Garchik, Jason Garel, Monique Gingold, Seth Gitter, Lori Gold, Amory Goldberg, Juliann Gorse, Alison Grace, Molly Graham, Jordan Greene, Kathryn Grossman, Jessica Guerra, Gretchen Gustafson, Luc Hale, Jenna Hall, Caroline Hallam, Kevin Hanley, Melanie Harker, Allison Harwick, Bridgette Harwood, Dominic Hawkins, Kathleen Heagney, Kathleen Heagney, Raymond Hearn, Jason Heckert, Katherine Heller, Kaitlyn Hemingway, Lauren Hines, Jack and Gina Hirsch, Team Hirsch, Rona Hitlin-Mason, Lisa Hiton, Ashley Hollander, Niloufar Hormozdi, Kailin Huang, Alice Hughes, Carlic Huynh, Maureen Ingram, Michael Jemmott, Adele Jerista, Hannah Johnson, Monte Johnson, Capreisha Jones, Tonya Jordan, Cory Julie, Martha Katz-Hyman, James Kelly, Shabd Khalsa, Esabel Khoury, Kevin Kim, Sasha Kramer, Fred Krenson, Ryan Krull, Phillip Krull, Justin Ladner, Jessica Lake, Laura Lee, Sarah Leibach, Scott Long, DJ Loop, Mehlika Lozins, Erik Lundstrom, Nadine Lymn, James MacIndoe, Shanel Mackall, Nidal Mahmoud, Kevin Mahoney, Daniel Malashock, Omar Malik, John Mallory, Stephen Daniel Mann, Alexis Mapes, Steven Marcellino, Beth Marchessault, Reginald Massey, Marc Maxmeister, Juliet Mazer-Schmidt, Laurenellen McCann, Robert McClinton, Andy McDaniel, Madeleine McDougall, Reaves McElveen, Francisco Medina, Megan Meyer, Rob Miller, Dan Miller, Lindsay Miller, Bryanda Minix, Lea Morris, Megan Morrison, Caitlin Murphy, Jonathan Murphy, Priya Neti, Sarah Newcomb, Nancy, Jessica Norman, Steven Nye, Taylor O’Connor, Colin O’Connor, OluMide Ojeifo, Onaolapo Olatunji, Kathryn Ozog, Mark Pagan, Kelly Paisley, Mary Parker, Rebecca Parmalee, Jordan Paul, Diana Peacock, Lance Perkins, Brady Peters, Jordan Phillips, Melanie Phung, Guisou Pineyro, Fran Pirog, Nicholas Pistone, Catherine Porter, Barbara Power, Angela Proudfoot, Alan Prunier, Anna Pugh, Amy Purcell, John Quinn, Jessica Ramirez, Joan Razi, Andrea Reid, William Rice, David Richman, Lawrence Rickards, Morgan Riehl, Julia Rocchi, Jay Rocheleau, Jennifer Roderick, Tracey Ross, Rebecca Roy, Larry Rude, Clara Sackey, Christina Sanders, Elizabeth Sanders, Macey Schiff, Leslie Schmidt, Naomi Schultheis, Anthony Schumacher, Miriam Segal, Deb Sengupta, Sabrina Shahmir, Daniel Sheaffer, Brett Shogren, Thomas Showalter, Jared Smith, Renan Snowden, Niniola Soleye, Tajshana Solomon, Martin Steger, Mark Steinbach, Ali Sternburg, Mark Strom, Kaelan Sullivan, Sal Taillefer, Matt Tarka, April Thompson, Jyoti Tibrewala, Mike Tidwell, Silvia Tomo, Tu-An Truong, Srini Turaga, Petry Ubri, Adriana Usero, Annelies van Vonno, Pablo Virgo, Michael Visser, Janet Walker Chirlin, Charles E. Givens, Donna Watts, Kevin Wedmark, Ellen Weiss, Laura Wetzel, Meredith Whipple, Martha Whittaker, Katharine Wiand, Brett Wiederkehr, Smith Williams, Michael Williamson, Alexandra Wilson, Emily Wright, Sarah Yoo, Nathan Zondlo
WIT’s FY2017 season is already underway as we complete this report and it promises to be WIT’s biggest season ever!
The extraordinary people at WIT – the audience, students, performers, teachers, volunteers, and donors – are what make the mission possible. They are the ones unleashing the creative power of Washington, DC, and for that we are extremely grateful. Thank you for supporting WIT and for being a part of this incredible community.