What is the Code of Conduct?
The NZIF Code of Conduct (CoC) is a set of boundaries and guidelines that we require every participant to agree to during their time at all NZIF events and associated environments.
Who does it apply to?
Our CoC applies to everyone participating in festival events in any capacity: this includes workshop attendees, performers, teachers, directors, festival staff, production crew and volunteers.
It does not apply to staff employed by our event venues (e.g. BATS, Hannah Playhouse, various bars); however, we expect these venues to treat our participants respectfully and professionally, and we will absolutely go in to bat for you if you have a negative experience.
When does it apply?
If you are a participant as above, the COC applies to you from the time you arrive at the festival until the time you go home. It applies when you are engaging in promotion on behalf the festival, during production times, workshops, performances, social events and networking. It applies while you are staying in accommodation provided by the festival. Basically, if the interaction you’re having would not be happening if the festival didn’t exist, the CoC applies.
Why do we have it?
It is our responsibility as festival organisers to provide a safe space for all participants, and to have rules and systems in place to manage any situation that threatens that safety. We first introduced our Code of Conduct at NZIF 2015 in response to a growing movement among festivals and conventions, recognising that participants and audience have the right to expect to be treated with respect and decency by festival organisers, co-attendees, venue staff, audience, and anyone else they come in contact with during this event.
In terms of our guidelines relating to onstage and workshop behaviour: improvisation is a collective art form and one that requires a great deal of trust. When you’re working with your company, ensemble, troupe or friends in your hometown, you have time to get to know each other — your limits, your tendencies, your habits good and bad — and you have time to grow this trust. At NZIF we are coming together in an environment that shortcuts that trust’s development, and this can be a recipe for misunderstanding, hurt, and occasional disaster. By asking all participants to agree to this COC and opening the conversation about our boundaries, we hope to minimise the chance of disaster and maximise the chance of a jolly good time.
Remember: How you prefer to work in your own creative practice is entirely up to you — you know your audience, your stage partners, and your personal boundaries and goals. We simply ask that while you are at NZIF you respect the boundaries we have set in place.
The New Zealand Improv Festival is governed by the New Zealand Improvisation Trust. Our principles, as laid out in our trust deed:
3. The Trust is committed to
3.1. supporting, creating and presenting work that is accessible, diverse, and respectful of our practitioners and our audience; and
3.2. maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.
NZIF therefore asks all participating in our workshops, performances, networking and social events to commit to these principles, to respect each other and our audience, and to maintain professionalism and integrity. We are all ambassadors of our community and should behave accordingly.
In addition we are dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, race, age, ethnicity, disability, physical appearance, body size, and/or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of festival participants in any form.
Harassment includes, but is not limited to:
- offensive verbal comments that reinforce social structures of domination (related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion)
- deliberate intimidation, stalking, or following
- harassing photography or recording
- sustained disruption of talks or other events
- inappropriate physical contact
- unwelcome sexual attention
- advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behaviour
Participants asked to stop any harassing behaviour are expected to comply immediately. If a participant engages in harassing behaviour, the organisers retain the right to take any actions to keep the event a welcoming environment for all participants, including warning the offender or expulsion from the event. Organisers may take action to redress anything designed to, or with the clear impact of, disrupting the event, or making the environment hostile for any participants.
All communication should be appropriate for a professional audience including people of many different backgrounds. This applies both to performance and teaching. We are aware that you are working in the moment and that sometimes inappropriate things come out (especially in workshops), and sometimes audience suggestions will be less than savoury. We trust that you will use your professional judgement as teachers and performers to ensure the work we present does not become inappropriate or harmful. Remember, you are not obliged to accept audience suggestions that do not inspire you or that will lead to work that falls outside of these guidelines.
When onsite at any festival venue (BATS Theatre and Lumen, social events at bars, workshops/events at any other venue) attend safety briefings where relevant, adhere to all safety guidelines, and follow any and all instructions given by venue management and festival staff. Respect the alcohol license at BATS and other venues. Be on time and prepared for shows, call times, and workshops. Respect the facilities. Report any hazards or accidents promptly and honestly. Be a good neighbour. Make the festival look good.
All reports will be kept confidential unless otherwise agreed. When reporting a breach you are welcome to include a support person at any stage (and they do not have to be involved in the festival).
Consequences for breaching the Code of Conduct will be commensurate with the severity of the situation, and may include: apologies to affected parties, fines where financial loss has been incurred, exclusion from events, removal from the festival without refund, and being directed not to return in future. All decisions with regards to such situations are at the sole discretion of the festival organizers.
Thank you for helping make this a welcoming, friendly event for all.
Making a report
If someone makes you or anyone else feel unsafe or unwelcome, please report it as soon as possible. You may do so to any of the festival staff (full contact info available from the Code of Conduct page on the NZIF registration website). You can make a report in person or anonymously.
You can make a personal report by:
- Calling or messaging one of the organisers listed above, including the festival phone (staffed by various festival team members).
- Speaking to an organiser, identified by their green lanyards.
When taking a report in person, our team will ensure you are safe and cannot be overheard. They may involve other team members to ensure your report is managed properly. Once safe, we’ll ask you to tell us about what happened. This can be upsetting, but we’ll handle it as respectfully as possible, and you can bring someone to support you. You won’t be asked to confront anyone and we won’t tell anyone who you are.
You can make an anonymous report using the form available from the Code of Conduct page on the NZIF registration website. We can’t follow up an anonymous report with you directly, but we will fully investigate it and take whatever action is necessary to prevent a recurrence.
Our team will be happy to help you contact venue security, local law enforcement, support services, provide escorts, or otherwise assist you to feel safe for the duration of the event. We value your attendance.
Handling a report
All reports will be taken seriously, and managed with discretion and anonymity where requested.
Upon receiving a report we will:
- Create an incident report in our records
- Check for any linked reports (similar behaviour, same names)
- Check with reporter as to their preferences for next steps (anonymity, no action, a mediated meeting, etc)
- Where action is required, we will contact the involved party/s by the
contact information provided in registration and advise
- that we have received a report
- (If contacting via email) that we would like to arrange a meeting
- a brief outline of the intended course of action
- Take action as necessary following the communication with involved parties
- Follow up with reporter if anonymity is not a factor.
If outside agencies are involved at any stage we will defer to their expertise.
Interpreting the CoC
Here’s some guidelines about how you can honour the COC in all the different spaces across the festival. At all times, keep each other safe.
- Turn up on time and properly prepared for the workshop.
- Don’t turn up drunk or otherwise inebriated. If you’re hungover and your state is likely to impact other participants, make a call about whether your attendance is a good idea. You may be able to participate as an observer — ask your teacher.
- Ask for consent before engaging physically with your classmates.
- Feel empowered to bring up anything that makes you uncomfortable during the workshop to the teacher, either in the moment or afterwards.
- Listen with an open mind if something you say or do makes someone else uncomfortable and follow any directions given to you by your teacher.
- Be each other’s advocates. If you sense that someone is uncomfortable, see if you can help. Respect their wishes whether they want help or not.
- Pay attention to any and all safety briefings and information. Respect the facilities. Report any damage or accidents to your teacher.
- Teachers/workshop facilitators: you are responsible for the safety of your students while you are leading the workshop. Respect their contributions and boundaries, and provide space for communication. Report any incidents in a timely manner.
- Turn up on time for all safety briefings, call times and production requirements.
- Do not arrive drunk or otherwise inebriated. Directors and festival staff reserve the right to deny you stage time should you be unable to perform for this reason.
- Pay attention to any and all safety briefings and information. Respect the facilities. Report any damage or accidents to your director.
- Respect the audience and your fellow players. Check in before the performance regarding each other’s physical and emotional limits. Double check with the director about their vision for the content. Respect these limits.
- Look after each other onstage. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, change it. It’s improv.
- Feel empowered to bring up anything that makes you uncomfortable during the show to the director or your stage partner.
- Listen with an open mind if something you say or do makes someone else uncomfortable.
- Directors: You are responsible for your cast and performance. Make sure everyone is familiar and comfortable with each other’s limits before the show, and that everyone shares the same vision for the work.
- Audience: Be a good audience member. Let non-improvisors give ask fors. Don’t heckle. Don’t get super drunk. Enjoy the show.
- Be on time (and if you can’t be on time enter politely!)
- If you’re asked to speak or facilitate a panel, recognise that this is a privilege that comes with responsibility.
- If you think there is someone better placed to facilitate or contribute, let us know!
- Feel empowered to bring up anything that makes you uncomfortable during the workshop to the forum facilitator or speakers, either in the moment or afterwards.
- Listen with an open mind if something you say or do makes someone else uncomfortable and follow any directions given to you by the forum facilitator.
Social Events and other non-structured environments
- There’s eight whole days to get through. Pace yourself. Drink responsibly.
- Respect and listen to the venue staff and festival staff.
- Don’t break anything. We want to be invited back.
- If you see someone on the outer, bring them into the fun. If they’re happy where they are, great.
- Respect people’s physical boundaries. There’s a lot of huggers in improv land but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people have a short list of hug buddies and everyone else is off limits, some people are all hugs, all the time. Always ask first!
- Look after each other. Help one another get home safe.
- Under no circumstances bring your own alcohol or other substances into BATS or any other licensed venue.