D&D Reporter, 25 March 2015

We thought that we at Improbable would write a report on how D&D went for us this

year. The first thing to say is THANK YOU so much to everyone who came - it's just

brilliant that after 10 years our annual January event is going as strong as ever. This

year we had around 300 people attend over the course of the weekend, 89 reports

written (on everything from extra-live performances to elections) and many more

sessions called.

We approached this year wanting to make it as accessible as possible. We were

hugely disappointed last year at D&D9 when we discovered the day before the event

that the lift which serves the accessible entrance to York Hall was broken, meaning

that several wheelchair users who had booked couldn't attend, so we ensured that

York Hall had the lift fixed for this year's event. We provided access training for all our

staff and volunteers and made sure we had someone at the entrance desk who could

specifically support anyone with particular access needs. We also made sure we had

BSL interpreters available for the whole weekend - they ended up being used

throughout the whole event. We were pretty pleased with how the event went from an

access point of view, but we're always happy to hear feedback, comments or

suggestions: if you think we're not meeting your access needs, please tell us how we

can improve by e-mailing [email protected] - we'll do our very best to provide

the support that you require.

We had some audio equipment lent to us by our lovely friends SlungLow, which

enabled people in a session to wear headphones, talk into a microphone and hear

everyone's comments much more clearly. They were also used by our BSL

Interpreters to help them when they were interpreting sessions. This seemed to go

down very well for all those who used it, particularly given that we've had several

comments about how difficult it is to hear in the York Hall acoustic, so we'll be thinking

about whether we can roll this out to more sessions for next year.

We wanted to make D&D10 an international event, looking at not only the issues

affecting the UK arts sector but also the wider world. We we really pleased to welcome

people who had travelled from places such as India, Brazil and the Netherlands -

thanks to you all for taking the time to come and participate.

This year we sent out a feedback survey to everyone who booked via Eventbrite. We

had a great response rate and the findings are hugely useful to us: we thought we'd

share some of the stand out things here.

Both our experience at D&D this year and the survey has made us think quite a lot

about what it's like to come to D&D for the first time. Of our survey respondents, 35%

were new to D&D this year, and from conversations at the event as well as comments

in our survey, we think there's more that we could be doing to support people who

have never been before, particularly if they are attending on their own. It's fantastic

that we have so many people who come back year after year, but we're also aware

that for someone new, it can look like a big overwhelming room full of people who all

know each other, which can be scary. We're thinking about things we could put in

place for next year; some ideas that have come up from Improbable and also from the

survey are a ‘buddy’ system for regulars / first timers, a mark on our door lists beside

the name of anyone who is coming for the first time so we can give them a more

specific welcome, and ways we can let people know how D&D works if they're new

and arrive late, thus missing the Opening Circle.

We also had LOTS of comments on the survey about how cold York Hall is! We

definitely knew this already, but the number of people who commented on it made us

think we should try and address it for next year. York Hall is in many ways a brilliant

venue for us, given its location and its size, but it may also be time for D&D to move to

a different space. We've had a good old search over the past couple of years to get a

sense of what else is out there, but the cost of similar size venues is almost always

prohibitive. We'll be having a think and another look around throughout this year, so if

you have any suggestions we'd love to hear from you (NB: we get a really good rate at

York Hall - we'd need a new venue to certainly be no more expensive and ideally

offered to us for free as support for the event….)

We learnt loads of other things from the survey - 87% of you said you were freelancers

in the theatre / performing arts sector, a third of you said you were directors, and the

majority of you liked the fact that D&D is on a weekend, rather than taking place during

the week. Whilst we had lots of really helpful constructive feedback which we'll be

looking at in more detail over the coming months, the overwhelming response was

really positive about the event and the way that its run.

We also had the wonderful Jen Toksvig capturing responses to D&D throughout the

weekend. We've got some great stuff from this - not the least the tribe map, an

incredible artwork detailing the connections between all those who attended D&D, and

a brown paper booklet detailing the many things that D&D has made happen,

everything from helping someone identify as an artist or change careers through to

specific projects being created or funding being obtained.

For the first time this year we gave the option of purchasing a ‘golden ticket’ alongside

your regular ticket to D&D - essentially helping us subsidise tickets for those who can't

afford the full price. We received almost £600 in Golden Ticket donations, plus around

£80 in cash during the event, so thanks so so much to all those who donated. As we

said during the weekend, D&D is an event that Improbable subsidises, so all support

towards it is hugely appreciated - if you'd like to contribute, please do have a look at

our Supporters' Page: http://www.improbable.co.uk/support/

We also wanted to say thank you to everyone who attended Phelim & Lee's sessions

on iii or the International Institute of Improvisation. This was a space for us to discuss

our long term plans for Improbable and the thoughts we gathered were really useful.

More details will be coming as our plans develop.

And finally, a highlight for us was one of our longstanding D&D attendees Regina

finishing her doll making project, which she has been working on for a few years,

during D&D10 when her 700th doll was sewn. Well done Regina!

As always, we love feedback, comments, opinions, advice, so if there's anything you

want to tell us about your D&D experience, we'd love to hear it. You can comment

here on the D&D site, or drop us an e-mail on [email protected].

Thanks once again to everyone that came - until next year.


fundraising, improbable, first time attendees, Access, access, Fundraising, Improbable