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SG Welcomes New Instructors!

2019 has started off with a bang for our organization. We have so many changes and improvements in store, and the second of many is the addition of new instructors to better serve our students.

Stomping Ground aims to provide the best onstage training from the most well-qualified instructors, and we have added several instructors and new class offerings that we’re excited about (including not ONE but TWO Gregs). Here’s the lowdown:

We’re thrilled to add Greg Mihalik to the Improv Instructor team. Greg holds his state certification in Texas in Theater Arts K-12 and has both his BA in Theatre from Lehigh University and his MFA in Playwriting from Rutgers University. Greg has been teaching and doing improv since 2004. He is a graduate of the Improv Conservatory Program at Magnet Theater in New York City and the Improv Training Program at Hideout Theatre, as well as the Musical Improv Training Programs at both institutions. Greg has additional training in improv and musical improv from Coldtowne Theater and Merlin Works in Austin, TX. While at Magnet, Greg performed on musical and non-musical house teams, Pyros & Titan. In Austin he founded and coached the musical improv troupe, Human People, and co-founded the musical improv duo, Too Shy Guys, which still performs to this day. Greg has taught theater arts at the middle school, high school, and college level for a total of 13 years.

Stomping Ground also welcomes Ashley H White and her wide range of expertise; Ashley will be teaching Movement & Physicality for the Performer and more. Ashley is an award-winning director, fight & intimacy director, and teaching artist, with over fifteen years of professional theatre experience. She is the Founder and President of SCDallas (est 2012), Dallas’ only open resource for Stage Combat & Movement Instruction. SCDallas has over 600 members, is host to an annual Regional Workshop (The Lonestar Smash), and mounts regularly scheduled “Fight Nights” and workshops. Through the Society of American Fight Directors, she is certified as an Advanced Actor Combatant, with recommendation in seven weapon disciplines. As a fight & intimacy director, she works all over, most recently choreographing the fights for Angels In America Part II: Perestroika by Tony Kushner at Uptown Players and intimacy for In The Next Room (Or the Vibrator Play) by Sarah Ruhl at IMPRINT Theatreworks, and She Kills Monsters at Texas A&M Commerce, and intimacy and violence for Spring Awakening at Uptown Players. She is the Artistic Director of the award-winning IMPRINT Theatreworks, coined “Dallas’ Hottest New Theatre Company” by Broadway World. She also works as a freelance director. Her next directing project is the stunning song cycle, Ghost Quartet by Dave Malloy, at IMPRINT Theatreworks. Ashley has been recognized for her work, most recently being featured on year-end best of 2018 lists for TheaterJones, Culture Map, and The Dallas Voice. She was awarded three outstanding direction awards alongside one special citation award for outstanding fight & intimacy direction from the 2018 DFW Theater Critics forum. She also won a special recognition 2018 column award for Outstanding Fight & Intimacy Direction. She has been a featured artist in publications such as Arts + Culture Texas and KERA’s Art+Seek.

Greg Silva has officially joined the team as an Improv Instructor. Greg has spent the last twenty years writing and performing comedy in the DFW area. He got his start by training under Randy Bennett (Original Groundling and creator of the Groundlings writing lab) and fellow ground stomper, Chad Cline. He has written for and performed with Lone Star Comedy, Voodoo Mechanic (founding member), Section Eight Comedy and Pegasus Theatre. Greg has also spent the last decade voicing countless character deaths in several anime series, including Fairy Tale, One Piece and Alderamin on the Sky. When it comes to improv, Greg’s mantra is “The fun is in the fear.”

Rounding out the new Instructor Team is Diane Michele, who will be teaching Stand Up. Diane is a proud member of the LGBTQIA community, and has been performing comedy for six years in stand-up, sketch, improv, and plays including The Vagina Monologues and Check, Please! Diane has toured with LMAO Texas and performed at colleges across the state of Texas. She has also worked with Conan O’Brien’s Team Coco writing team and co-hosted the award-winning online radio shows That Comedy Show and Chicks and Giggles. She has also appeared on TV and in independent films. Diane studied stand-up comedy and writing under Emmy award-winning comedian Dean Lewis and Stomping Ground instructor, Aaron Aryanpur.

We look forward to providing exemplary training to students all over DFW in 2019. Our Spring Early Bird Enrollment continues through February 14 so sign up now for $25 OFF.

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Performer Pay at Stomping Ground in 2019

As a nearly 20-year veteran improviser, I have long lived and laughed in an environment where very few performers, if any, are compensated for what they do onstage. In fact, I can count on two hands the amount of improv theaters who have structure in place to pay their performers, and this has always seemed like an area for improvement in this art form that I love so much. But there is a shift happening, and there are improv theaters as of late (like those in the article linked above) who are a positive force for change. And it has been my personal mission and a goal of the Stomping Ground organization to join the ranks and be a part of the cultural shift towards compensating improvisers for their time and talent.
Many improvisers, including some of us at SG, love this art form and would continue to hit the stage for free. Thus is the struggle of artists who delight in their craft- we find joy in the process and performance and as a result sometimes undervalue ourselves and our art. We do what we do because we love it. We see the ticket sales rolling in and don’t stop to consider that those ticket sales would not happen without our time, training, talent, and dedication. We are driving the business. But we, as artists, must realize that as with in any other job/profession/art form, compensation helps create a healthier, happier, and more motivated workforce, which results in a better product; that great product results in a better audience, which can then result in higher compensation, thus creating a beautiful cycle with a healthier environment for the performers, organization, and audience alike. Compensating artists is a win-win-win.
So, in an effort to be a part of positive change, Stomping Ground has found a way to compensate our regular performers while still sustaining and growing our young organization. And I’m excited to announce that Stomping Ground will begin paying our main stage performers in 2019 (effective January 1).
How It Will Work: Our goal is to compensate the performers who have dedicated their time and talent to the SG stage. After taking a long look at the budget and our performer base, for 2019 we have implemented the following pay structure:
For all non-student SG-created scripted and unscripted shows, SG House Teams, improv teams comprised solely of SG staff members, and SG CORE Teams, SG will take the first $150 of ticket sales from each show. Everything above that amount will be paid to teams/performers for that show.
-For visiting shows with multiple show runs, SG will take the first $150 of ticket sales from each show and anything above that amount will be paid to teams/performers for that show.
-For Local Access Stand Up Shows, SG will take the first $150 of ticket sales, the Headliner will take the following $50, and the remaining will be distributed to performers for that show (including the Headliner).
The Philosophy Behind our Pay Structure: Our nonprofit organization’s mission statement is to “enrich the community through comedy.” And, we can’t do that if we’re closed. So we don’t want to risk paying out too much too soon to the performers such that it threatens the life and vitality of the organization as a whole. As much as we would love to do a “guaranteed pay” or a door split, we aren’t in the position to do that quite yet. We haven’t been open a year yet and we are still building our audience and organization. Our attendance varies wildly from show to show; some shows have a handful of audience members; some shows sell out. However, this structure is a step in the right direction. We think it is important to compensate the performers who have continually dedicated themselves to the success of this organization and its mission and continually produce quality shows for the SG stage. And we want more performers to make their home at SG. The 2019 pay model and split will allow us to continue to build our audience, value the artists who commit to sharing their time and talent, but not pay out so much that we are shuttered in 2020.  And our performer payment structure will be re-assessed at the end of each calendar year to see if changes can be or need to be made.  While some shows in these early years will have modest audiences, this structure is a great place to start as we look towards selling out our 75-seat venue for every performance.
This pay structure allows us to be a positive force towards changing the improv comedy culture but also ensures that our organization can continue to grow. We will continue to carry out our mission of enriching the community through comedy, and performer compensation allows us to do this even better. We hope you’ll continue to support our mission and make your home at Stomping Ground as a student, performer, or audience member.
Lindsay Goldapp
Managing Director
Stomping Ground Comedy
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Where Do Your Donations Go?

Stomping Ground is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The founders of the organization chose this model because it allows us to keep the focus on our charitable causes and serving the students and patrons. Being partially funded through grants, donations, and sponsorships helps us keep the focus on our mission rather than the “bottom line.” While some of the trainings, shows, and programs we offer cost money, the revenue generated serves to fund our charitable services and helps keep our costs down. We offer a variety of shows and the best comedy training in town, yet are also able keep our ticket prices, trainings, and class prices low. And because we are a nonprofit, all of our revenue goes right back into our organization. You can rest assured that money spent on tickets and classes are serving others who may not be able to afford a show or a class.

 

We think it is important for you to know how your money is spent. So here are just a few ways we use your generous donations no matter the amount:

$5- Pays the difference for a student ticket (this helps us allow for students to see our shows for only $5)

$5- buys 48 bottles of water for our performers

$10- provides free snacks for a kids camp

$10- covers someone’s admission to a Pay What You Can event

$10- Helps stock our green room Performer wall with bobby pins, safety pins, lint rollers, mints, and more.

 

We strongly believe in paying performers and artists and we make every effort to do so. Not only do we pay instructors a competitive rate in order to maintain a high standard of instruction, but it is our goal to compensate all of our mainstage performers as our organization grows.

 

Your donations help us pay artists in the following ways:
$25- Pays the person in the tech booth for a show and helps us put on professional, quality performances

$50 Helps us pay an intimacy director for a show and keeps actors safe

$50 Helps us pay a fight coordinator for a show and keeps actors safe

$50- Pays a Musical Director for a show

$100- helps us pay for a hotel room for a visiting artist/performer (like Kevin McDonald!)

$200- helps buy a flight for a visiting artist

Any amount helps us pay groups like Irregular Nonsense, our most popular improv team, who are all performers on the autism spectrum and keep their audience laughing and inspired.

Any amount helps pay our staff, many whom work for a small stipend, salary, or on a volunteer basis. Our goal is that we are able to pay everyone who gives their time, expertise, or artistry.

 

The heart and soul of Stomping Ground Comedy is our Improv for Life program. In the past year, we have been able to serve over 1400 people with fun yet therapeutic classes aimed at mental wellness and self-expression. We believe strongly that therapeutic services should be accessible to ALL. Our goal for the future is that all of our Improv for Life classes, trainings, and services are free, but until then the fees, tuitions, and donations help fund classes for those who can’t otherwise afford it. Through paid signups and donations, we are able to offer scholarships for our Improv for Anxiety class, Improv for Autism class, and Improv for Caregivers class.

Here are where your dollars go when you make a donation:
$25- Pays our gas money for a Caregivers convention

$50-$125- Pays an instructor for a free hour-long Improv for Life workshop in the community

$75- Pays for one scholarship for our Improv for Anxiety Kids Workshop

$95- Pays for one scholarship for a 3-hr Improv for Caregivers workshop

$95- Pays for one scholarship for a 3-hr Improv for Autism workshop

$320- Pays for one scholarship for our Improv for Autism or Improv for Anxiety 7-week class

 

Stomping Ground has a robust scholarship program, and your small donations add up to support this program in a big way. At SG, we think that pursuing your passion should be possible. We think anyone who wants to pursue comedy, improve their confidence or communication skills, or express their creativity should be able to do so. We also believe that improv should be inclusive and every voice should be heard and celebrated within our walls and on our stage, so we have a Diversity & Outreach Scholarship program and Student Scholarship program. In 2018 we have already provided over 40 scholarships to students.

 

Our scholarship program also includes our children’s programs. Lots of kids want to come to summer camp but not every parent can afford it. Each summer we offer several scholarships for kids and provide them a safe, fun environment. In 2018 we provided 10 children with scholarships to our summer Kids Comedy Camps.

Our theater doesn’t have frills, but our goal is to make it a safe creative environment. Your donations alone allow us do this. We have done a lot of work over the past few weeks to improve and maintain our space and are doing a lot of work to improve our space over the next couple of weeks.

 

Here are a few improvements we have made or have on the docket to better serve our patrons and students:

1) We are adding an ADA compliant wheelchair ramp

2) We added another electrical circuit in our box office so it would stop overloading

3) We repaired our water fountain and secured it to the wall

4) We added a changing table for parents with infants

5) We are adding a wall to separate our storage area from our patrons for safety purposes

 

So as you can see, your donations and sponsorships go a long way in keeping our institution safe, fun, and inclusive.
If you’re low on cash but want to support us, there are many ways to do so. Our organization thrives because of volunteers doing everything from working the box office to admin duties. Please fill out our Volunteer Form and we will find the best way for you to help!
We appreciate your support on this Giving Tuesday!

Lindsay Goldapp

Managing Director/Co-Founder

Stomping Ground Comedy

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Give the Gift of Laughter

Add some extra Ha!’s as you dash through the snow in your one-horse, open sleigh this holiday season with a gift of comedy classes to someone special in your life.

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Members Only at Stomping Ground

We are excited to introduce Stomping Ground Membership Levels! You can support our mission of enriching the community through comedy by becoming a an official “Member” of Stomping Ground. You can be a part of helping underserved members of our community, children, and those with special needs have access to our programming.

For our nonprofit organization, membership dollars help underwrite scholarships and fund free community outreach. We currently offer outreach and scholarships to members of the community with autism, Alzheimer’s and dementia and their caregivers, brain injury, anxiety, and those in the community who are underserved and would otherwise not have the opportunity to participate in our classes, workshops, and activities. We also offer “Pay What You Can” shows and workshops in order to make our programming accessible to students and families who may not otherwise have access to live theatrical performance and training. And we want to do so much more!

Already in 2018, we have been able to offer free and discounted workshops and training to Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, NonPareil Institute, Ed-U-Care Compassion Fatigue Conference, Huckleberry Foundation, Citysquare, and more. We have also been able to fund scholarships for members of the community who are caregivers to those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, those with autism and anxiety, and those who otherwise could not afford our therapeutic workshops and classes.

Click here to check out our Memberships and learn how to become a part of enriching the community through comedy!

The Stomping Ground Team & Board of Directors