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The Groundlings School Announces 4th Annual Diversity Festival Online

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The Diversity Festival will run daily from 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. from November 13 - November 15.

The Groundlings School Announces 4th Annual Diversity Festival Online

Returning for a fourth year to celebrate and explore diversity and inclusion in comedy and entertainment, The Groundlings Theatre and School is proud to announce their annual Diversity Festival on November 13-15, 2020. Taking place entirely online this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, The Groundlings have expanded their previous one-day event to a three-day weekend extravaganza with full days of sketch and improv classes, panels and shows. The Groundlings also welcome back sponsors NBC and Nickelodeon for a fourth year in a row.

"We are so thrilled to be able to host our annual festival this year to celebrate and explore our different stories and perspectives through art and entertainment," said Carrie LaFerle Gergely, Interim Managing Director for The Groundlings. "Building inclusive spaces and amplifying diverse voices is a vital priority for our organization. While this year the experience of our event will look a little different, we see it as an opportunity for people to join in these incredible classes, panels, and shows from anywhere in the world."

A line-up of improv shows and panels featuring Groundlings, alumni and special guests will take place each afternoon of the festival, including storytelling show "Minority Retorts," a "Women of SNL" panel and a "BIPOC Sketch Artists" panel. There will also be student-centered programming for Groundlings Diversity Scholarship recipients. The festival will also host several diversity-related classes exploring such topics as "Gender Bending: Exploring Characters of Different Genders," "Producing a Diversity in Comedy Workshop," and "Lady-Prov: Improv for the Most Militant of Feminists." These one-hour workshops are $10.00 each and registration will be open to the public. All shows and panels will be free and open to the public.

The Groundlings also announced a partnership with "Saturday Night Live" and the creation of the "SNL Scholarship" to initiate significant steps toward progressive recruitment of diverse applicants. The scholarship will go toward Groundlings students at any level who apply. Recipients will also have direct entry to submit an audition tape or sketch packet to "SNL."

In 2015, The Groundlings Theatre and School launched its diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives which include outreach workshops with local colleges and high schools as well as a scholarship program that has awarded over $190,000 in Groundlings School credit.

The festival is also a continuation of The Groundlings' partnership with NBC. Together they created the NBC/Groundlings Writing Lab Scholarship in 2016 that joined the network's long-standing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives for onscreen and behind-the-scenes talent. NBC provides full-tuition scholarships to students of diverse backgrounds for The Groundlings' Upper Division Writing Lab.

Nickelodeon will support the kids and teen portion of the program by sponsoring the improv training for a select group of kids and teens invited to perform at the Diversity Festival. Nickelodeon and The Groundlings have partnered for the past eleven years to help nurture the development of young talent. For over 20 years, Nickelodeon has cultivated a new generation of diverse and creative talent through its unique and innovative outreach programs including the Animated Short Program, Writing Program, Artist Program and Artist Collective. These hands-on programs were designed to provide innovative, inspiring, and educational opportunities for creative and diverse new talent.

"Over the last two decades through our partnership with The Groundlings, we've been able to find so many incredibly talented kids that our audience has come to know and love," said Paula Kaplan, Executive Vice President, Talent for ViacomCBS Kids & Family Entertainment. "We're thrilled to continue working together in our shared goal of discovering some of the best diverse, young talent in the industry, to further develop their skills and help give them the platform to become the next big breakout star."

In addition to the Diversity Festival, The Groundlings are also implementing new initiatives across both the Theatre and School to further their commitment to change and social accountability. Working with the organization since 2016, Povi-Tamu Bryant at Freedom Verses has been engaged with an increased scope of work to strengthen the Groundlings' efforts to be an anti-racist organization. A local strategic planning firm with a specialization in diversity, equity and inclusion practices, Freedom Verses are implementing new framework, policies and practices on all levels of the institution. This includes conducting anti-racist training, improved internal and external communication, and strengthening our organization's core mission and inclusivity.

The Diversity Festival will run daily from 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. from November 13 - November 15. For the schedule of classes and registration information, please visit https://www.groundlings.com/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-festival.


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