Your Stories – Luke Mallison, The Improv Theatre

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The Improv Theatre is the UK’s first full-time dedicated improv theatre company. With a team of 14, the theatre operates in a four-story building in Clifton, Bristol, where they put on regular shows, as well as teach Improv classes, workshops and function as a venue hire.

The Bristol Improv Theatre started life in 2012 as the Bristol Improv Network, founded by a volunteer-led collective of artists, teachers and producers to forge connections between the existing improv groups in Bristol. The Theatre opened its doors in 2017, off the back of the Improv Festival, an annual event here in Bristol

We spoke to Luke Mallison, the Executive Director of The Improv Theatre, who signed up to North & East Bristol Enterprise Support (NEBES) in October 2021. Luke told us about the challenges they have faced over the past couple of years, and how the support they received has helped them move forward.

“Improv isn’t very well known, however Bristol has a level of openness, and the people are open to taking a risk into how they spend their time and be more adventurous in trying new things” said Luke.

The pandemic was incredibly hard for a lot of businesses, especially those operating brick and mortar businesses and venues, like the Improv Theatre. Even now, with the rules around self-isolation and social distancing gone, it can be hard for people to adjust and feel reassured to visit spaces and venues, like the theatre. Luke explained that the impact of lockdowns is still being felt, as people are still reluctant to venture out to the theatre. 

In his new role as Executive Director, Luke sought support from NEBES who helped to develop a business plan, as well as their marketing strategy, to help them get back on their feet after the lockdown restrictions. 

When asked about the business support that Luke and his team from the theatre received, he stated, “I don’t think there has been a workshop I haven’t found helpful. We also received 1:1 support with our business plan and marketing strategy. Those weekly sessions have been really great as an external voice with business. It’s great to get a second opinion about things that I haven’t thought of.”

If you want to try something new and exciting in Bristol and aren’t worried about a bit of stage fright and want to support a local and independent business, the Improv Theatre might be for you!

If you’re very new to Improv, Luke recommends ‘This is your Musical’ which is a fully improvised musical. “The music and the story are all made up on the spot. I always leave that with a massive smile on my face”.

Whether you need help with your business strategy or just want to be part of a community of like-minded entrepreneurs, visit our website to find out more and enrol on our programme. You can also get in touch with the team to tell us about your business plans: nebes@ytko.com

North and East Bristol Enterprise Support is fully funded by Bristol City Council and West of England Combined Authority under Universal Business Support. Running until March 2023, the programme is offering workshops in marketing, finance, branding, business planning and strategy and much more, as well as providing free access to e-learning platforms, 1:1 advisory support and networking groups.