Today we are very excited to put our next session of classes for 2016 up on the website, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to sign up to continue learning with us. I also hope you’ll take a few minutes to read this message so you know about changes we are making to class prices starting with Session 3.
As current students will probably know, this is an exciting time – we are getting ready to move shows to a new, larger stage on the first floor of the Adrienne in the next few weeks, and at the same time we are finishing improvements (large and small) to our classrooms started last summer. Thanks to the success of our Diversity Program scholarships, the community at PHIT is more diverse than it has ever been and we’re in the process of giving more than $50,000 worth of classes to women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, veterans, people over the age of 40 and differently-abled performers this year. We’ve been able to do this without going to the community to ask for fundraising help and we hope to continue be a theater company which proudly operates on our revenues, even as we continue to do more and even cooler things in the near future.
Meeting this goal is not without its challenges though: our expanded new home costs significantly more than it did – in terms of rent, but also utilities, insurance, staffing, etc. Add to that all the cool new programs we are running and it does require some rebalancing of our books. In the last few weeks I’ve worked with our Education Director Mike Marbach and Artistic Director Jess Snow to look at how we’ll make this all work while still being fair to students and audiences and I’m proud of the changes we have decided to make, which I am announcing today. Our overall goal with everything we did around pricing at the theater for this year was to try and be fair and be able to explain our decisions simply. Hopefully you’ll agree that we achieved that goal once you think over the changes. Here they are:
Starting with Session 3 class which are enrolling today, the prices we charge for our core curriculum classes and longer advanced classes will reflect the length of time those classes meet for. In the past, all classes were the same price – even though 301/401 classes meet for 50% more time than 101 classes (3 hours instead of 2 hours). We’ve also decided that we want to make our introductory comedy class experience more accessible by keeping the price lower, so the new prices for our core classes will be $249 for 2 hour classes ($50 less than before), $299 for 2.5 hour classes (this price stays right where it was), and $349 for 3 hour classes.
We’re also simplifying our early registration discount and sales. Instead of having a sale on 101 classes and an early registration period which ends a few weeks before class starts we’ll now have every class we offer on sale for $50 during the first month it’s online. That means 101 classes will be $199, 201 classes will be $249, and 301+ classes will be $299 during the first four weeks they are open to enroll.
For our electives, we’ll set those prices the same as our higher level classes and pro-rate based on the number of weeks: so a 4-week elective will be $169, a 6-week elective will be $259, and an 8-week elective will be $349. Since electives are frequently posted close to the start of a session – or sometimes even in the middle of sessions – we will not be offering early registration discounts.
Finally, our practice groups will be expanding to every week at lower levels and we’ll adding sketch practice groups. You’ll now have an improv and a sketch practice group offered every week, even between sessions, so you can stay sharp. In addition, you’ll be able to sign up for a spot in practice groups during the week before they are offered – no more traveling down to the theater only to arrive and learn that the group you wanted to do is full. In order to make this work we will be changing the prices of practice groups to cover the administrative cost: for current students, practice groups will be $5 when you show your ID, and for students between session a practice group will be $20. All practice groups and the new sketch practice groups will remain 2 hours in length. We’ve had a number of students ask us over the years if they could retake levels for half-price, and under the new weekly practice group setup, someone between classes who comes to 8-weeks of practice groups (whether they are 102, 202, etc.) will essentially be able to do just that.
This is the first time we have changed class prices since 2013 and we believe it’s a very good deal for some of the best comedy training in the country. For a student going through Improv 101 – 401 or Sketch 101 – 401 under the new prices they will only pay $50 more across the course of all their classes than they would have if they had taken them last year. To compare – If you travel to Chicago for a class at The Second City or iO you would pay to $280-$349, and in New York a similar class would cost $400-$475 at the UCB Theatre. At the Walnut Street Theatre in Philly (the only comparably-sized theatre training program downtown) you would pay $275-$340 for a class – and only save $10 by registering early. Like I said – our goal was to be fair and easier to explain and I think we’ve achieved that while still keeping the cost of classes accessible.
It’s hard to believe just how far we have come from our humble beginnings in the basement of a church a little over a decade ago. Session 3 is going to be big a bunch of reasons – a new expanded sketch curriculum (with sketch practice groups!), more electives for advanced students, more special guests from out of town, and more classes than ever before. In fact, this year we expect to host thousands of students at Training Center, which is just as incredible to me as it probably is to you. Thanks again for being part of the amazing community at PHIT – the home for comedy in Philadelphia. I look forward to seeing all of you in and out of the building throughout the rest of the year!
Philly Improv Theater (PHIT)