Achieving and surpassing their fundraising target for a digital projector was just one of several highlights for the Civic Theatre Society over the past year.

Nelson Civic Theatre Society moving forward

After last month’s Nelson Civic Theatre annual general meeting I received an email from Gray Creek pioneer Tom Lymbery.

After last month’s Nelson Civic Theatre annual general meeting I received an email from Gray Creek “mayor,” history buff, and local pioneer Tom Lymbery.

“Congratulations Anne on handling a full theatre at the Civic  —  and thank you so much for the effort you have put into this project,” wrote Tom. “We enjoyed the movie very much — otherwise I couldn’t have got my wife, Sharon, to come to an AGM.”

It was great to see Tom and Sharon at the AGM, along with 289 other Nelson Civic Theatre Society members, some of whom would not normally have come to an AGM. Knowing this, and knowing we had to pull out all the stops to get our 10 per cent quorum out in order to change the bylaws that required a 10 per cent quorum, we resorted to a little bribery.

We offered a social hour with appies (thank you, Save-on!) and tours beforehand and a free movie with popcorn and drink afterwards. We showed Hugo, a delightful movie about movies. And it worked. (Of course, many of you came just because you cared.)

I gave the president’s report, describing our journey — trajectory, really — from semi-gutted space to going concern: seats in, fully digital, regular films, not to mention those supportive 2,117 members. I also lauded our staff, including “Central Nerve” operations and project manager Sue Adam, fundraising manager Roger “Go-get-‘em” Ley, and our resident cinephile and theatre manager Jason Asbell. And I gushed about my fellow board members, of course, because they really are a rare and special bunch. Committee chairs and members, volunteers — extraordinary hardly touches it, really.

Treasurer Rick Dietrich reported on financials, noting our happily positive cashflow but cautioning that our staff is subsidized through various grants and that to be profitable — and therefore able to maintain the theatre and give back to the community in the long term — three screens remains an essential goal.

Roger Ley reported on fundraising successes, in particular the community challenge that saw more than $180,000 raised in two months for digital conversion, and outlined challenges for the next development phases. Roger talked about major supporters such as the Columbia Basin Trust, described the corporate sponsorship program, and introduced the members of our fundraising campaign cabinet — local movers-and-shakers all.

Jason Asbell reported an astonishing figure of 40 different movies shown since we opened as a fully digital theatre just three months ago. He described the challenges of distributors’ requirements, and our strategy to show films a few weeks after release for maximum flexibility. And he announced Monthly Member Movie Mondays (MMMM) with a chance to vote from the Theme-of-the-month list for a free movie for members.

Volunteer committee co-chair Anna Purcell described the thousands (yes, thousands) of hours put in by volunteers, from cleaning through committees. She also noted the volunteer contributions of our paid staff, who log many hours above and beyond.

And then nominating committee chair and vice president Marilyn Mint introduced the new board, who are: (continuing): John Brand, Rick Dietrich, Marilyn Mint, Darryl Santano, Ken Spencer, and (new): Don Johnston, Graeme Leadbeater, Mary Prothro, and Mark Stevens. Let me say now that this is an exceptional board going forward, which is great — because while there is much to celebrate, there is still much to do.

Oh — and that quorum question? You discussed, you amended, and you eventually passed a more easily achievable AGM quorum — phew! Next year we’ll fill the seats not because we have to, but simply because you want to be there. It’s your theatre, after all.

The Nelson Civic Theatre project is all about building community, and building good memories like the one Tom included in his letter, in which a movie in Nelson was a rare and special thing.

“When my sister and I were young we only got one trip to Nelson each year, by Greyhound, to see the dentist,” Tom wrote.  “Overnight at a $2 room at the Hume and a movie at the Capitol or the Civic.”

Isn’t it great that the Hume, the Capitol, and the Civic are still here, all these years later? We’ll strive to be not so rare, but we’ll definitely work to stay special.

Anne DeGrace is the past president of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society. Large Popcorn, Extra Butter runs every two weeks. If you have a Civic Theatre memory to share please email anne(at)civictheatre.ca. Find out about movies and more at civictheatre.ca