UPDATED: Group looks to keep Nelson’s Civic Theatre alive

Cindy Sherry is one of the organizers of a new group who hopes to keep Nelson
Cindy Sherry is one of the organizers of a new group who hopes to keep Nelson's Civic Theatre alive.
— image credit: Megan Cole photo

Nelson city council has announced they will extend the deadline for the Civic Theatre request for proposal.

Proponents will now have until May 31 to submit ideas to the city.

The announcement comes at the same time as a new group interested in showing movies at the Civic again is forming.

“Our family loves movies,” said Cindy Sherry, one of the group’s organizers. “We do like to go to movies and we do enjoy watching movies at home. It’s a family event that we like to do together and it keeps us close together. I was very frustrated with having to drive to Castlegar to see a movie when we have a theatre here.”

Sherry works at Baker Street Menswear and was inspired to form a society for the Civic Theatre after speaking with her boss Michael Borsch last week.

“He said that there was a gentleman in here last summer in July and he’s been involved with the Salmon Arm Theatre for 30 years,” said Sherry. “He’s on the board of directors. For 65 years they’ve been running it as a non-profit theatre. So it got my mind going, thinking that perhaps we could do that here.”

Sherry is calling on residents who want to see movies stay at the Civic Theatre to attend a meeting this Thursday at 2 p.m at the Vienna Café.

“I don’t think it is up to the City,” she said. “It was run as a business. If they did become involved it would mean a tax increase and we’re already taxed hard. The people who can’t afford higher taxes, I don’t think should get that.”

Sherry said it is up to the community now to work hard to reopen the theatre if they want it.

“The community has got to step up and there needs to be more dialogue in what we want to do with that theatre because once it’s gone it’s gone. That will be it,” she said.

At this point the main contender for the site is a proposal put forward by a combined squash/climbing wall group who would transform the facility into a multi-use sports venue called the Nelson Downtown Athletic Club. Sherry said her enthusiasm to keep the theatre has nothing to do with the alternative, she just wants to see if there is enough community desire to keep movies playing at the building.

“Those fellows have been working hard for their proposal for the climbing wall and the squash courts. They are very enthusiastic and I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes,” said Sherry.

The Salmar Community Association who runs both the Salmar Grand Cinemas and Salmar Classic Theatre has offered to host a delegation from Nelson to show them how they run their theatres and the association.

“They’ve been able to give back to their community two-fold because everything goes back out,” said Sherry. “This year they are awarding seven scholarships to high school students. That’s what I’m researching and looking into.”

Sherry and other members of the group will also be out around Nelson on Saturday raising awareness for the group and collecting signatures.

City councillor Donna Macdonald said Sherry had contacted her after reading her column in the Star.

“My understanding is that she reads the Nelson Star and she read my column in which I said we have two choices facing us: we need a gang of champions from the community to come together and come up with a concept that works or else our other choice at this point is to look at the downtown athletic park,” said Macdonald.

With Nelson’s strong co-operative culture, Macdonald said a non-profit group may work well for the civic project.

“It doesn’t seem that the private sector is stepping forward, although we have just extended the deadline,” said Macdonald. “But if a community group of film and culture lovers can come together and present something that is feasible I would hope that it would find support in council. But just to be clear I don’t have a position at this time.”


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