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Nelson's Civic Theatre Society halfway to first fundraising goal

Every seat was full as the Nelson Civic Theatre celebrated its first film screening in three years on Friday night. - Sam Van Schie photo
Every seat was full as the Nelson Civic Theatre celebrated its first film screening in three years on Friday night.
— image credit: Sam Van Schie photo

A generous donation from an anonymous community member has pushed the Nelson Civic Theatre Society past the halfway point on its fundraising effort towards digitization of the theatre.

The donor paid $60,000 to buy the theatre's first digital projector. Add that to amount raised by early membership sales, seat sponsorships and other donations, and the society is now about  $75,000 away from the first phase of it's plan, with a price tag of $150,000 for purchase and installation of the projector and digital surround sound system.

"I'd like to challenge the community to raise the rest by May 1, so we can be set up in time to show all the summer blockbusters," society spokesperson Roger Ley said. "It seems like a lot —$75,000 — but when you break it down by individual donations, we just need 750 people to come in with $100 cheques."

If kickoff weekend screenings of James Bond Skyfall are any indication, there's no shortage of people eager to watch movies on the big screen. The Friday night grand gala event was sold out, and people lined up down the street to get into the regular screening Saturday evening — so many that the society put out folding chairs after all 250 plush seats were full. There was also a packed Saturday matinee.

"There was super great energy and great crowds at every screening," Ley said. "It absolutely showed that people want their movie theatre back."

But until the theatre goes digital, the society is extremely limited in terms of what movies it can show. Many film distributors are reluctant to send out the old 35mm film reels that work with theatre's current projector.

"This the the community's theatre and the sooner the community comes together to help us fund the digitization piece, the sooner we'll be showing more movies," Ley said.

In the meantime, the theatre society will continue to offer monthly screenings of 35mm films. The date and film for the next screening will be determined in the coming weeks.

"We're trying to find a good kid-friendly film," he said.

The longterm plan for the Civic Theatre involves splitting the space into a three screen multiplex.

The City of Nelson will issue a tax receipt for donations ear marked for the Civic Theatre renovation.

For more details on ways to contribute see civictheatre.ca.

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