Once Nelson’s Civic Theatre is renovated into three screens and a new concession stand

COLUMN: All the right ingredients

For the most part, community use of the Civic Theatre is restricted to daytimes and to Monday and Wednesday evenings.

I’ve always said that good community connections are key ingredients for success of any project. In the stew that is the Nelson Civic Theatre project, this includes the meat (hard work), potatoes (fundraising), veggies (creative ideas), and spices (fun, laughter and occasional hijinks). Community — well, that’s the savoury broth that brings it all together.

Our community connections can be seen in every element of our hearty stew, from the businesses that contribute through donations and fundraisers to individuals who roll up their sleeves both figuratively and literally. It includes brainstorming sessions for crazy dress-up fundraisers, and it includes community use of the space for other great projects, causes, and initiatives.

Next on the menu is the film Ingredients, a joint fundraiser for Seeds (Seniors Economic Environment Development Society) and the Nelson Food Cupboard Society, on Monday, May 5 at 7 p.m. The film documents the local food and agriculture movement through the stories of the people who embrace it. There will be a raffle, silent auction, membership opportunities and, I imagine, a whole bunch of connecting.

I’ll always seize an opportunity for a running metaphor, so thanks to these two great organizations for that, and for doing what they do.

This event joins a grocery list of other community uses, including fundraising films, film festivals, memorial services, musical performances, a PAC meeting, and the Local Intelligence Gathering.

Organizations that have jumped into the Civic stewpot include Touchstones Nelson, Deconstructing Dinner, L.V. Rogers and Self Design high schools, Grans to Grans, West Kootenay Eco-Society, Nelson Youth Theatre and the Lions Club, among others.

For the most part, community use of the space is restricted to daytimes and to Monday and Wednesday evenings, with the exception of a film festival that might book an entire weekend, preempting the regular screening schedule altogether.

That’s because film distributors require a guarantee of continuous screenings, even for late first run films. Basically, if we don’t comply, we can’t get the film.

Turnouts at community events suggest that Nelson folks are happy participators any time, but it would be nice to be more flexible.

Since the doors reopened more than a year ago, you could say that the Nelson Civic Theatre has become a fine, bubbling pot of community connections. Yet the great demonstration of appetite for use of the space affirms that a bigger pot is needed.

When we can renovate into three theatres, well, the pot bubbles over so to speak. Then, we can screen a popular film in one theatre as part of Civic Theatre programming, a community film or lecture in another, and a birthday or retirement party in a third, for example.

Essentially, the scope for community connections triples.

For now, we’re juggling schedules to manage requests and we’re in the process of striking a new Community Outreach Committee to better engage and connect. We’re fundraising for concession improvements as we’re helping others fundraise for their own projects through the use of this connection-oriented community theatre.

We’re adding new, different ingredients all the time, and everyone’s stirring the pot. There’s no such thing as too many cooks in this kitchen. Because really, it takes a village to raise a really excellent meal, with enough for everyone to have seconds.


­— Anne DeGrace is the past president of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society, which is working to develop a multi-venue community space for movies, live performance, and great events for any appetite. To find out more or make a donation go to civictheatre.ca.

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