One year ago this week, the Civic Theatre elves — uh, volunteers — were busy sweeping out four years of accumulated dust and debris from the lobby and doing their very best to make things twinkly.
It took some elbow grease, but our elves cheerfully rolled up their sleeves.
We planned to put on the wassail and invite folks to take a look around and, if they became as excited as we were about the potential for Nelson’s Depression-era darling, make a donation towards its revitalization for that year-end charitable tax receipt.
We’ve been blessed with fabulous elves since the get-go at the Civic, and that day things were as twinkly as they could be, considering.
You came, twinkled back, and before long we had enough local support to convince the first of our funders that the Civic was a sound investment.
Folks who came that day came with curiosity, and they came with stories.
Clearly, nostalgia plays big in your support. Recently, Phil Spencer chimed in with his own story about sneaking into the theatre with his brother one Saturday in the 1940s.
“The theatre was full of noisy, rambunctious kids. Leigh and I hid behind the last row of seats and waited for the lights to go off and the movie to start,” he said.
“The noise level rose to a riot pitch and kids were running all over the place with the usherettes also running about. Our dog, Rover, decided to sneak in as well and was running about in search of us. Needless to say, we were doomed! Mr. Hughes gave us a tongue-lashing and told us to return when the matinee was over.”
Phil and his brother had to clean the lobby and washrooms — and safe to say they were likely less enthusiastic than our volunteer elves.
But if the Civic was the stuff of good memories in the war years, the best part is that we’re making new memories now.
And there’s no question that enthusiasm for the theatre is higher than ever, with an average audience size of 66 per cent for Catching Fire (25 per cent is considered good by most Canadian theatres).
One year later, we’ve still got the best elves in the world.
We’ve come a long way from that December day, when the seats were still stacked on the stage and the old projector hunkered like a mastodon in that dark booth.
We’re running films and community events all week long in our fully-digital theatre, thanks to hard work and fabulous community support, from sleeve-rolling to cheque-writing.
We can’t burn out our elves, and we can’t rest on our laurels.
The Civic is open and making memories, but if we want it to stay open for decades to come, we need a multi-purpose, multi-theatre venue for flexibility and long-term viability.
Every community dollar leverages funds from granting agencies; currently, the Nelson Civic Theatre Society is working to raise $130,000 to release additional grant funds.
You can be an elf, too! All donations made to the City of Nelson earmarked for the Nelson Civic Theatre Society are eligible for a charitable tax receipt, and donations made before December 31 will figure in your 2013 tax return.
How twinkly is that?
Okay, twinkly tax receipts are a stretch, but the Nelson Civic Theatre as a community project is twinkly in the best possible way: by building community, providing entertainment for all ages, and keeping Nelson vibrant.
And by being a place where good memories are born — and elves rule.
— Anne DeGrace is the past president of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society.
Her column runs every two weeks. If you have a Civic Theatre memory to share please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out about movies at civictheatre.ca.