A few weeks ago, a handful of parents kindly responded to my request for some feedback through a few online social media groups. I was pondering our Babes in Arms weekly daytime screenings (which take place every Monday at 11 a.m.), namely why we weren’t seeing many parents with small children at the theatre at these times.
We’ve been pleased to welcome a good number of seniors, mostly, who enjoy the option of seeing movies during the day, but the intergenerational part of the program hasn’t really been realized.
There were a few different reasons the mums and dads weren’t coming out (some cited nap times or multiple children in tow), but by and large there was one overarching reason that they weren’t coming: they simply didn’t know about it.
This got me thinking about the dialogue that we have with our community through this bi-weekly column in the Nelson Star, through our weekly newsletters, Facebook, our weekly flyers. Special event posters carefully placed in spots where the anticipated audience will see them. Radio. Our word-of-mouth.
We think that through all these efforts we are spurring dialogue with people in our community, and at times, we definitely do, but other times we may be overestimating the reach and impact of these efforts.
It does happen sometimes, that while organizing an event or experience, the group rallying behind it are so excited and enjoying the anticipation of their big idea that they somehow forget to really tell other people.
Then everyone is left wondering why so few people came when the event was so good. I wonder if that has been our misstep with Babes, or maybe our stuffed giraffe cradled by popcorn on our posters might simply not be resonating with many people who would otherwise possibly be coming out.
The funny thing about the Babes in Arms screenings is that while the attendance numbers have been low, the feedback we have heard has been overwhelmingly positive.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone say that they wish there had been a program like this when their children were babies, or how much they appreciate the opportunity to see a movie during daylight hours and when the buses are running. I wonder if people are just happy to know that the Monday screenings are there, in case they decide to come sometime.
But truly, I am betting on the possibility that we simply need to do a better job of getting word out about Babes in Arms, so here we go: every Monday at 11 a.m., the Civic Theatre is pleased to present Babes in Arms: an intergenerational screening of a current film.
We welcome everyone to attend, from parents with tiny babies, and honourary aunties and uncles, to seniors on their own or with friends, couples who happen to both have the day off, and visitors to Nelson on a rainy day. At the request of parents, the lights may be on just a little bit and the sound may be a tad lower, but to no detriment of the quality of the cinematic experience for everyone.
And in the spirit of being an intergenerational and welcoming environment, babies might cry, but everyone understands that this is just the nature of the Babes screenings. (So far, it hasn’t happened very often either.)
The next two weeks Babes screenings will be Marvel’s Avengers (June 1) and While We’re Young (June 8). Yes, vastly different films, but variety is also in the nature of Babes in Arms, and we hope that if you’ve been wishing for daytime programming, you’ll come out and give it a go. (In fact, for these two screenings, let us know you heard about Babes in Arms in the Nelson Star, and a cup of Oso coffee is on us!)
Eleanor Stacey is executive director of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society. The society contributes a column every two weeks.