I grew up here in Nelson seeing films at The Civic Theatre. (In fact, I saw Annie in 1982 in this theatre, and just saw the new Annie on the weekend with my five-year-old daughter!)
I left to go to school, and since then I’ve lived in a number of different places in North America and abroad. Everywhere I’ve lived I’ve struggled to explain what sort of place Nelson is, because I knew just how extraordinary a community it was. And still is.
The Herculean effort of 2,000 local citizens to reopen The Civic Theatre is incredibly unique. As the new executive director of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society, at times I still cannot believe how many dedicated volunteers have played a part in opening our doors, and still have a significant hand in our operations. It is truly remarkable, and a wonderful story and example to share with friends in other places when I try to describe my delight at having the chance to work in my field in my hometown.
And our not-so-average membership has laid the groundwork for not-so-average plans for the organization and the facility.
Why just open the doors when we could improve our space, set a course to add more theatres, and become a centre for much more than seeing movies?
The vision and drive of the NCTS board of directors is tremendous and exciting, and as a team this group is pretty spectacular. We are set up to become something truly exceptional in the world, and it will be much more than a movie theatre.
While capital renovations are still a bit further down the line, there is much that we are doing right now to become the unique organization we desire to be.
At our AGM in October our purposes were revised to expand our focus to include a deep and diverse commitment to programs and services benefitting the greater community.
Since then we have turned our focus to realizing this new commitment: December events like our New Year’s Eve Family Pajama Party and our free Winter Celebration Home for the Holidays are aimed at creating family memories while deepening connections with local businesses.
The launch of our noontime monthly Babes in Arms screenings is to offer an opportunity for parents with babies to see movies geared towards adults (and of course, you don’t need to be a parent with small children to attend at these times).
We have also formalized community programs for subsidized rentals and ticket donations to nonprofits, and begun to offer other services, like the option to hold children’s birthday parties in our lobby before or after a film (all these things are now explained in more detail on our website, civictheatre.ca).
Our organization is still so young, but we are well on our way to being much more than a movie theatre.
But of course, the films are the heart and soul of what we do and who we are as an organization, and January is shaping up to be another great month for film at The Civic.
Upcoming Thursdays include John Stewart’s Rosewater on January 8, the dark and fascinating Foxcatcher on January 15, and Tommy Lee Jones period (mid)Western The Homesman on January 22. We are also looking forward to bringing Vermeer and Music: the Art of Love and Leisure on January 26 (please note the date change).
And there is much more in the works for this month: we expect The Interview, Imitation Game, Unbroken, Selma, and Paddington in the coming weeks as well.
As Annie would say “let’s go to the movies!”
— Eleanor Stacey is the executive director of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society.