NCTS publicity team members Cath McIntosh and Anita Baars all dressed up for the Nelson Hustle.

COLUMN: Spinning gold into gold

This is a group of imaginative people who can spin an idea into a reality like straw into gold.

Spin is a word with various uses, from spinning wool to spinning vinyl. Sometimes “spin” refers to propaganda. But spin can also be about the creative ways a message is relayed, the better to spark imaginations and enthusiasm.

In the case of the Nelson Civic Theatre’s Publicity Committee, spin is that and more. This is a group of imaginative people who can spin an idea into a reality like straw into gold. This is a group with so much energy and enthusiasm they sometimes make my head spin.

Last week I attended a meeting with our new marketing guru Sandra Bishop. The publicity gang was there (along with board members, fundraising committee members and staff), as a plan was unveiled for Civic Story 2, a fun play on Toy Story 2 as the theme for our New Concession Campaign.

We’re so close: $15,000 remains to be raised for a $50,000 matching grant. That’s just 60 seat sponsorships (and donor wall fame), and of course every dollar helps.

Once realized, we’ll have an updated, highly functioning concession that will vastly improve your movie experience and our bottom line, both essential so we can all continue to enjoy our theatre far into the future. And so, the spin begins.

Roger Ley’s pre-movie slide “Siri, why does it take so long to get my popcorn?” gets a few laughs every time it comes around. Sandra’s proposed poster copy riffs on movie reviews: “I laughed! I cried! I ate!”

And as we met, new ideas for poster design (Bronwyn Larsen), Facebook postings (John Paolozzi and more recently, Sherry Perry), how to build a Toy Story-esque rocket ship as fundraiser thermometer (everyone), and how to make it all run smoothly (Anita Baars) were spun.

Creativity coupled with sound business practice is what has made — and continues to make — the Civic Theatre successful. But the fun, for me, is in the spin. It’s what brought you Bond Night and The Nelson Hustle, created a performance art moment in the Community Challenge fundraising reveal, and what gets even the most reticent dresser-uppers into tuxes or tutus.

It’s been a privilege to work with this dedicated group. Josh Wapp started us off by being the icon he is, and lending his formidable graphic skills. Cath McIntosh pulled together our new logo, that cool art deco architectural feature, and introduced the weekly flyers and ads.

Anna Purcell, who also co-chairs the volunteer committee, writes the monthly newsletter in her charmingly quirky style, and Jeff Forst looks after getting out the weekly heads-up on coming attractions.

Yours truly writes this column and most of the press releases.

Staff members Roger Ley, Jason Asbell, and Jessica Pignataro look after website copy and coordination, and are particularly good at camping it up so the spin is fun and informative.

Anita deserves kudos for having kept this creative cohort on task. There are the weekly “Now Playing” emails and website updates. There are posters and flyers (created these days by Bronwyn, also the theatre’s cashier), which must be distributed (thanks to Anita and Cayenne for flyer delivery, now Tim Clinton and Don Parks). There are monthly newsletters and sporadic press releases. And there is always special promotion for fundraising campaigns and events. It’s a big, spinning wheel.

For all this, the publicity committee has it easier than the miller’s daughter, who in Rumpelstiltskin had to spin straw into gold. That’s because what we’re starting with already is gold: a historic theatre in a creative town. We’re just shining it up, with a lot of rolled-up sleeves and some serious spit and polish, and we’re spinning a new tale as we do. As in the Grimm’s tale, an elf or two makes all the difference.


— 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 more. Want to be an NCTS elf? To find out more or make a donation go to

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