COLUMN: Technicolor sunsets, and you

From the beginning, movie-goers have encountered the smiling faces of Andromeda Drake, Penny Riordan, Judy Laret and more.

The Civic Theatre’s success is a testament to true community effort. It’s what makes me so sure we’ll achieve our long-term three-theatre goals.

The Civic Theatre is also where people find community. Think of a ship where every hand on deck is dedicated to the success of the voyage: through weather fair and stormy, our volunteers are an extraordinary crew.

Ushers and membership table-sitters are always volunteer, with paid staff in concession, box office, and floor management most nights. Thursday nights, on the other hand, are entirely staffed by volunteers.

And what a crew they are.

From the very beginning, Thursday night movie-goers have encountered the smiling faces of Andromeda Drake, Penny Riordan, Judy Laret, Elaine Moore, Charles Ward and Kathleen Nichol. Other regulars are Francine Brillon, Joyce MacDonald, Nicole Tarasiuk, Brittan McClay, and Leslie Campos, with other great volunteers filling in from time to time.

Team leads are Anna Purcell, Tara Cunningham, Lori Orser and Gabriele Sinclair, who rotate the job of making sure volunteers feel welcomed and appreciated, and are clear on their duties.

Anna is also volunteer coordinator, along with board member Mary Prothro. A tight (and happy) ship, you might say.

Andromeda Drake is one dedicated sailor. The whole Drake family — Andromeda, son Jaeden, and daughters Kazia and Sienna — missed the Civic when it closed, and like many had lost hope of it ever reopening.

“So as soon as we saw Josh in front of the Royal Bank, I knew this was the perfect thing to support with our time,” says Andromeda.

Andromeda and Jaeden began manning the membership booth around town. Later, mother and son helped with clean-up, sweeping and painting. When the big screen lit up at last, all four family members started working the concession on Thursday nights as a fun way to spend time together.

For a while it was playfully dubbed the Drake Family Concession — Jaeden even designed t-shirts — until Sienna went off to college and Jaeden’s new job meant less free time. Kazia, by then, had been hired as staff. Andromeda still volunteers every Thursday night.

“The volunteer group is the best I’ve ever worked with,” she says. “The communication is the best I’ve ever known in a non-profit, too, and I just don’t know how Anna and Tara manage to answer all our e-mails so quickly and organize our hordes into the right time and place.

“Simply, when volunteering at the Civic, I feel noticed, valued, respected and like I’m on a team that’s making a positive difference. Sounds corny, but it’s true!”

The feeling is mutual. Says Tara: “Andromeda is a blessing for the theatre. She’s happy, dependable and supportive to all of the other volunteers. When things get busy she gets less ruffled, and she truly contributes to a fun and relaxing atmosphere.”

Volunteers with all kinds of skills are needed for a span of jobs large and small, from team leads and ushers to fresh crew for marketing, publicity, membership, data entry, fundraising, events coordination, website development, and more.

It’s not always smooth sailing on the Good Ship Civic, as anyone involved will tell you. It’s a big vessel, after all. As Anna says, “Keeping the Civic up and running can be a lot like building a sail boat and bailing at the same time!”

Luckily, we’re becoming adept at both. But any ship is as good as its crew, and that’s where you come in. Contact Anna and Mary by e-mailing to get on board.

And together we’ll sail off into a new day—in Technicolor.

Anne DeGrace is the past president of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society, which is working to develop the theatre into a multi-venue community space for movies, live performance, and more. Find out about all things Civic Theatre at

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