Civic Theatre Society’s Josh Wapp stands with his fistful of cash after another successful fundraising weekend at the Nelson theatre late last month where they showed Fistful of Dollars and Django Unchained.

Tails of the Nelson Civic Theatre, then and now

Kim Barker remembers the time she was sitting in the theatre on a summer evening when things got a little — wild.

All kinds go to the movies. Kim Barker remembers the time she was sitting in the theatre on a summer evening when things got a little — wild.

Perhaps the doors were open to let the cooler evening air in. Perhaps being a movie lover isn’t just for bipeds. I mean, doesn’t everyone love a good film?

“We thought it was a cat at first,” says Barker, describing the visitor as it rubbed up against the legs of unsuspecting people sitting in the aisle rows. “And then…pandemonium!”

It was, of course, a skunk.

The only thing you’ll smell when you come to the Deconstructing Dinner film fest movies this Saturday ( or our Earth Day weekend movies April 19 to 22 ( is freshly popped popcorn.

It’s a smell that was missing from the building for three long years. A lot of people have missed that smell, and have fond memories of the theatre exactly as it was.

There is understandable nostalgia for the Civic, wildlife notwithstanding: one screen, the old projector, mono sound, and that coveted front row mezzanine seat where you had a pony wall to put your drink on. But some critters must change their stripes to survive, and the Civic Theatre is no different.


Why three screens?

Distributors require that content be shown for a consecutive series of days, or you can’t show the film. For a town the size of Nelson, that can mean having to show a film long after everyone has seen it. Night after night of empty seats does not spell success — or even sustainability. With three screens, that new film can move from the main theatre to a smaller one, so there is always something new to see, and happy distributors.

With three screens, a community group can stage a play or concert or special event while films are running in adjacent theatres. With three screens comes flexibility.


What about chopping up that grand old space?

Walk up the ramp and if you’re a skunk — or even if you’re not — things look pretty much the same. Turn around, and enter either of the two small theatres. Miss that pony wall for your drink? No worries when the seats now have cupholders! The Civic will still be the Civic Theatre — your theatre.


So why digital?

There will be no 35mm print movies made after this year. No more huge reels to ship, no splicing a broken film on the fly (board member and former Civic projectionist Darryl Santano has a few good stories about that). The Civic must go digital, or go home.


But I still love the way it was!

Remember it was closed for three years? It’s a tough business. We want to bring that shared experience of the big screen back, and enable local programming. To be a successful community non-profit enterprise, we need to be more flexible than we could ever be with one space.

The Civic Theatre will always attract wildlife, if not our ubiquitous stripey friend, then certainly Nelson’s eclectic hominid variety.

This time around, the Nelson Civic Theatre will be a theatre for everyone: community-driven, sustainable, and making new memories for years to come.


Anne DeGrace is the president of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society. Herr Large Popcorn, Extra Butter column runs every two weeks in the Star. If you have a memory to share please email Find out more at


Just Posted

Seven Nelson rec projects granted Columbia Basin Trust funding

Nelson’s baseball and tennis clubs were the big winners

UPDATE: Two-car accident closes Highway 3A at Thrums

Road expected to open for single-lane alternating traffic at 2 p.m.

1919: Hudson’s Bay Company gets an addition, council votes to exclude ‘undesirable enemy aliens’

Greg Scott brings us five Nelson Daily News stories from a century ago

Call a foul on cancer with the Pink Whistle Campaign

Local basketball referees are raising money for cancer research

Man found dead identified as Andreas Pittinger

Pittinger was known locally for hosting a radio show

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Plecas won’t run in next election if B.C. legislature oversight reforms pass

B.C. Speaker and Abbotsford South MLA says he feels ‘great sympathy’ for Jody Wilson-Raybould

Workshop with ‘accent reduction’ training cancelled at UBC

The workshop was cancelled the same day as an email was sent out to international students

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Snow turns to slush, rain as it warms up across B.C.’s south coast

Some areas are already covered by more than half a metre of snow following three separate storms

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Most Read