Nelson’s Civic Theatre can now move ahead with its dream of building two more small theatres within the current one.
The charitable organization has been awarded a $2,717,000 grant from a federal and provincial government recreation infrastructure program for just that purpose.
“So the upper portion of the theatre would have two new theatres there,” said the theatre’s executive director Eleanor Stacey.
This will allow the theatre to increase its income and diversify its offerings.
“This means that people won’t have to wait through a whole month of, say, Star Wars, after they’ve seen it once or twice,” Stacey said. “It means that we can show some other things in the meantime and really serve more diverse tastes.”
The theatre has always struggled with film distributors’ requirements that venues must run large mass-audience movies for a minimum number of days – often far too long for theatres in small communities.
The two new small theatres will also help the Civic fulfill the role of a cultural media arts centre, Stacey said.
“We want to make our space into a place that nurtures art and artists in our community.”
The grant will provide 65 per cent of the required $4.18 million for the project, and the theatre has already begun fundraising for the rest.
The City of Nelson awarded the theatre a $1 million line of credit in 2019. This was a big factor in getting the grant, showing that the theatre was equipped to raise the remainder.
“That enabled us to be able to apply for the grant and say this is shovel-ready,” Stacey said.
While the theatre’s operations have been affected by Covid-19, the planning for the capital project has been done and is expected to follow a 20-month timeline. The renovation will help to provide construction jobs during the economic downturn.
The Civic Theatre is one of four recipients of this funding in the Nelson-Creston area and one of two in Nelson. The Nelson Cycling Club received $118,956 for trail enhancements.
Michelle Mungall, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness, and MLA for Nelson-Creston, said in a news release, “These four projects contribute to our communities’ well-being and opportunities for prosperity at a time when we need them more than ever.”