The latest Oscar nominees could be simultaneously screening alongside blockbuster flicks as well as local films at the Civic Theatre if an ambitious plan to install two more screens can secure funding.
Board director Brian May and executive director Eleanor Stacey presented an outline for Civic Theatre’s next three years to city council last week that would lead to the construction of a three-screen venue. If all goes according to plan, initial construction of the $2.85-million project would begin in August 2019.
May said one screen is not sustainable long term for the theatre.
“Opening a second theatre allows us to have consistent profit margins and consistent success,” said May. “What a third theatre allows us to do is have even more success, but also to have a venue for the local film industry, to show their films and to be creating films, to hold dialogues in while we’re holding movies in two theatres, to hold webinars, which we’ve already hosted.”
Plans for the addition of three screens have been around since the Civic Theatre re-opened in 2013, but May said nothing could be done until the non-profit society could prove its stability over five years.
The society is hoping to secure 67 per cent of its funding from regional, provincial and federal grants. Twenty three per cent would come from corporate donations, while the final 10 per cent would be via community fundraising in 2020.
“The idea is to be more than just a theatre,” said May. “We will be showing partners that we will be doing job creation, industry creation, bringing in community liason and everything else. So a big part of the grant application is more than just movies, by all means. It’s unique to Nelson.”
May said grant applications are underway for the first phase, which will cost $1.36 million to build a new central projection room, install a sound-proof wall and re-organize the lobby area. The society hopes to break ground on that phase next year, which would shut down the theatre for an estimated four months.
The second phase would require $890,000 to complete construction of a second screen, while the third phase would need another $600,000 for the planned third screen.
The first movies began screening at the theatre in 1937. It was run privately until initially closing down in 2011, a fate May said the addition of two more screens would help the society prevent from happening again.
“It allows us to do all the things that the society wants to do reflective of the community,” said May. “It’s a dynamic society and a dynamic community. We want to do the things a community wants to see from a theatre, which is more than a private operator would do.”
In 2017, the Civic Theatre had 870 members, 22 staff, and showed 402 screenings of 130 films to approximately 45,000 visitors.