Nelson Civic Theatre Society project manager Roger Ley is confident the group can raise $30

Nelson Civic Theatre challenge enters final weeks

Two week remain before the Nelson Civic Theatre Society’s Community Challenge deadline and the group is still $30,000 short.

Two weeks remain before the Nelson Civic Theatre Society’s Community Challenge deadline and the group is still $30,000 short of its fundraising goal.

But project manager Roger Ley isn’t worried. He says he’s talked to lots of people who plan to donate and just need some encouragement to get their cheques signed and delivered.

“I’m confident that we’re going to raise the rest of the money by the end of the month and have the theatre digital in time for summer blockbusters like the new Star Trek and Superman movies,” Ley said. “We are ordering the equipment — that’s how sure we are this is going to happen.”

The society launched its community challenge this past March, in the wake of a wildly successful opening weekend and news that an anonymous community member had donated $60,000 towards the $150,000 digitization project which, with the $15,000 already raised, put them halfway to their target.

The challenge was to raise the remaining $75,000 by May 1. So far $45,000 has rolled in, exclusively from individual donations and seat sponsorships at a cost of $250 each. Ley points out that another 120 seat sponsors would push the society to its goal.

“All our donors and seat sponsors can can take pride in knowing they made the theatre re-opening possible,” Ley said.

Save-On-Foods has sweetened the deal by offering a chance for all seat sponsors to win a $500 grocery gift card in a draw that will be held in May. The theatre society is also offering a private movie screening to the person who refers the most people to sponsor a seat through its Civic Ambassador program.

Once the money is raised, it will take about two weeks to install the new digital projector, sound system and a wall treatment to improve sound quality. If all goes as planned, the May movie weekend will be the debut of the new equipment.

The Civic has been hosting movie weekends the third week of every month. The April weekend opens this Thursday with an event co-sponsored by the ecoSociety.

The theatre plans to open more regularly after the digitization, though it’s yet to be determined exactly how often.

The ultimate goal is to divide the theatre into a three-screen multiplex, possibly by the end of 2014. Ley said the society will be looking more to corporate donations and in-kind arrangements to cover that element of the project, which could cost up to $2.5 million.

“We know there’s a lot of other groups and worthy causes competing for a limited number of fundraising dollars in the community, which is why we wanted to do this one big push and then get out of the spotlight,” Ley said. “We’ll still be raising money over the next year, but it will be happening more in the background.”

Ley noted community groups will be able to rent the theatre for their own movie nights and fundraisers. The theatre also has potential to serve as a live performance space for actors and musicians, as well as a place to show sporting events on satellite TV and live performances out of the Metropolitan Opera.

“There’s tons of potential. We’re creating this space for the community and we’re open to ideas on how to use it,” Ley said.

Donations to the civic theatre can be dropped off at City Hall, Save-On-Foods or put in an envelope and slipped through the theatre’s mail slot. To be eligible for a tax receipt, cheques must be made payable to the City of Nelson with a note in the memo field to earmark the money for the Civic Theatre.

For more information and updates, see civictheatre.ca/challenge.

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