The Capitol Theatre may be talking about purchasing a movie projector, but executive director Neil Harrower says they will not be taking on the role of movie theatre.
“The Capitol is not changing its mandate in anyway whatsoever,” said Harrower. “We would have bought this projector five years ago if we had the resources to do it. It just seems to be happening in tandem with the Civic [Theatre] under all this scrutiny for its future. The two of them are completely isolated events.”
The Capitol Theatre announced in February that they would be purchasing a movie projector in the new fiscal year which begins May 1.
While the new projector opens up the opportunity for movies to be shown at the Capitol, Harrower said the new equipment will not change the direction of the theatre.
“We don’t have the ability to become a movie theatre and we won’t,” said Harrower. “Our mandate is theatre, music, dance and visual arts and so if we went occasionally to someone who would like to show a movie, then the projector is just adding that additional service.”
Since the request for proposal for the Civic Theatre was announced last month Harrower and the Capitol Theatre did look into the potential of acquiring the Civic, but found that it would irresponsible.
“We did look at it logically and rationally, and again it would be irresponsible of our society to put ourselves in that kind of risk. Not only for the obvious reasons of fundraising to repair it, but in this economic climate we would be putting our lives at risk,” he said. “We’re barely scraping by here and we’re doing well with the theatre that we have. So for all of those reasons we’re not interested in trying to take over. I personally would like to see a movie theatre, but you know if that doesn’t happen and it becomes something else and it serves the community… I’d be just as happy.”
There are two community groups that have come forward stating interest in the Civic Theatre space.
The Downtown Athletic Club has put a proposal forward to convert the theatre to a facility that would accommodate a climbing gym and squash courts in addition to other sports facilities.
“We did have a tour of the Civic with Mayor [John] Dooley and councillor [Donna] Macdonald,” said Harrower. “We looked through the whole place for about an hour trying to figure out would it be a good place; a) for the Capitol to move into; b) the Capitol to umbrella with its charitable status and build as a second stage in Nelson. The Capitol Theatre here on Victoria Street has more of what we need than the Civic does. We have office space, dressing room space and a shop. The Civic has none of that and no backstage.”
Regardless of the proposal chosen by the city, Harrower said the Capitol Theatre will support the chosen project 100 per cent.
A group of residents are also organizing a non-profit group which hopes to restore the Civic Theatre as a movie theatre.