Since the Kootenay Climbing Association put forward a proposal in conjunction with the squash club to transform the Civic Theatre, we have been attentive to the debate regarding proposals for the Civic Theatre.
We understand that many community members would like to see a movie theatre in Nelson. In making an initial proposal we attempted to have enough flexibility to allow space for other community stakeholders. This included a 1,400 square foot gym space that would be available to any community group that needed it. In addition, an undeveloped 1,200 square foot space was set aside for another group to utilize. That could be expanded and we are willing to work together on an inclusive design that could accommodate interested parties.
Initial inquiries with the forming theatre group have indicated that they are not interested in such a proposal at this time. Others have waded into the debate and asked a number of hard and reasonable questions about the viability of a large theatre in that space.
Along the same lines we would like all stakeholders with an interest in theatres, be it for live performances or movies, to consider what the most viable options for Nelson are. We would like decision makers to consider the problem based on what the community needs and wants in addition to what might be a viable business model.
Many questions need to be answered. Should the publicly subsidized Capitol be utilized fully before a similar sized facility is considered? Does the average citizen care whether a second theatre seats 150 people or 500? Could the Capitol offer independent and second run movies at off times? Is a second smaller movie/live performance venue more viable?
It is also important for everyone to consider the operating and capital costs of any endeavor. Funders or investors will have concerns about giving money to projects that are economically risky, compete with other stakeholders or have a diminishing client base.
The Kootenay Climbing Association does not want to be in competition or conflict with the community or other groups over the Civic Theatre.
We would like to work collaboratively with representatives from the city and other groups to explore options and find solutions that will work for everyone. Such models can work. For example in Bend, Oregon an old hotel was converted into a community space that includes: a Roman bath, a ballroom, a movie theatre and a bar. That is the kind of approach that creates resilient services for communities in these challenging and changing times. We think it is time for Nelson to embrace a similar approach and create a socially and economically viable solution for the Civic Theatre.
Shawn Tasker Kootenay Climbing Association