Save Nelson’s Civic Theatre

A Nelson resident expresses concerns over the future of the Civic Theatre

An open letter to the City of Nelson and its citizens.

Over the last year I have been driving past the shell of a Civic Theatre with its doors shut. Advertising on the doors, for movies never to come, obscure my vision as to what is going on in our classic art deco theatre. To date we have heard no official explanation as to the status of our cherished theatre. I have asked a few questions and received answers from some Nelson city workers and a previous councillor. I would like to share my findings.

I understand that the city struck a deal with a management group from out of town to renovate and operate the theatre. It seems they had aspirations to modernize the interior. They ripped out all the old seats and sold them off for a dollar each. I’ve been told that new ones were purchased and are in storage inside the building.

Apparently the new leasers were unable to secure their financing to move forward. Last summer I heard the City of Nelson was once again looking for tenants to get the theatre operational.

Now I hear that some local people are proposing the space for racquetball courts. This would be a tragic end to our beautiful community theatre.

Like many of you, I have fond memories of this theatre. I remember the first time I walked into a Thursday film night. The theatre was over half full with such an eclectic group of Kootenay folk.

What also struck me was its size and the plain Jane art deco feel of the old girl. I’m from Hamilton where all the classic theatres were abandoned or ripped apart. So to see the Nelson Civic Theatre intact and operational was a treat.

I have had the honour to see Buffy Saint-Marie perform there. I also saw Spirit of the West who continued to perform even after the power went out. I’m sure many people could contribute their own stories and reasons why our theatre should remain a theatre.

I am asking for an official explanation from the City of Nelson as to what is happening to our theatre and what we as a community can do to resurrect it as a theatre.

I personally am willing to help with this endeavour. Any feedback would be appreciated.

I would encourage those who read this letter to share it with others who live in the greater Nelson community.

Stephen Collins

Six Mile