Save the Civic Theatre movement gaining momentum
Hold on just one minute Nelson City Council.
Before rubberstamping a proposal by the Nelson Downtown Athletic Club to renovate the former Civic Theatre into three squash courts, two multi-purpose gyms, a climbing wall and a lounge/social area a group lobbying to save the theatre wants to be heard.
The committee to save Nelson’s Civic Theatre has been collecting signatures in order to gauge the mood of residents.
And the response has been nothing short of overwhelming.
“So far there has been so much positive feedback,” said committee spokesperson Cindy Sherry told The Nelson Daily Saturday from the steps of the former Civic Theatre on Vernon Street.
“People can’t really understand why we don’t have a theatre. (Getting the word out) has really opened the floodgates.”
Sherry was standing outside the former Civic Theatre collecting signatures of support for keeping the cinema location with some of the committee members.
While Sherry has been drumming up support for a couple of weeks the committee of 12 really got down to work last week during its inaugural meeting.
According to Ken Spencer, the committee brimming with experience.
“We’re not just some mary-fairy group with some vague idea of how to run a theatre, we’ve got people with experience coming out and we’re looking at this from a point of view of operating a successful business,” Spencer explained.
Nelson has been without a theatre since September of 2010 when council and the theatre operators could not reach an agreement on a long-term lease.
The last month the theatre debate heated up when council heard a proposal by the Nelson Downtown Athletic Club to renovate the current theatre location, which would accommodate two groups without homes — squash club and climbing centre.
“We realize it’s going to be a big price tag as anyone who’s done renos knows . . . once you open up that can of worms it can become very expensive,” Sherry said.
“We’re working very hard to get a business plan together, build a model get construction estimates.”
Sherry said the business plan would not include a four-plex style operation similar to the Castlegar Cinemas located in the Sunflower City.
Instead, Sherry’s group wants to mirror the Salmon Arm model, a non-profit society called the Shuswap Film Society.
The society began operations in 1974 when a group of film fans in the North Okanagan City decided to initiate a lively program of movies from around the world unavailable at the time.
“What motivated me was talking to my employer at Baker Street Men’s Wear,” she explained.
“He had a customer come in this past summer from the board of directors from the Salmon Arm film location and they run their cinemas as a non-profit society.
“And that really resonated with me so I got on the phone pretty quickly with him.”
Sherry & Company received a bit of a reprieve when council extended deadline on proposals to May 31.
The original deadline was Tuesday, April 17.
Instead Tuesday is the date of a walk through of the current theatre facility for interested groups.
Sherry said the group collected 450 signatures the first weekend and now has petitions in no less than 10 businesses in Nelson.
Committee members have also set up shop at prominent locations around Nelson Saturday.
“The amount of positive feedback we’ve been getting it’s quite possible we can make this work,” Sherry said.
“What the outcome will be is still up in the air.”
What would you like? Do you support the new proposal from the Nelson Downtown Athletic Club or are in favour of keeping a theatre in the Heritage City? Feel free to express your comments below.