Today’s Poll

Capitol and Civic aim for collaboration, not competition

Bill Metcalfe
By Bill Metcalfe
May 23rd, 2014

Can the Capitol Theatre and the Civic Theatre co-exist without stepping onto each other’s turf?

This question becomes more relevant with the continuing success and growth of the Civic and its recent staging of live shows, and Capitol’s recent purchase of a projector.

One of the people at the centre of the Civic’s growth, former project manager Roger Ley, just happens to sit on the Capitol Theatre board. So he’s in a good position to comment on the relationship between the two theatres.

Planned in advance vs. on the fly

“The two organizations are quite different,” Ley says.  “At the Capitol, we start our season in September and we have been planning that for the past year. The Capitol looks a year down the road. But at the Civic, because of the way the movie industry works, we are lucky if we can look two weeks down the road.

“So at the Capitol we are fairly solidly booked and if a local group wants to put on a show, very often the dates they want are not available. Because the Civic is forced to be on the fly, you can sometimes find available dates.”

Becoming each other’s overflow

But there is still potential overlap, so recently the two groups sat down and developed an interesting agreement.

“If a call comes to the Civic saying they want to do a live show,” Ley says, “we first say ‘have you checked with the Capitol?’ And if a call comes to the Capitol asking about putting on something film-based, they are asked to check with the Civic first.

“That way, we become each other’s overflow.”

An upcoming joint project

Starting in September, the Civic and the Capitol will test out their potential for collaboration with a package of ten screenings of international theatre, opera and dance, five in each venue, jointly marketed. The series will run over the ensuing ten months.

“The main thing is that we know each other and we are in conversation,” says Capitol Theatre executive director Stephanie Fischer.  “Of course there is some overlap but there are people who love to go to the movies who never come and see anything live. Maybe going to a movie will entice people to go to live theatre. The more audience we can build for arts and culture the better.”

“If we work together,” says Ley, “then we will all get a bigger piece of the pie because we can build a bigger pie.”

The city has a stake

The question of potential competition between the two theatres was raised on May 20 at a Nelson City Council meeting, during an presentation by the Civic Theatre Society, whose presenters assured council of the plans to collaborate.

The city has a stake in the success of both organizations because it provides some annual funding to the Capitol and owns the building in which the Civic operates.

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