Unlike other nonprofits that make requests to their communities for operational support, we are not looking to establish a donor base for annual giving in perpetuity, but rather just to help us in the interim. Once our renovation is complete, we expect to be in the position to be 100% self-funding for the foreseeable future. Your support now is an investment in that future.
As a friend of Nelson Civic Theatre Society, we know you already know our story well: it is one of a community coming together to bring The Civic Theatre back to life.
Now, after five years of film screenings, community programming, and capital planning, we are at a moment in time when we are finally able to move forward with our major capital fundraising campaign to build two more screening spaces within The Civic Theatre. You might ask why it has taken so long, as back when we re-opened in 2013 we had hoped to be further ahead by now. I hope you will take a moment to read this letter, learning a little more about our journey thus far and our path forward.
Back in 2013 we all shared a vision for this cultural media arts centre, knowing that it would take work to realize this vision. We learned along the way that we needed to build our reputation and our operations to make our case to funders. After five years our case is proven. Continuous film screenings, the ReelYouth Festival, Craft Brews of the Columbia Basin (CBCB) Film Competition, the Zombie Walk, Home for the Holidays, Films with Friends, and the growing Screen Based Industry Initiative have all grown from our collective vision and work.
In this time, we have received charitable status for Nelson Civic Theatre Society, completed a business plan to present and defend our three-screen development proposal, and undertaken substantial upgrades to our screen, sound, and projection equipment. We also secured community program funding from BC Arts Council, Creative BC, BC Gaming Branch, and the Federal Employment and Social Development Program. These government grants are stamps of approval, in that they are proclamations that our cinema is indeed a community organization, and much more than a movie theatre. Back in 2013, we believed in our vision; today these various funding bodies have shown that they do too.
Our capital renovation is on the horizon. We are in conversation with decision makers at the local, regional, provincial and federal levels to raise the grant money to upgrade our current space and add two more theatres in the back of our auditorium. This year we are looking to secure substantial government funding, and next year we will focus on approaching good prospects in the private sector, from corporations to foundations to individuals capable of making major gifts. Armed with our new business plan, we are ready to go.
In the meantime, we need your help.
Operating as a single screen at the whims of distributors who require multi-week runs of single films is a great struggle. We don’t get to decide to show a film for a week when it is new, or to stop showing it after the first week when it hasn’t appealed to audiences. Film distribution companies don’t favour single-screen venues, and in many cases, when a film is on our screen, we aren’t allowed to do anything else in our theatre. Despite the fact that our team has become very good at estimating income, managing the budget, and choosing films for this community, operations under this scenario continue to be volatile. When one or two films don’t garner expected audiences we can expect losses. So, despite careful spending, for the last three years we have run an operating deficit and we expect that reality to continue until we can add more spaces. We cannot run like this forever. In fact, we can’t operate like this for long.
We are looking to our donors, members, and community supporters to help us bridge the gap between our current financial reality and our future 3-screen model. We estimate that we will need to supplement our operations by $25,000 each year for the next three years of fundraising and building time. Unlike other nonprofits that make requests to their communities for operational support, we are not looking to establish a donor base for annual giving in perpetuity, but rather just to help us in the interim. Once our renovation is complete, we expect to be in the position to be 100% self-funding for the foreseeable future. Your support now is an investment in that future.
These are the ways that you can support our resilience, growth, and future as we embark on this exciting next step of our capital project development:
- Come to movies at The Civic Theatre! Bring your friends and family, buy popcorn, and enjoy the show. If all our members came to two movies a month, our financial gap would be closed.
- Start or renew your membership. The size of our membership is key to helping us make our case to funding prospects. Plus, it gives you $2 off every ticket and rewards you with free films and concession items. Our membership in our first year was an astounding 2,500 people – if we could entice that number of members again, our operating gap would disappear.
- Make a gift to Nelson Civic Theatre Society. Your tax-deductible donation of any size will help us to bridge the next year.
- Make a giving pledge for the next two years, securing our solvency until we complete our multi-venue upgrade. If everyone made a gift this year with a pledge for the coming two, it would eliminate our administrative cost of asking again next year and the year after that, and let us focus that time instead on raising capital funds.
If you would prefer to make your gift by phone, please call our office directly at 250.352.5833. You may need to leave a message, but we will get back to you as quickly as we can.
We are so grateful to the many people and businesses in our community who have supported Nelson Civic Theatre Society thus far. We hope that you, our patrons, members, and supporters, will join us to come together once again to sustain The Civic Theatre as we enter this next chapter in our development.
Eleanor Stacey, Executive Director, Nelson Civic Theatre Society/The Civic Theatre