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Perspectives On Programs, Percentages And Popcorn

Perspectives on programs, percentages and popcorn

A Bright Future for Nelson’s Cultural Media Arts Centre

Most non-profit arts groups in Canada raise 30-60% or more of their budgets each year. Relatively speaking, we are doing really well.

Last week the Nelson Star wrote about our Annual General Meeting pointing out that we ended up with a deficit a tad below $14,000. But it didn’t paint any dire scenario and, in fact, we were quite grateful for the coverage. With an average of 360 days of programming per year we have a lot of messages to relay to local audience and sometimes, when we are so focused on getting things done internally, it’s hard communicating to the public.

If the article pointed out anything it was that our business model is complex and it is critical that we get the right information out. When you’re not right inside the day-to-day operations of our theatre it is difficult to see what programming, operating and planning decisions have to be made and that’s common for many organizations. However, what we do is different from any other business in the region and that’s where communications become tricky.  We are not a commercial movie theatre. Instead, our goal is to offer mission-based charitable programs and services.

What we do is different from any other business in the region. We are not a commercial movie theatre. Instead, our goal is to offer mission-based charitable programs and services.

So while annual solvency is certainly desirable, turning a profit is not our first priority.  Showing diverse film content is as much a part of that mission as is offering activities like Home for the Holidays, Zombie Walk, or the ReelYouth Festival. In the community arena we see budding film festival programming, growth of our screen-based industry initiative, partnerships with other community groups on screenings and dialogue events, and celebration and education like Culture Days and the Rural Artists Support Weekend.

If we were a commercial movie theatre, we wouldn’t do all of these things or show risky independent fare, all of which cost us in staffing, marketing, and content expenses. Our multi-sided mission is what makes us unique and what positions NCTS to be an asset to our multi-faceted community and the wider region.

We are, in fact, a budding Cultural Media Arts Centre – an organization that provides diverse content, offers future-forward avenues for education and knowledge-sharing, and uses our space to amplify cultural, economic, and social organizations and movements in our region.  This has been our operating model since we reopened in 2013. However in those early days finances produced positive year-end balances because programming and staffing was still being developed and we had yet to position ourselves for a long-term fundraising campaign.  These budget areas cost us, but we cannot make our case for support without fulfilling our mandate, and we cannot raise the funds needed to add more theatres without staffing in place. Every piece builds the puzzle.

We cannot make our case for support without fulfilling our mandate, and we cannot raise the funds needed to add more theatres without staffing in place.

Yes there have been deficits for a few years, but they have been expected and in fact very small – 1.7% in 2017-18 without any operational fundraising. This is part of our story until we raise funds to build our 3-screen venue. However this year, to bridge this development gap, we have decided to raise operation funds and are requesting support from community members. Even with this fundraising drive underway, our current budget is only seeking support for 3% of our budget this year.  As a comparison, most non-profit arts groups in Canada raise 30-60% or more of their budgets each year. Relatively speaking, we are doing really well.

A summary of our three year business plan, including our capital campaign goals, are all available here. But if you have questions about what we are doing, please ask us. Our staff and volunteer board members have been working towards exciting outcomes for our community for the last six years, and all are keenly aware of the challenges and opportunities that this project presents.

If you have questions about what we are doing, please ask us.

In fact, financials only tell a part of the picture since 2017-18 has been our best year yet.  Our venue, staffing, programming, and operational efficiencies have continued to improve from year to year. We have never been so ready to move forward with a big project, and with so many people working together towards a common goal, our future looks bright.

Until then, enjoy your popcorn, and we’ll see you at The Civic.