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Nelson Civic Theatre, 1936 (photo courtesy Touchstones Nelson)
Nelson Civic Theatre, 1936 (photo courtesy Touchstones Nelson)

Civic Theatre’s Historic Timeline

Compiled by Shawn Lamb, Roger Ley

Pre-1930: Movies and live presentations shown at the Nelson Opera House (1898 – 1935), and the Gem, Starland, Emire, and Capitol theatres.

1930: Mayor Barnes authorized by City Council to collect data for a new civic theatre/auditorium for Nelson. The site identified was the 800 block of Vernon Street, north side (former site of the Nelson Fair building).

December 1930: By-law for a $150,000 building to include library, market, city offices and auditorium was introduced and soundly defeated on Dec 24, 1930.

May 1934: Editorial in Nelson Daily News calls for City Council to bring a sound auditorium proposal to the public this year.

January 1935: Conceptual plans for a multifaceted complex presented, including skating and curling rinks and dressing rooms, auditorium, recreation/meeting hall with gallery, meeting rooms and offices.

March, 1935: Alderman Tom Waters heads committee to draw up arrangements for a new Nelson auditorium by-law. Architects McCarter & Nairne begin to work up plans for the new building. Managing committee of of 10 local community leaders formed to lead campaign for new centre.

April 3, 1935: By-law passes for Civic Centre. Construction begins on skating/curling section, then proceeds to auditorium/recreation hall section.

April 25, 1936: Formal opening of the new auditorium; 954 seats.

July 3, 1936: Civic Centre Commission approached by businessmen interested in leasing the auditorium for movies. Unanimous decision: “no”.

1937: Revenue for Civic Theatre for April – November 1937 was just $900. 10-year lease for a movie theatre was reconsidered, and the lessors signed a 10-year lease with a clause providing for continuous operation of the auditorium as a picture show with the possibility of a further 10 years, on a sliding scale of costs. The lease provided that community organizations could use the auditorium by arrangement with the lessors under a set scale of rates. Lessors included Messrs Winters and Butler, Beatty and Johnson’s Kootenay Amusement Company (later Civic Theatres Ltd).

1938: Famous Players took over the lease and operated the theatre until the 1970s, after which a number of private operators leased the Civic Theatre until recently.

…..

2011: The Theatre sits in limbo.

March 2013: Stephen Collins puts out a call to save our theatre.

April 2: Cindy Sherry calls a meeting to save the theatre. City Council extends deadline for proposals to May 31.

April 5 2012: Over 60 people attend the meeting. Plans are set afoot.

May 27 2012: We have collected over 4200 signatures to save our theatre!

May 31 2012: NCTS submits our initial proposal to City Council

June 15, 2012: NCTS presents an initial proposal and is granted 4 months to complete a feasibility study and business plan by Council

June 20, 2012: NCTS is officially born. A non-profit Social Enterprise!  Our Board of Directors are elected

Aug 16, 2012: Our online membership form  is born. 315 existing members. We first announce the possibilities of a community run digital theatre.

Sept 7 2012: 625 Members!

Sept. 10 2012: NCTS has over 800 members!

Sep 18, 2012: NCTS hosts a free movie at the Capitol Theatre to raise awareness and signup more members.

Sept. 20 2012: Save On Foods backs our project and invites customers to become members.

Sept. 30, 2012: NCTS reaches 1000 Members!

Oct. 22 2012: NCTS presents it’s proposal to City Council

Nov. 5 2012: NCTS receives unanimous support from City Council and is handed the keys

Nov-Dec 2012: Much work is done cleaning and clearing.

Dec 15 2012: Volunteer clean up crew scrub the theatre from top to bottom.

Jan 7 2012: Our first staff job postings! Looking for 2 project managers. Sue Adam and Roger Ley hired

Jan. 27 2013: NCTS hosts an open house to invite public to view our challenge and present our plan.

Jan 29 2013: NCTS begins push for a new digital projector.

Feb 1 2013: NCTS receives coverage in the National Post for our efforts saving our theatre.

Feb. 20 2013: The Civic Theatre RE-OPENS! James Bond’s Skyfall on the cleaned up 35mm projector to a sold out, costumed audience.

Feb. 28 2013: NCTS receives a $60,000 gift from a local community member to kick off our Community Challenge

Mar. 11 2013: Save On Foods steps up support for our Community Challenge

Mar. 19 2013: NCTS begins selling advanced online tickets for movie nights.

Mar. 21 2013: We host our second movie weekend – spaghetti westerns, Django Unchained

April 11 2013: NCTS announces it’s Civic Ambassador program.

April 24 2013: NCTS and the City of Nelson announce online Donations are now available and qualify for Charitable tax receipts.

May 1 2013: Our community completes and surpasses the Community Challenge raising $181,425.00 in 2 months.

May 25 2013: My American Cousin, our final 35mm film, and our old projector goes dark

Jun 6 2013: Our first delivery of the new digital system starts arriving.

Jun 7 2013: Leading up to our first digital movie, our friends at the Capitol Theatre announce 10% off costume rentals for all Civic Theatre events.

Jun 13 2013: Our new Digital Projector and 7.1 surround system gets a test drive, just days before our grand re-opening!

Jun 14 2013: The Civic Theatre re-opens: digital picture, 7.1 surround sound. Star Trek Into Darkness kicking off a summer of regular weekly blockbusters. The Civic hires its first concession staff, ticket staff, and cleaning crew!

Jun 20 2013: The Civic Theatre begins regular Thursday night indie-films

Jun. 28, 2013: NCTS begins handing out membership cards to it’s 2200 members at Marketfest

July 17 2013: The Civic Theatre opens its doors to the first fundraiser for a local society.

July 22 2013: Global TV broadcasts a story of our successful fundraising drive.

July 25 2013: The Civic Theatre hosts our first private rental, live event on our stage. Weekly movies continue.

September 22 2013: NCTS hosts our first Annual General Meeting297 members attend, breaking world records (we think)

Oct. 8 2013: To help with overwhelming demand for the theatre (and more work than we could have imagined!) we announce plans to hire a new assistant manager.

Oct 31 2013: The Civic Theatre hosts its first (annual?) Rocky Horror Picture Show. Many costumes witnessed. Many strange images irrevocably burned in to brains.

Nov. 6 2012: NCTS releases a Request For Proposal to hire an architectural team to design the three-screen future of our theatre.

 

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