The future of the Charles Bailey Theatre looks bright, if feedback from a community survey is any indication.
Theatre front house manager Nadine Tremblay released results from a survey that asked Greater Trail residents, patrons, business owners and the general public what they’d like from the facility.
The 475 responses have now helped form a business plan that will recommend how the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) can efficiently run its theatre.
“I was sort of surprised to hear that some people didn’t even know what the Charles Bailey Theatre was and I was happy to receive the whole gambit of reactions from rants that explained every little thing about how bad the theatre is to how grateful and happy people are to have the theatre and its programming available to them,” said Tremblay.
Results show that 28 per cent of theatre-goers attend a show three to five times a year and 24 per cent make a point of going five times a year. Tremblay attributes this to the Trail Society of the Performing Arts’ performance series subscription of eight shows a year, which has over 350 annual members.
The community at large strongly supports the theatre, as indicated with 82 per cent of patrons thinking the theatre is “very important to the community” and 73 per cent of Greater Trail public feeling the same.
The theatre fell short when performers were asked about their experience. Most renters surveyed were somewhat satisfied, 50 per cent, with their last rental and half noted that the theatre is too expensive.
The 764-seat facility is rented out for $500 to non-profits and goes up to $1,000 from there, not including the cost of lighting and sound.
The price tag could change in future, according to Tremblay, who added that the three-year business plan centres around the theatre becoming a society or running under the umbrella of the Trail and District Arts Council but this change is pending approval from the RDKB.
“Most theatres operate under a not-for-profit status that enables them to apply for grants, which in turn highly subsidizes their operational costs and therefore reduces the cost of tickets and rental,” she said. “Other theatres also have fundraising initiatives, membership drives and marketing plans that help generate income overall and while this takes money and time, it also helps offset costs of running events for the community who uses the theatre.”
The survey found that 74 per cent of patrons are over the age of 46, with the majority of those 56-65 years old. Tremblay is not surprised by the demographics, which also mirrors the population of Trail.
“One can only predict that the attendance of theatre patrons will decrease over time but that threat also creates an opportunity to build and market to a younger audience of theatre-goers as well as maintain and keep happy the older audiences,” she added.
While most facility and service ratings were found to be good to excellent, common feedback recommended air conditioning, easier access to tickets, a larger lobby, more inspiring aesthetics, more programming and variety of shows.
There is already touch ups being done behind the scenes, including a new paint job for the theatre lobby and Muriel Griffiths room and upgraded stage lights.
The $13,000 plan kicked into the information gathering stage after a $6,500 Enterprising Not-for Profits grant was received and matching funds were secured from the City of Trail, the RDKB and the Trail and District Arts Council.
The survey and an open house was a chance to hear from the public before the committee, made up of members of the Trail and District Arts Council (which runs the box office) and the RDKB, formed a plan for the theatre’s future.
While the Charles Bailey is doing fine in principal, the plan is a way to attract more patrons and acts and really utilize the largest venue in the region to its full potential.
Tremblay, an artist herself, would like to see the facility booked solid, which is a ways from the four bookings it averages per month.
She can’t divulge much more until the business plan is finalized by Oct. 15 and first presented to the planning committee.
The survey says…
• 28 per cent patrons attend the theatre three to five times a year.• 82 per cent of patrons think the theatre is very important.• 73 per cent of Greater Trail public think the theatre is very important.• 69 per cent of patrons find out about events by reading the local newspaper.• majority prepared to pay $40 on average for a professional show, $20 for amateur show.• Expenditures on entertainment in the region averages to $50 per person.• 74 per cent of customers are over the age of 46, majority being between 56-65.• 50 per cent of theatre renters are somewhat satisfied with their last rental• 50 per cent of renters think the theatre is too expensive to rent• Five out of 19 local business are open during theatre events• Of those five (restaurants mostly), three see more than 20 plus theatre patrons on show nights