Trail Society for the Performing Arts was founded in 1947 and is the longest-running performing arts series in British Columbia. (Image

After 71 years in Trail, arts society folds

The final Tuesday night performance brought to the city by Performing Arts Trail will be April 2

Changing times, changing interests, maybe even changing tastes, have ended a society whose sole mission – since 1947 – was to bring arts and culture to the Trail stage.

Related story here: Trail arts series kicks off 71st season

Trail Society for the Performing Arts (TSPA) has been struggling for a few seasons, especially with the volunteer board running perpetually short-handed.

Now, after 71 years, the official vote to dissolve the society came down Thursday night (Dec. 13).

“The demographic that supports this series is an older one,” Director Theshini Naicker told the Trail Times. “This demographic is getting smaller. It is not easy to get the support from younger generations,” she said.

“Volunteer burnout is real, and it is getting more difficult to recruit volunteers with the necessary skills to run these organizations.”

For decades TSPA, which was re-branded Performing Arts Trail a few years ago, has brought a variety of talent and showcases, both national and international, to the Bailey Theatre on Tuesday nights.

Finding people dedicated to giving their time and slowing ticket sales finally presented challenges that could no longer be overcome. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

The society was in crisis mode back in 2016, and that year, went through an organizational re-shuffle.

Then a strategic planning session this past February helped to keep the group afloat with some key board positions filled at that time.

However, at the follow-up meeting last month, society directors realized that it was no longer sustainable for the current board to continue operating. Calls for members to join the board went unanswered, and the final straw was the resignation of the treasurer. So in November, the rest of the board announced it would step down in 2019.

“I don’t believe this situation is peculiar to our society,” Naicker said. “As with everything in life, the inevitable process of change and evolution is a very real one. So, maybe it is time for a change.”

The current season will not be affected. Four shows remain between now and the final act on Tuesday, April 2.

Fortunately, the Trail and District Arts Council has expressed interest in taking over the programming.

“Which seems a natural fit,” Naicker said. “But there is also the reality of a diminishing membership. So exploring options with different times (or days) might work, but it would be up to the arts council.”

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