The face of the Greater Trail’s arts scene could be changing.
A new business plan is in the works to chart the future and the direction of the Charles Bailey Theatre, determining how the under-utilized facility could better serve the people of the area.
The bottom line for the plan—due out in August—is putting bottoms in the seats of the 764-seat facility, said theatre manager Nadine Tremblay.
She said the facility was “totally under utilized” and that some similar sized communities have a theatre that is used almost every day of the week, while Charles Bailey is used around four times per month.
“So we want to get our numbers up and find out what people want and make it happen,” Tremblay said.
“Everything is going into this business plan that goes into a conventional business plan. We also want to … find out what kind of programming the community wants.”
The intent is to increase the number of acts coming into the community, said Mark Daines, Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) director of facilities and recreation, and have the theatre become more viable.
A business plan will give the RDKB a better idea of how to run the theatre for the community, and see what type of arts and cultural acts that can be brought into the city.
“We are trying to look into the crystal ball a little bit and find out what we can do to better the facility for the community,” he said.
Daines said an initial survey one year ago when he joined the RDKB showed the theatre in the Silver City had a lot of potential but it wasn’t being fulfilled.
It had around 35 bookings per year, while the Capitol Theatre in Nelson hosted over 150.
Although the market is different here—and other municipalities aggressively “sell” their theatres—the plan would determine how the RDKB could contract out agent services to help increase bookings.
“We would find out through the business plan if that is viable to do,” Daines said. “It seems to me that would be the missing link.”
But the facility will still be made available to the local population first, with acts from outside of the area filling in the rest of the bookings.
“Our challenge is we are off the beaten path … and the winter time has its own challenges,” Daines said.
“We have tried working (with Nelson) before … and maybe the business plan will determine those partnerships.”
A big part of the plan will be market research and devising a marketing plan for the theatre, said Tremblay.
“We are already an operating business so we know a lot of what it costs to open the doors.
“So what we want to know is whether there is a market out there and whether we can reach it and stay afloat,” she said.
Using a committee format made up of arts council members, the research will involve working with small businesses in Greater Trail, the tourism sector, municipalities, and the Trail and District Chamber of Commerce.
As well, researchers will be going to other theatres in region to study operations and management structures.
There will also be several forums and stakeholder meetings to collect information from those who are already renting the space, and the general arts community as a whole.
There will be online surveys, written surveys and patron surveys in the theatre to round out the plan.
“The success will ultimately be measured by the number of tickets sold,” said Tremblay.
Using a $6,500 enterprising, not-for-profit grant from ENP Canada, the theatre was able to attract matching funds from the City of Trail, the RDKB and the Trail and District Arts Council for a total of $13,000.
Three years ago a cultural plan—Greater Trail: a Cultural Plan for Arts and Heritage —was done to “promote the heritage theme with one regional voice.”
The 60-page marketing and feasibility study conducted by Lamont Management Inc. was done to attract visitors, new residents and investors in an effort to drive economic development and add to the cultural quality of life in all communities.
The theatre was one part of the plan, but the new plan focuses solely on the theatre.