Charles Bailey business plan moves ahead for Columbia Basin Trust

Reduced costs for local groups, marketing manager to be hired

A three-year grant in funding is taking centre stage in a plan to get more people in the seats of the Charles Bailey Theatre (CBT).

In a bid to increase usage of the 731-seat facility, the Trail and District Arts Council presented a business plan to the East End Services (EES) last year, proposing the regional service hand over theatre operations to the non-profit over the course of three years.

The regional district has jumped on board with the idea and recently granted the arts council $18,500 annually for three years to hire a marketing and public relations officer for the Charles Bailey Theatre.

“This is a great opportunity to promote the Charles Bailey Theatre to agencies and promoters in North America,” said Mark Daines, regional manager of facilities and recreation.

“And increase the number of A-list performances in the theatre.”

Additionally, the EES (participants) from Rossland, Warfield, Trail, Montrose, Fruitvale, Area A and Area B, agreed to waive sound and lighting fees for local groups, with a goal to bring community talent back into the theatre.

That news is music to the ears of a local dance instructor with a long history of renting out the Charles Bailey Theatre.

“The cost of the lighting and sound at the CBT has been a huge reason why groups don’t rent the theatre,” said Rhonda Michallik of Steps Dance Centre.

“The actual rental cost has always been quite reasonable but the light and sound fees were insane and we had no choice regarding use of our own equipment or sound technician.”

Michallik’s dancers are travelling to the Capitol Theatre in Nelson next week for a spring performance, which is a cost-saving trip for the downtown Trail dance centre.

“My entire contract is less than just my lighting and sound fee at the Charles Bailey Theatre,” she said.

Rental fees currently start at $500 for non-profits and reach as high as $1,000 not including sound and lighting costs in the CBT.

Those charges vary depending on the performance needs, according to Daines.

However, the sound fees start at $190 for the first four hours of the rehearsal and show and $40 per hour for additional service; and lighting fees are $170 for the first four hours then $35 per hour after that.

With those fees waived, local dance troupes would be more inclined to put on performances, said Michallik.

“And encourage many of my friends who run dance companies to come to Trail on their tours.”

The 77-year-old theatre needed some TLC and a refreshed vision to reinstate itself as a cornerstone of local community theatre and as a venue for imported performances after all bookings took a nose dive over the past few years.

Last year, the theatre was rented out for a mere 20 performances, which was down from 30 bookings in 2012, according to Daines.

And things aren’t looking much brighter this performance season because bookings at the theatre are on par with last season.

If management is passed to the non-profit arts council, the venue could become eligible for additional grants and donations and could alleviate future rental costs.

The BC Creative Spaces program awarded 41 grants to help arts and cultural organizations in communities across the province, the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development announced Wednesday.

More than $800,000 was awarded for projects to improve local art infrastructure, including the development of new spaces, improving existing facilities, and to purchase or upgrade specialized theatre equipment.