Trail likes country music, comedy and children programming, according to feedback from a survey in circulation that looks at the future of the Charles Bailey Theatre.
Theatre front-house manager Nadine Tremblay is in the midst of collecting information from Greater Trail residents, patrons, business owners and the general public before moving forward with a business plan for the 764-seat facility in Trail.
The plan will recommend how the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) can efficiently run its theatre, with an ultimate goal of increasing the number of acts and patrons.
“The theatre is totally fine, in principle it’s a business that’s up and running,” said Tremblay. “But even just going to Nelson, a community really close by, they use their theatre six days a week almost all year so right there I think, ‘Why aren’t we doing that? Why are we only open four times a month?’
Though the survey was just released Thursday, Tremblay said over 100 have been filled out.
The questionnaire that collects information from recipients as well as ideas, can be found online at the Trail and District Arts Council website (www.trail-arts.com) or at the theatre box office (Monday through Friday from noon-4 p.m.).
Volunteers are also handing the survey out, with initial efforts done at Ferraro Foods this past weekend and another round at Waneta Plaza this Saturday. This is in addition to a community consultation scheduled for the end of the month.
Tremblay, an artist herself, has also toured theatres across the province to learn what other places are doing to attract customers and performers. Beyond making a theatre aesthetically pleasing and a place that inspires artists, she has already collected a number of her own ideas for the facility that she calls “under utilized.”
The Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre has a separate entity within the theatre that acts like an in-house promoter, seeking out shows that would suit the community, she said.
“They choose the artist, they hire that artist and they take the big risk at the end of the day,” she added, noting that the Charles Bailey doesn’t necessarily have its own promoter.
It works with promoters — the Trail Society of the Performing Arts being its most consistent customer.
The theatre is owned by the regional district and managed by Mark Daines, regional district director of facilities and recreation, who is also responsible for several other buildings in the district.
“Not a lot of theatres are run by politicians,” she said. “They’re often city owned or the regional district owns the building but they’re usually run by a separate society of artistic personnel.”
The way tickets are processed could also be updated to reach a wider audience, she added.
“We have a really primitive system and it works well,” she said. “The Trail Arts Council are the ones who run the box office and they do a really good job but it’s small and I think a ticketing system would be a huge improvement to the theatre (automated with online sales).”
Among areas for improvement, Tremblay said even marketing what the building already has to offer could attract new business. She sees a real value in the Muriel Griffiths room, which aside from piano recitals is rarely used.
“Sometimes people don’t want to rent the Charles Bailey because it’s a 700-seat venue and that’s daunting,” she said. “But why not put on workshops, smaller shows and more intimate performances in the Muriel Griffiths room, which fits 80-100 people.”
The survey is described as a chance for residents to “complain” while the upcoming community consultation from 7-9 p.m. on May 30 in the Muriel Griffiths room is an opportunity to take part in a “future-focused, dreaming session.”
The $13,000 plan kicked into the information gathering phase 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.
After the survey is closed June 16, Tremblay will compile the findings. 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.
Recommendations will be crafted for the business plan that is set for completion by September.