Greater Trail’s creative community is even willing to use reverse psychology if it means more people will support the Charles Bailey Theatre.
“Don’t come here, it sucks. There’s nothing creative going on,” laughed Nadine Tremblay, theatre front-house manager.
Tremblay is reviewing feedback from a community consultation held Thursday night, where about 20 people were asked to dream big on the future of the 764-seat facility.
Conversation swayed to a little “ridiculous” at times, with over-the-top suggestions like the use of reverse psychology to attract new patrons and the construction of a roof-top patio to keep them coming.
But bright marketing ideas like focusing on partnerships with local businesses or encouraging kids to bring their parents out for a show to gain free entry were noted.
This is just one of the ways Tremblay is collecting feedback from residents for a business plan that will recommend how the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) can efficiently run its theatre.
Participants in the community consultation split up into groups and discussed potential programming and events (a storytelling festival, children’s programming and inter-disciplinary shows to name a few), and ways to maximize the venue and get more patrons in seats.
Twenty-seven-year-old Carolyn Ferraro came out to add her voice to the discussion. With a diploma in makeup design for film and television and another in acting for film and television, the Trail native is looking to find her place in the local arts community, a foundation to a strong economy as she sees it.
“If you have a lot of people experiencing arts, you have a necessary reason to go out for dinner, which keeps all of the local restaurants in business and helps promote a healthy safe area for the downtown core, which is really sad right now,” she said. “You can clean up the downtown core as much as you like but if you don’t have things to do downtown, there’s nothing you can do about it.”
After living in Vancouver for a few years and recently returning home, Ferraro is surprised that most of the small-scale shows are being performed in halls or church basements. But with a quick look at the cost of renting the theatre, she can see why that has been the preference.
“I think a lot of the problem is in order to have a show hosted at the Charles Bailey you have to have a guarantee sell out or you don’t break even,” she said. “For me, it would be really difficult because any of the projects that I want to be doing aren’t big in scale.”
Ferraro wasn’t the only one to voice concerns over cost, said Tremblay, adding that the theatre rental starts at $500 for non-profits and goes up to $1,000 from there, not including the cost of lighting and sound.
“The (community consultation) wasn’t meant to be a night of complaining but there is definitely a little frustration from renters about the cost of the venue,” said Tremblay. “I quickly addressed that and explained that the survey is really your opportunity to be very specific.”
Lisa Milne, owner of the Royal Theatre in Trail, knows all too well the difficulty in filling a theatre to ensure money invested in a show is made back. Her and her husband have taken risks, brought on interesting shows special to the Trail theatre or big box-office movies, and when there wasn’t enough interest had to foot the bill.
She doesn’t see why both theatres can’t attract a full house the same night and would li ke to see a “punch pass for culture” created as a way to get locals taking in some culture all while supporting local business.
Milne would also like to see more of a vocal involvement from the RDKB. She said the room fell silent Thursday night when Tremblay asked if there was a representative present from the regional district.
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.
Residents have until June 16 to provide feedback through the survey (available online at www.trail-arts.com or at the theatre box office), before Tremblay and a committee will review their findings along with feedback from the open house.