Business plan paints vision for Charles Bailey Theatre

The new business plan recommends the RDKB hand over theatre operations to the Trail and District Arts Council.

What started as an exercise to get more people in seats at the Charles Bailey Theatre has led to a potential change in management and a plan for a non-profit organization to go after grant funding.

The Charles Bailey Theatre Business Plan recommends the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) hand over theatre operations to the Trail and District Arts Council (TDAC) over the course of three years.

“The RDKB owns and operates so many buildings and are busy with essential services like our waste and sewage,” explained theatre front house manager, Nadine Tremblay. “I fee like the arts council has the experience and insight to create an artistic vision for the region.”

Under management of a non-profit society, the venue could then be eligible for additional grants and donations and could alleviate future rental costs.

This would be a crucial change needed in order to roll out the planning group’s top priority of lowering rental fees that currently start at $500 for non-profits and go up to $1,000 from there, not including the cost of lighting and sound, according to Tremblay.

“It is imperative that RDKB lower the cost of rental and, in particular, to help small local groups set themselves up for success,” she noted.

“The current rental cost of The Charles Bailey Theatre is 40 per cent higher than that of similar sized venues in B.C., making it difficult for some community groups to break even.”

The recently released plan proposes the immediate hiring of a part-time employee to implement a comprehensive marketing and sales strategy, as well as help TDAC organize small series programming.

This includes a children’s series, some workshop opportunities and a series that is temporarily named “Something Completely Different,” all of which will take place in the Muriel Griffiths Room as part of its transformation into a small performance space.

“A smaller series is less risky and allows for audience development,” said Tremblay. “It allows the arts council to test the waters because surveys demonstrated that patrons want to see more country music, children’s shows and comedians,” she continued. “But will they come out for it?”

By year two, the responsibility for bookings and venue rental contracts should be handed over to the TDAC, the plan recommends, and a proposed series of capital improvements for the 764-seat facility and building would be undertaken. This includes purchasing a ticketing system, building a marquee and a permanent concession as well as acquiring the theatre’s own basic sound and lighting equipment.

The final transition, in year three, would see front-house management transferred over to the TDAC, ultimately handing over responsibility under an agreement with the regional district.

The vision of the 10-month project written and presented by Tremblay with help from committee members Ray Masleck, Betty Seinen, Judy Wray and Mark Daines is to increase artistic programming and in turn create a more vibrant downtown gathering place for learning and entertainment.

“It’s easy to get excited about the prospect of a flourishing, busy and beautiful theatre,” said Tremblay. “I think we are on the right track towards doing it right and doing it properly from the get go.”

The $13,000 plan kicked into the information gathering stage after a $6,500 Enterprising Not-for- profit grant was received and matching funds were secured from the City of Trail, the RDKB, electoral areas A and B and the Trail and District Arts Council.

A surveyval and an open house were a few ways public feedback from the community was gathered by the committee.

A basic overview of the 129 page document, which includes four years of financial projections, was presented to the RDKB in early December and approval of the plan is pending until decisions are released in the spring when budgets are set.