Changes continue to put new face on iconic Trail venue

"The experiences, service, and memories that patrons of The Bailey Theatre enjoy, will come to define the brand.” ~ Nadine Tremblay

The face of the Greater Trail Arts scene is becoming popular near and far, so now it’s time for a makeover.

It all began three years ago when local artist, Nadine Tremblay, returned to the downtown Trail theatre after performing in venues across Western Canada.

What she saw was opportunity lost in the Charles Bailey Theatre.

The 764-seat auditorium was under utilized, similar sized communities were using their theatres almost daily, while the local space was used four times per month or less.

That changed in 2013, when Tremblay pitched the idea that the Trail and District Arts Council (TDAC) could shake things up in partnership with the theatre’s service provider, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB).

With a well defined business plan and marketing strategy in hand, Tremblay, then the RDKB’s theatre manager, set about filling up the seats by bringing local talent back to the stage as well as bigger out-of-town names.

Now closing in on Year Three, rentals are more competitive and the number of shows almost doubled – so now is the time for a brand re-design including a new marquee with a modern, yet retro, look.

“We’ve met and surpassed our goals and doubled audience participation,”says Tremblay. “This is the first time that energy has been spent on the identity and marketing of the theatre – now we have a logo and people can recognize us from the outside with a big lit up sign.”

The name has been shortened to ‘The Bailey’ to celebrate the venue, which she notes is surprisingly unfamiliar to many local residents.

“‘I’ll see you at the Bailey Theatre on Friday,’ has a nice cachet, and so do the new logo and sign design,” says Tremblay. “The logo is only the first step in establishing the brand. The experiences, service, and memories that patrons of The Bailey Theatre enjoy, will come to define the brand.”

Before landing the new moniker, TDAC and Scotty Carlson from Juicy Studios in Rossland, gave much consideration to the building’s art deco feel and the man behind the theatre’s name.

“Charles Bailey himself was an enthusiastic and generous patron of the arts, which we never want to forget,” Tremblay emphasized. “We hope that we are offering him the praise he deserves by marketing his name in a style he would have appreciated.”

With The Bailey marquee under construction, Tremblay can again turn her focus to other transformation plans aimed to improve audience experience and performer ease.

Run as a non-profit, the arts council is pursuing grants for bar and lounge renovations, theatre sound and lighting upgrades and theatre ventilation.

“As a way of directing flow, we would renovate the kitchen and have it more as a loungy space you can come to before and after the show,” she explained. “It really is an aesthetic reno, and ventilation is not being added to our existing system.

“We are trying to cool down the space in the days when we need it, instead of running air conditioning in here all the time.”

The business model remains a partnership with the regional district, but if all goes according to plan, TDAC will slowly take over theatre management by Year Four.

“Of course we have financial predictions but we also have social and cultural objectives,” she clarified. “The gist is to increase the participation and theatre usage, including attracting new users, increasing cultural and learning opportunities, diversifying programming and providing a social gathering place.”

By selling the venue potential, promoters are taking the leap and bringing in their big names, says Tremblay.

And the risk is paying off because over the last two years, shows such as Bryan Adams, Gordon Lightfoot, Theory of a Deadman and next week’s Jann Arden performance, have sold out.

“The theatre has been full of people I’ve never seen before,” Tremblay explained. “That tells me there is a market out there for genres of music, so we are working to get more of that.

“People are coming from all over, going to dinner and potentially staying at a hotel – they are willing to travel to come see their favourite band.”

Response from local groups has also been positive. By dropping rental rates by about $600 for professional and amateur artists, the number of shows grew from 19 in the 2012/2013 season to 29 last year.

Rossland Light Opera brought its Anne of Green Gables feature to very well attended shows last winter, J.L. Crowe’s February talent show had a full audience and the Miss Trail event in May is expecting the same.

“It’s a big job,” Tremblay said, mentioning when TDAC started, 90 per cent of renters said the rate was too high and 82 per cent reported dissatisfaction with their theatre experience.

“When we checked last year, 70 per cent were satisfied with their last rental and 75 per cent said the rate was just right.”