The City of Selkirk is launching the follow-up to its most successful survey ever and has just one request for participants – keep the good ideas coming.
A second public survey to get your views about the future of the historic Garry Theatre, which the city purchased in 2021, is now open through September 11, and the city wants to hear from you.
Overwhelming positive responses the first time
“More than 1,100 people took our first survey on the Garry Theatre and that response really blew us away,” says Ellie Longbottom, the city’s Culture Coordinator.
“The responses were overwhelmingly positive and it showed what we suspected was true, that the Garry is an important piece of the history and culture of the City of Selkirk and people want to see it continue as a community space.”
The public’s input into the first survey – which took place in November and December of last year – helped shape the city’s recently completed draft business plan.
Jeff Palmer, a community planner with Urban Systems, part of the team responsible for developing the Garry’s business plan, says he’s excited to learn more about Selkirk’s desires for the theatre in this second installment, especially because people were so passionate in the first round.
“We really need to thank the people who took part in the first survey,” Palmer said.
“We want to acknowledge the overwhelming response and interest people have in the Garry and celebrate that fact. Having more than 1,000 people responding is remarkable.”
Besides the survey, the city along with Urban Systems engaged its citizens through an open house held during Holiday Alley and held multiple focus groups.
Respondents’ favourite second life for the Garry was to have it show movies, followed by live music, comedy nights and live theatre.
Business Plan based off of case studies of other community theatres across Canada
The draft business plan looks at the feasibility of these through case studies of community theatres across Canada, an industry review and market analysis.
Community theatres typically show second run movies – movies that have been showing for weeks or even months in larger centres – and to offer live entertainment they need to develop strong relationships with industry professionals and provide high quality facilities including good sound and lighting.
The City of Selkirk has made it clear from the onset that it would not operate the theatre and would turn to the community for input and leadership.
Selkirk CAO Duane Nicol said the second survey is a critical part of the feasibility study because citizens will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed business model and to share their thoughts on pricing, amenities, volunteering, donations, and government financial support.
Draft Business Plan shares the reality of the Garry’s future
“The draft business plan shares the reality of the Garry Theatre. First, it’s not feasible to run it as a first run theatre. That’s why it went out of business in the first place. But it does show that if there is significant community support – that is to say paying customers, active volunteers, and significant private donations and government investments – the Garry can have a future as a community-run, multi-purpose theatre and event location. Without that level of community support, this just won’t be possible,” Nicol said.
The draft business plan shows that while ownership and governance of community theatres varies, some are non-profit or charitable organizations and therefore able to receive financial support from federal, provincial and municipal governments, and if the theatre is a registered charity, provide tax receipts.
The draft business plan recommends five actions for the city to reopen the Garry:
- Apply for matching funding for capital renovations;
- Establish a committee of volunteers to incorporate the non-profit organization;
- Provide the non-profit organization with a long-term lease for $1 per year;
- Develop an operating grant or secondment position for the General Manager, and;
- Commit to hosting as many community events at the Theatre as possible.
Share opinions on cost, donations, bookings and amenities
The survey will provide an opportunity for your input on the draft business plan for the Garry, including opinions on costs, willingness to support through attendance, membership, volunteering, event bookings, donations or taxes and what other amenities you would like to see available during shows or performances at the theatre.
You can have your say today online and paper copies are available at the Civic Office, Monday to Friday 10am-4pm.