Council briefed on theatre operations

Galen Olstead, director of the Key City Theatre, gave council an update and overview of activities over the past year.

Key City Theatre managing director Galen Olstead.

Key City Theatre managing director Galen Olstead.

Things seem to be proceeding apace at the Key City Theatre.

Galen Olstead, managing director of the Key City Theatre, was at Monday’s city meeting to give council an update and overview of activities over the past year.

Olstead gave a brief snapshot of the workings of the Key City.

“We have three full-time staff — myself, a marketing director and a technical director,” Olstead said. “We bring in event crew as needed, so the sound operators and the stage hands.”

Olstead said they are then supported by one part-time box office associate and one contract bookkeeper.

“So it’s a pretty small staff,” he said. “Especially when we see the level of activity that is coming through the facility.”

Olstead said they are also supported by a volunteer core of 85 registered volunteers, who contributed the combined service hours of 3,835 in 2013.

The facility sees 171 total days booked.

“This past year was actually a somewhat slower year than past years, and looking ahead to next year, we’ll probably see about a 30 per cent increase on this activity,” he said. “The biggest portion is from not-for-profit community rentals from the local community.”

Then another 20 per cent of the usage is from the school district, 10 per cent is commercial rentals and seven per cent is taken up by the Key City Theatre’s own activity.

He said there is quite a range of revenues, from free events all the way up to a ceiling of around $40,000 for revenues from ticket sales.

“The revenues that we see get distributed back to artist fees, technicians, theatre staff, advertisers, promoters and the presenting organizations,” he said.

There were 61 total ticketed events in the past year, with 19,296 tickets sold. That generated $513,611.

He said in terms of geographic attendance, the largest portion is from Cranbrook itself, followed by Kimberley, and then the smaller communities in the East Kootenay.

Olstead said, when he was getting settled in the spring, since he was new to the area, he wanted to get an idea of the kind of impact the theatre has in the community.

He found there were a few main categories. The first was accessing big city arts and entertainment. The second was connecting to family and friends. The third was developing lifelong experience for youth. The fourth was civic pride.

The Key City Theatre is also having good success with its new twice a year magazine. He said with that, they are also planning expanded programming for next year, based on success they have been having in the past few years developing specific audiences.

“In this next year we’re going to be seeing some equipment upgrades and some facility upgrades,” he said. “We just received a $75,000 grant from Columbia Basin Trust, which will be hopefully paired with federal grant matching those funds to do some major equipment upgrades for the facility.”

Olstead said they are also in the process of putting together plans for the rebuild of the Key City Theatre itself.

Mayor Lee Pratt commented that the Key City Theatre’s new programs look very professionally done.

“I think when people see something like that, it would help in the ticket sales too,” Pratt said.

Coun. Danielle Cardozo thanked Olstead for the work he and the team have been doing.

“I think we have seen some amazing things since you’ve come onboard and you have a great team that you work with,” Cardozo said.

Coun. Tom Shypitka acknowledged the Key City Theatre’s importance to Cranbrook.

“It’s a huge part of our community lifestyle… and inspirational to the youth, it’s priceless almost,” Shypitka said.

“I don’t think I could really imagine Cranbrook not having a Key City Theatre.”

Coun. Norma Blissett said it is a jewel in the community.

“You can go in in the last minute and get a ticket and there is no bad seat in the house, and I appreciate that,” Blissett said. “Also the quality of shows that we’ve had are phenomenal. I’ve lived in larger centres, but to have access to the level of entertainment that you bring in is really wonderful to the community.”

Coun. Isaac Hockley also weighed in.

“We are the entertainment capital of the Kootenays, and it’s not because of the Western Financial Place, it’s because of the Key City Theatre,” Hockley said. “Obviously with help from the Western Financial place, but yeah, you guys are doing an amazing job. We’re excited to see where it is going.”

Coun. Wesly Graham was not in attendance.