Traffic jams in downtown Trail are not always a bad thing, especially at dusk.
Some nights there’s no place to park in the city’s south end, restaurants are abuzz, passersby stop to window-shop, and there’s just this sense of happiness in the air.
More often that not, those are the evenings The Bailey stage is lit with some sort of entertainment. Whether it be music, comedy or drama, performed by local talent or an out-of-town attraction – the community theatre is full of people cheering on what is always a great show.
All this has come to fruition in the few years since the Trail and District Arts Council (TDAC) struck a deal with the regional district to take over managing and marketing of The Bailey Theatre.
“Tickets sales increased another 18 per cent this past season,” says Guest Services Manager Nadine Tremblay, who admits her small staff is run off their feet some days.
“We simply are constantly adjusting to the increase in work. Thank goodness I have such great staff and that the regional district is cooperative, because this constant state of change is hard work even though it’s equally exciting.”
Given TDAC’s undeniable success with energizing the city’s cultural scene, there’s more good news.
The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) recently inked a five-year contract with the arts council so it can continue managing the theatre – and there’s already another dynamic line-up in the works for the fall.
“Our new season is being launched as we speak,” said Tremblay.
“Next season is just awesome and features the best of professional Canadian performing artists.”
In 2013, the arts council presented the East End Services (local committee of the RDKB) with a proposal to take over management of the under-utilized theatre, located in the regionally-operated Greater Trail Community Centre.
This was planned for 2017, but TDAC was given a one-year extension to better meet their target of increasing the number of performances and tickets sales, thereby bumping up revenue.
Having now achieved that, the arts council is ready to take over management of The Bailey in June.
“They’ve taken great ownership of that facility and really done two things,” Trail Mayor Mike Martin says. “One is, as a society, they’ve been able to leverage additional funds for some of the upgrades, including air conditioning, and the new sound and lighting system.”
Secondly, TDAC has revived the theatre’s presence in the region.
“They have this great ability to attract all these different shows,” Martin said. “And now they’ll have even greater flexibility because they have a stake in the game.”
He was speaking as a city official and regional director, but moreso, as a theatre-goer.
“Any night there is a show at The Bailey there is a traffic jam downtown,” he said. “So it just tells you how many people are here enjoying what the city has to offer. You don’t have to drive to Kelowna or Spokane to go and enjoy some good shows.”
Martin mentioned another popular draw, the often sold-out Jazz at the Griff.
“That has just been spectacular, a very intimate and very enjoyable evening with some truly world-class musicians,” he chuckled. “But sometimes we’ve had trouble getting tickets.”
In addition to Bailey Theatre signage on the way and upgraded gear for sound and lighting, a new bar and lounge area will also be completed this summer.
“And TDAC can’t wait to reveal it to patrons in the fall,” said Tremblay.
It’s been a busy four years and a lot of work, but she says it’s all been worth it.
“We are hearing mostly good feedback from the community, local business and all those who benefit from having a thriving local community theatre,” Tremblay said. “We are still working out growing pains but, in general, people are patient and supportive. I don’t think things could get any busier for the Trail and District Arts Council at this point, with the theatre management takeover and all of our projects.”