One year on, attendance is way up for theatre | The Gull Lake Advance
By Craig Baird
A huge corporation doesn’t own the Lyceum Theatre to milk the dollars out of your wallet. One person doesn’t own it intent on making a buck. The community owns it and it is one of the best theatres you can find in rural Saskatchewan, or Canada for that matter.
One year ago, the Lyceum Theatre officially went digital, and it has been nothing but good news for the community theatre since then.
“Attendance has increased and people are coming from places they never did before. People are making dates now. I have one couple from swift, and they look at the list and choose the days they want to come here to see a movie,” Belinda Yorke, manager of the Lyceum Theatre, said. “I never saw that before. Our supplies for everything have gone up, with the demand from everything it has really changed from when I started.”
Business has been so good that earlier this month the theatre broke its own attendance record.
“Last year’s re-open, just a normal day, nothing special, it was 171 and that was our highest attendance, and we fit 220,” Yorke said. “Just the other day, we played Grownups 2 and we beat it with 179.”
For Yorke, while a lot has to be done behind the scenes, the move to digital made some things a bit easier.
“We had reels before, two great big containers that you had to bring in. You would have to splice it together. There was a lot to splicing those movies,” Yorke said. “Now I just put the hard drive in, adjust it, get the key from the company over e-mail, put it in and unlock it.”
As for how the public likes it, the system has been receiving rave reviews this past year.
“People love the digital and the sound system. We have the highest sound system. They made the right investment. It is amazing,” Yorke said. “This building just shakes.”
Across Canada, the average price of a movie ticket is about $13. This cannot be blamed on inflation either, since the average price of a ticket was $1.55 in 1970 and adjusted for inflation would be only $8.71 today. Add in popcorn, drinks and tickets for a family of four and it is feasible they would spend upwards of $75 to see a movie.
At the Lyceum, a family of four can see a 3D movie, buy two super buckets and four pops for a grand total of only $40. All this is thanks to the fact that the theatre is owned by the community for the community.
“The basis of this is it is a not-for-profit. It is not owned by an individual person, it is the community who owns it. We have six volunteers on the board for the theatre. We have one employee, me, because there is a lot to do behind the scenes that people don’t see,” Yorke said. “The reasons the prices are so low are that they are not out to make money. They are making something for people to enjoy their evening. Everything has been taken into account. They are not out to make big bucks because they don’t need to. They just need a movie to play. “
Volunteers are a big part of the theatre experience at the Lyceum as well.
“This whole entire place is run by volunteers. Everything back here is volunteer. That is another reason the community speaks because we have so many volunteers who can sometimes come in at a moment’s notice to help out,” Yorke said. “They want to help.”
If this past year is any indication, the new digital equipment was a good investment that will keep this theatre, which has operated (apart from two fire breaks) for over 100 years, well into the future.