Port McNeill artist Misty Smith

Port McNeill artist Misty Smith

Gate House Association gains charitable status

Port McNeill's Gate House Community Association gets a boost from charitable designation.

PORT McNEILL—In its more than a year-and-a-half of existence, Port McNeill’s Gate House Community Association has relied on volunteer help to put on movies and host music, art and theatre programs at the local theatre.

Now, the non-profit society is eligible for a little help.

The society was approved last week for Charitable Status by the Canadian Revenue Agency, opening up opportunities for funding that previously had been closed to the group.

“We’re now eligible to apply for grants, government programs, bursaries; all the dollars that are out there for the arts,” said Terry Ruth Eissfeldt, society director.

The local society was set up as a non-profit organization to promote the full spectrum of the arts — music, theatre, visual arts, youth instruction and more — prior to purchasing Port McNeill’s former Pioneer Theatre from local businessman Steve Jackman in 2011 to aid in that goal.

But Eissfeldt and a small core of volunteers has struggled to keep the theatre afloat with mixed response to movie and art offerings.

Now, said Eissfeldt, the society can apply for grants that will aid in its efforts. First on her wish list is a paid position for a theatre manager to oversee its operations.

“I’m a visionary, but I’m not good at all at day-to-day management,” said Eissfeldt, who previously owned Great Fish Productions and who has a background in theatre and musical theatre. “I’ve been doing everything I can do to keep this place open.”

Eissfeldt’s latest project has been right in her wheelhouse — directing and producing a self-authored play that will be shown here next month. The Coffee Clutch, which was originally presented in Port McNeill three years ago, will take the stage April 5-7 at 7 p.m. each evening with an almost entirely new cast.

Last weekend, the society hosted an art class at the theatre featuring local artist Misty Smith, who donated her time and supplies to instruct youngsters in introductory art techniques.

Kathy Martin, who has been the primary local liaison for the annual appearance of Missoula Children’s Theatre productions at the theatre, proved instrumental in securing charitable status for the Gate House Association, Eissfeldt said.

“Kathy was the one who took it and ran with it,” said Eissfelt. “And she did it from Nevada. We have all been working on it and it would have happened eventually. But Kathy gets the credit for making it happen now.”

For more information, including how to get involved as a society member or volunteer, visit gatehouseca.org.