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Alex revamp causes revenue slump

City officials expect downtown development to aid historic venue's bottom line.

December 20, 2011|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • The Alex Theatre has the ceiling painted to look like the sky in Glendale on Saturday, November 28, 2009. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
The Alex Theatre has the ceiling painted to look like the…

Renovations at the Alex Theatre severely impacted attendance and income during the first fiscal quarter of the year, forcing the venue to drawn on reserves to cover operating expenses, officials reported Tuesday.

The theater reported a quarterly operating loss of $201,279, compared to a loss of $117,512 for the same period last year. Officials expected the slump because the theater was closed for most of the first quarter for façade renovations. But they said new downtown developments should ensure a steady stream of patrons in the coming years.

Total attendance for the quarter was 3,845 compared to 14,915 last year, when the theater had four times as many days of activities.

During the slump, Glendale Arts, the nonprofit group that runs the theater, had to draw from two reserve accounts required by a contract with the Redevelopment Agency that lays out the terms of a $415,000-annual subsidy, or management fee, according to the financial report.

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Despite the draw-downs, officials reported that the reserve funds still have healthy balances that total $167,402, and are expected to grow as more theater fees kick in.

Councilman Dave Weaver said once several new downtown housing developments approved recently by the City Council are built, more people likely will be patronizing the historic venue.

“They’re going to go,” Weaver said. “It’s going to happen.”

Barry McComb — who is leaving Glendale Arts Jan. 31 to become cultural affairs director for Thousand Oaks — agreed, adding that despite lackluster numbers from the first quarter, new revenue streams will soften the deficit.

In the first quarter, Glendale Arts entered into a contract to sell tickets for Glendale Community College shows. The group also will establish a ticket outlet at the college, according to the report.

A community box office, which provides ticketing services to other performance venues, community organizations and nonprofits, also launched in September.

The revenue streams are expected to help the theater reach self-sufficiency as Redevelopment Agency aid is set to end in 2015, when the central city redevelopment zone expires.

According to the report, rental activities in October shot up, prompting net rental revenues to increase by about 43% over the previous year.

“We’ve come right back to where we wanted to find ourselves.” McComb said.
 
 

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