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Alex Theatre's future is in question

Iconic venue's city subsidy was spent about three months before end of fiscal year.

June 08, 2012|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • Visitors tour the Alex Theater in Glendale. The venue had a challenging fiscal year.
Visitors tour the Alex Theater in Glendale. The venue… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

Officials at the Alex Theatre are reevaluating their long-term strategic plan for the historic venue, which has been relying heavily on its reserves as it copes with an uncertain future.

The theater was shuttered for three months at the beginning of the year due to renovation work, severely impacting hurting revenues for Glendale Arts, the nonprofit that manages the venue.

“In short, the third quarter of the fiscal year was challenging,” according to a letter to the City Council this week from James Wilke, chairman of the Glendale Arts Board of Directors, and Interim Chief Executive Elissa Glickman.

They went on to note that the financial challenges have prompted officials to review long-term plans and income streams.

Glendale Arts spent all of a $415,000 annual city subsidy by the end of March, about three months before the end of the fiscal year. At the same time last year, the organization retained $74,000 of the so-called management fee, which the city will cease paying in 2015.

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The theater also reported just $5,747 left in its programming reserve account at the end of March, a 93% drop compared to the same period last year. Glendale Arts plans to replenish the fund going forward, according to a city report.

The theater's total cash accounts, about $237,000, were also down 41% compared to last year.

The money woes come as the future of the theater remains murky. Last year, the City Council transferred the downtown venue from the redevelopment agency to the city's books to protect it from a state grab, but officials don't know if the preventive measure will stick.

Now the Alex is at risk of being snatched up by the state, which axed local redevelopment agencies and assumed many of their assets. Glendale had depended on redevelopment revenue to pay for Glendale Arts' management fee to operate the theater.

Glickman and Glendale Arts board member Pam Elyea have lobbied Sacramento lawmakers in an effort to keep the theater, in addition to launching a fundraising and marketing campaign to boost awareness of the theater's plight.

Glendale Arts has also begun working on new revenue streams, such as a new community box office and securing permits for beer and wine sales. It received a city permit to sell alcohol, but is still awaiting state approval.

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