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Alex Theatre reports budget surplus

But the surplus depends on a management fee that is paid by the city.

November 07, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • Pedestrians walk past the Alex Theatre on Tuesday, July 10, 2012.
Pedestrians walk past the Alex Theatre on Tuesday, July… (Roger Wilson / Staff…)

The historic Alex Theatre ended last fiscal year with a record surplus of $181,748, a jump of roughly 24% from the prior year. The theater’s fiscal year closed on June 30.

“This past fiscal year brought record profits for the organization and a bevy of new programming both at the Alex and in the community,” wrote Harry Hull, chair of the Glendale Arts Board of Directors, and Elissa Glickman, the theater’s chief executive, in a letter presented to the City Council on Tuesday.

The historic landmark closed out the fiscal year just a day before beginning a $5.3 million expansion project that will add dressing rooms, a freight elevator, a loading dock and other improvements.

The project is on time and on budget, with the theater set to reopen for its holiday season next week and then close again in mid-December until the end of January, theater officials said.

The city has invested more than $10 million in former redevelopment funds, which come from property taxes boosted by development in once-blighted areas, into the theater since 1992. That cash source is no longer available, as state lawmakers dissolved redevelopment agencies and their programs in 2012.

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The Alex Theatre also gets a $415,000 annual management fee from the former redevelopment funds through 2015. The upcoming loss of that subsidy has made it more urgent to get the construction project under way.

Without the management fee, Glendale Arts, the nonprofit that operates the theater, would have ended the 2012-2013 fiscal year $296,422 in the red, according to a financial report that came with the letter. That’s less of a deficit — about $38,000 less — than it would have had in the previous fiscal year.

Despite the record year, Glendale Arts officials said inherent challenges still lie ahead.

The biggest challenge will be overcoming the $415,000 shortfall when the annual management fee is discontinued, but Hull and Glickman said in their letter that they feel confident they “will emerge from the construction and closure a stronger organization.”

Glendale Arts plans to conduct a feasibility study to identify the organization’s strengths and weaknesses.

As part of the dissolution of redevelopment, the venue is at risk of being sold by state lawmakers to bring more money to Sacramento’s coffers.

Glendale officials have taken several steps to try to protect the theater, such as changing its zoning to block the building’s use as a church, bowling alley or other type of undesired business use. They’ve also tried to convince state officials that the venue is a community resource that shouldn’t be put on the auction block.

It may be several months before the state Department of Finance makes a decision about selling the property.

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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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