On the Town: Glendale Arts works to keep Alex Theatre afloat during coronavirus pandemic

In happier times, Elissa Glickman, chief executive of Glendale Arts, takes over the mic during comedy night at Greyhound Bar & Grill in Glendale this past December.
(Ruth Sowby Rands)

The Alex Theatre is dark. All shows and performances have been canceled until further notice.

“We will jump back into productions and events the moment we are able,” said Elissa Glickman, chief executive of Glendale Arts, which manages the Alex.

Expenses continue to mount. Glickman has reduced her staff and employees’ hours. Many staff members are volunteering their time. All work remotely from home.

“The cancellation of events has created a financial burden for Glendale Arts, with a projected loss of $450,000,” according to Nina Crowe, Glendale Arts’ managing director.

Glickman and Crowe stay in close touch with supporters. In a recent email, Gickman wrote, “Please consider making a gift today, so that we can continue to protect the Alex Theatre and serve as a voice for hope, healing and wellness now and in recovery.”

Glickman outlined plans: Patrons who have purchased tickets for events that are now canceled will be contacted regarding new performance dates and refunds.

Glendale Arts’ events team is working with promoters to reschedule, rebook and reticket canceled events as well as manage future bookings.

The development/communications team continues to raise funds.

“The pandemic has rendered us unable to deliver programming at the Alex Theatre, which is 80% of our revenue,” Glickman said.

Glendale Arts has applied for assistance to the Small Business Administration’s emergency relief fund.

The organization has filed with the Employment Development Department for unemployment assistance to help fund the gap in wages lost while the staff is on reduced hours.

Glendale Arts has survived difficult times. Crowe said.

“In 2008, we weathered the Great Recession by bringing people together to lift their hopes and spirits,” she said. “This time, people aren’t allowed to gather. The very thing that could help us will actually hurt us.”

A new email to supporters announces, “The COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund,” which is a GoFundMe campaign that has been created to help artists of all disciplines.

One stipulation — the artist must live in Glendale and have been financially impacted by the coronavirus. Expenses can include rent, food utilities, art supplies and medical needs. The goal of the campaign is to raise $25,000 to support working artists.

For donations of $5,000 or more, contact Crowe at

An artist highlighted in the email is Richy Leis. He’s a 19-year veteran of the stand-up comedy community based in Glendale. Leis performs stand-up nearly every day as a headliner or emcee.

Comic Richy Leis finds his funny at the Ice House in Pasadena in support of Glendale Arts in April 2019.
Comic Richy Leis finds his funny at the Ice House in Pasadena in support of Glendale Arts in April 2019.
(Ruth Sowby Rands/Glendale News-Press)

He and his brother, Benjamin, own and operate Comic Cure, producing comedy shows to benefit local nonprofits, including Glendale Arts.

Richy Leis teaches comedy classes and, before the virus, booked live entertainment. He and his brother have worked with more than 200 nonprofits and more than 2,000 comedians over the past five years.

Since the outbreak, all of Richy Leis’ gigs and auditions have been canceled. The classes he teaches are now low-cost or free. However, he continues to entertain by hosting a nightly trivia game show over social media, teaching comedy classes online and offering a weekly email game called “The Los Angeles Feud.”

“The COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund could help me keep my lights on. Literally,” he said. “The funding will allow me to continue to work on my comedy and help my community. All the work I do is to keep people positive and hopeful. Thank you for helping me allow others some relief during this period of uncertainty. Together, we can get to the bright side of the tunnel.”

When Glickman is not running Glendale Arts, raising money for the Alex or establishing funds for artists, she still is helping through her culinary skills. She just made 20 jars of soup for friends unable to leave their homes. Her matzo ball soup went to Richy Leis.

For more information, including how to support Glendale Arts, visit

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