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City, Alex have 10-year relationship

Karen S. Kim

DOWNTOWN -- It’s been almost 10 years since the Glendale Redevelopment

Agency purchased The Alex Theatre on Brand Boulevard, rescuing the then

movie house from closing its doors to the public.

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On Tuesday, the agency saved the theater from closing its doors again,

agreeing to cover The Alex’s $200,000 budget shortfall for fiscal year

2001-02.

Theater officials said they’re hoping to eventually wean The Alex off

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its dependence on the Redevelopment Agency, its parent and owner.

“Although we’ve been provided with financial help from the council to

get through the rest of the this year, it doesn’t mean we’re going to

soften our efforts to reduce our expenses or enhance our various revenue

streams,” said Alex Executive Director Barry McComb. “It’s not unusual

for city-owned facilities to receive some sort of subsidy, but certainly

the goal always is to minimize that subsidy as much as possible.”

The city began providing The Alex with a subsidy each year after it

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purchased the theater from Mann Theaters Corp. in May 1992 for $650,000.

The Redevelopment Agency spent $6.2 million renovating and restoring the

1925 venue before officially reopening its doors on New Year’s Eve 1993.

“We used that as a revitalization tool for that part of Brand

Boulevard,” said Jeanne Armstrong, director of development services for

Glendale. “We also wanted to save a historic building and bring an arts

performance venue to Glendale.”

The city then spent hundreds of thousands of dollars getting The Alex

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off its feet. The agency lent the theater $600,000 in August 1994 to pay

for two musicals and ongoing operating expenses and lent another $80,000

to The Alex in April 1995 to cover a budget deficit.

But between 1995 and 2001, the agency’s subsidy to The Alex has

remained stable at $395,000 for the fiscal year, said Alex Regional

Theatre Board Chairman Max Howard.

This fiscal year, the theater’s subsidy was raised slightly to

$404,875 to reflect cost of inflation and increased cost of living

expenses.

Armstrong said completely cutting the umbilical cord between The Alex

and the agency doesn’t seem likely.

“This is a city facility, and I compare it to a library,” she said.

“I’m not sure it’s ever possible to expect a library or a theater to be

self-sustaining. I don’t know of any theater that is self-sustaining from

operating revenues. They’re all dependent on grants and endowments.”


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