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