Theater's revenue jumps up

DOWNTOWN — The Alex Theatre has seen an increase in attendance and erased its roughly $55,000 operating deficit for this fiscal year, according to the venue’s latest financial report.

In the second quarter of this fiscal year, attendance at the historic theater more than doubled to 33,248 from the first quarter, even as the total number of public activities — including plays and other productions — fell by 12.3%, according to the report.

The latest figures, outlined in a quarterly report to the Redevelopment Agency, represent a marked improvement for a venue that saw double-digit drops in activities and attendance for the first quarter from the same quarter a year ago, or July through September.

The second-quarter ascent was attributed primarily to cost-cutting measures that have been implemented with the worsening economy.

Box office hours were cut from seven to four days a week, and the hard-copy print edition of its community newsletter was scraped. It will now be available solely online.

“We’ve had to make some hard decisions,” said Barry McComb, executive director of Glendale Arts, the nonprofit that operates the Alex Theatre.

The organization has also relied more on part-time workers to fill vacant positions, he added.

“I think it’s safe to say all the fat’s gone,” McComb said.

Combined with more aggressive efforts to fill out the venue’s rental schedule for filming and other private events, the cost reductions have put the Alex roughly $5,400 ahead of where it was for the same period last year, according to the report.

Still, revenue was slightly down compared to last year. The theater generated $1.11 million in gross ticket sales in the second quarter, compared to $1.44 million last year.

McComb wouldn’t say what further cutbacks might look like for the theater, but was confident that solid bookings starting in March and lasting through June would carry Glendale Arts through the fiscal year at a “break even” pace.

Glendale Arts board members are scheduled to meet this weekend to discuss revising the nonprofit’s strategic plan, which was introduced last year before the recession took hold.

Now, under a dramatically different economic outlook, McComb said the board must revise goals for the Alex Theatre to be more “realistic.”

As is quickly becoming more commonplace in the nonprofit sector, shared resources may also play a great role, said Steven Lee, who serves on the Arts & Culture Commission as a liaison to the Glendale Arts Board of Directors.

“If we don’t help each other, and each one goes out on their own, everybody’s going to struggle,” he said.

Glendale Arts, which receives an annual $415,000 city subsidy to operate the Alex Theatre, is also moving away from larger fundraising events in favor of attracting smaller donations from more people, McComb said.

The financial report is scheduled to be presented to the Redevelopment Agency at 2:30 p.m. today in City Council Chambers, City Hall, 613 E. Broadway.


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