Theater's numbers still sagging

CITY HALL — The historic Alex Theatre continued to struggle with the effects of a protracted recession last year, selling fewer tickets and bringing in less revenue compared with the year before, according to the organization's year-end report.

While the theater almost broke even at the end the 2009-10 fiscal year, the venue would have ended the year down $419,302 without the annual $415,000 city subsidy, or "management fee," according to the report from Glendale Arts, the nonprofit that runs the Alex.

"Although there have been signs that the economy is beginning to recover, many performance venues, including the Alex Theatre, have continued to experience event activity and corresponding declines in attendance," Glendale Arts Executive Director Barry McComb said in a letter attached to the report.

The theater saw a more than 22% drop in ticket sales and an 18% drop in ticket revenue compared with last year, which itself had seen a nearly 18% drop in attendance compared with the 2007-08 fiscal year.

About 85,000 people attended events at the Alex Theatre last year, compared with about 106,000 in 2008-09, according to the report.

Still, about $100,000 in rental profits from filming — such as the NBC series "Next Comic Standing" — helped keep the overall revenue loss to 10%, officials said.

In the report, Glendale Arts officials said they were optimistic that event activity at the theater would turn around this year after two years of declines, pointing out that advance ticket sales and rental booking deposits are up by more than 140%.

Glendale Arts officials also lauded the nonprofit's involvement in the creation of the Glendale Renaissance Orchestra, which plays concerts at the Americana at Brand and the Alex Theatre and has seen robust season-ticket sales.

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