It's important to save the Alex

It is hard to believe that more than a decade has passed since I first arrived in Glendale in 2001 as the new executive director of the Alex Regional Theatre Board.

I inherited a financially challenged organization that in that first year, came close to having to shutter the Alex Theatre. Fortunately, due to the perseverance of the board and staff, the ART Board not only survived, but has since grown into what is now known as Glendale Arts.

Over the last 10 years, in addition to operating the Alex Theatre, Glendale Arts has founded the Glendale Pops Orchestra and Glendale Youth Chorus, and maintains a community arts website that attracts more than 50,000 visitors each month.

In partnership with other community organizations, Glendale Arts presents a wide array of cultural programming, distributes arts scholarships to deserving students and strives to keep arts education as a part of the local school system.

I mention these accomplishments because Glendale Arts was founded on the notion that a great city is defined by its arts. Unfortunately, Glendale may soon lose one of its most valuable cultural assets — the Alex Theatre.

The California Supreme Court recently upheld the state’s dissolution of local redevelopment agencies, requiring cities to liquidate their redevelopment assets. In Glendale, one of these assets is the historic Alex Theatre.

In addition to the Alex, the Museum of Neon Art and the future of the downtown entertainment district, which includes the Laemmle Theatre project, also are in jeopardy.

Glendale is truly fortunate to have such a growing and vibrant community of artists and cultural offerings that contribute to the high quality of life enjoyed by residents. The arts are also an important industry responsible for jobs and attracting spending by patrons, which benefits local restaurants and retailers.

No matter which side of the redevelopment argument you may embrace, you must agree that the sale of the Alex Theatre is not an acceptable consequence of the state’s actions.

As I prepare to depart on Jan. 31 for a new position as the cultural affairs director for Thousand Oaks, I implore you to send a strong message to your state and local representatives that the Alex Theatre must remain a community asset, as it has since 1925.

I encourage you to join with Glendale Arts in its efforts to save the Alex Theatre for future generations.

Barry McComb


Editor’s note: McComb is chief executive of Glendale Arts.

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