With the City Council's approval this week of a construction contract of just over $5 million, the historic Alex Theatre is poised to get the renovations it has long needed — and not a moment too soon.
The theater's operator, Glendale Arts, receives $415,000 annually to manage the facility, but the curtain will fall on that subsidy in 2015 and the Alex will then have to support itself. In order to do that, it needs a host of improvements to entice productions that will lure in packed houses. City officials recognized the urgency and work will begin next month on expanding the venue by about 6,600 square feet. The improvements will include a freight elevator, a backstage passenger elevator, a loading dock, a few large dressing rooms and new electrical systems to serve the property.
If all goes as hoped for, by this time next year the final touches will be in place and Glendale Arts can book the following season secure in the knowledge they have the facilities to satisfy big-name productions. More offerings and large audiences will not only help the theater survive, but will hopefully have a positive impact on that stretch of Brand Boulevard, which now has to compete with the Americana at Brand for attention. More businesses that cater to theater-goers could follow this exciting development, creating a more lively — and welcome — atmosphere in the very heart of this city.