By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Pasadena Weekly Executive Editor
Glendale’s Alex Theatre is celebrating its 96th birthday, but its management future is up in the air.
The historical venue and entertainment center in Glendale is under the leadership of the nonprofit Glendale Arts. The Alex weathered COVID-19 by transitioning events online and taking advantage of stimulus aid, such as the recently awarded $821,960 recovery grant from the Small Business Administration through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant.
But, as Glendale Arts Chief Executive Officer Nina Crowe said, “it’s not all champagne and roses.” The lease and management agreement from the city of Glendale has expired.
Glendale Arts has been working under monthly extensions of its previous contract. Its new proposal is under review, along with two other companies who have no ties to Glendale. The city council resumes its meetings on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
Instead of worrying about what the council will decide, Crowe said Glendale Arts is moving forward and continuing to book events.
“The indecision and pushing back the decision does have an impact on our business,” Crowe said about a previous city council delay.
“We’re booking clients, but if we don’t get the agreement, we are worried about what will happen to them. Will they fall through the cracks? We are working very closely with clients. As much as we need to get back to work for the health of the organization, they do as well. I do hope we can bring everyone along with us.”
Crowe said there is much at stake if Glendale Arts is not awarded the contract: programming for the theater would be managed by a for-profit company with no ties to nor a presence in Glendale; the city and theater would lose out on grant funding exclusively available to nonprofits; local businesses could lose out on audience dollars while the new manager pursues bookings for the year and figures out how to take care of the historic building; Glendale Arts’ subsidy program, which provides rental relief to resident companies such as the Glendale Youth Orchestra, Los Angeles Ballet, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and Gay Men’s Chorus of LA, could be in jeopardy.
In the middle of all the changes, Glendale Arts established new box office and ticketing solutions.
“The hardest part is it’s a moment of uncertainty,” said Crowe, who has been with Glendale Arts for 10 years but promoted to CEO in August.
“We don’t have those answers. We’re putting our energy into what we do best — operate the Alex Theatre and make it continue to be that beacon and symbol and a place for people to (enjoy art). This is the moment when we need to shine and speak the truth.”