First published in the Oct. 2 print issue of the Glendale News Press.
The Alex Theatre appeared poised for a leadership change after the Glendale City Council voted narrowly this week to give SAS Entertainment exclusive negotiation rights for the venue’s management.
Assuming the forthcoming negotiations are successful, SAS would dislodge Glendale Arts from a role it has held since 2008, when the nonprofit was tasked with bringing the historic theater into contemporary use. The decision Tuesday afternoon moves the city past a conversation that became contentious in June when some officials made it clear they may want to move on from partnership with Glendale Arts. Continue reading “SAS on Course to Take Over Alex Theatre”
The Glendale City Council seems poised to move in a different direction on Tuesday regarding the management of the Alex Theatre, unless it does an about-face on the sole agenda item for a special meeting that afternoon.
For now, the action recommended by the municipal staff is for the council to terminate exclusive negotiations with Glendale Arts, which has managed and operated the venue since 2008, and engage a different operator in a contract. Although the city and Glendale Arts have been in negotiations since April, the council itself earlier this month decided that talks had stalled, hence the possible change.
Two managing directors of Glendale Arts, the nonprofit organization that has managed the iconic Alex Theatre for years, were promoted to high-level executive roles this month and together will lead the group, starting Aug. 1.
Nina Crowe, who presently handles fundraising and special events, will be chief executive officer, while Maria Sahakian, who manages bookings, marketing and messaging for the theater, will be chief operating officer. The Glendale Arts Board of Directors unanimously approved the promotions.
In need of a small outlet to unload your hope on the world as a largely interminable 2020 hurtles to an end?
The Alex Theatre has you covered. Or rather, it is inviting people to cover its front gate with their hopes, dreams and well wishes for 2021 — the start of which, many believe, signals the beginning of the end for the coronavirus pandemic that upended virtually all plans for this year. Passersby can take a paper tag from the bunch in front of the theater, scribble out their message and tie it alongside others on the metal gate — the Wishing Wall. People also may submit messages so that Glendale Arts staffers can post them on their behalf.
“The Alex has symbolized so many positive things for the community, and it’s done so for 95 years,” said Maria Sakahian, a managing director of Glendale Arts, which operates the theater. “Since we’re not able to open those gates and invite the public inside, we thought, ‘Why don’t we find a way for the physical structure to have that effect and nurture that feeling for the community, when people need it more than ever?’” Continue reading “Your Best Wishes for Future? Share Them at the Alex”
It was with a different sort of fanfare that the Alex Theatre celebrated its 95th birthday this year. There was no party, per se, no gala or soiree complete with the latest in ballroom fashion, trays of wine or special performances in the historic theater. In fact, since March, there’s been little-to-no action in one of the Jewel City’s greatest, well, jewels in its collection. Save, of course, for the virtual telethon that served as the marathon birthday party for the venue, where its operating body served up $100,000 in donations to help the landmark soldier through the trials and tribulations of the coronavirus pandemic. While historic theaters throughout the nation, including elsewhere in Los Angeles County, face an uncertain future, the venerable Alex is already planning its centennial birthday five years ahead of schedule. “Since COVID,” explained Elissa Glickman, executive director of Glendale Arts and, therefore, the Alex Theatre, “obviously we haven’t been able to do live performances and our effort has been focused on, how do we maintain our staff, maintain our 95-year-old building and how do we remain relevant?” On top of the six-figure fundraiser from the birthday telethon, Glendale Arts has continued to otherwise seek prominent donations and funding. Federal coronavirus assistance and the Small Business Administration provided early loans and grants to help keep staff paid. In terms of relevance, the organization has endeavored to support its artists by launching an artist assistance program. “We significantly ramped up our fundraising efforts,” Glickman said. These efforts position Glendale Arts with the tools that will be necessary if they want to successfully pivot the Alex Theatre’s operations in the post-COVID era.
If you have lived in Glendale any length of time, you are probably familiar with the family event held each fall at Verdugo Park, the Kiwanis Incredible Duck Splash. Sponsored banners promoting the fundraiser will line the streets of Glendale and Montrose for 30 days before the splashdown of about 20,000 rubber ducks. Along with the ducks, racing the Kiwanians provides fun, games and food for the hundreds of people who attend. It’s been happening for 15 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in proceeds have been directed to stocking food pantries, serving meals to the clients at Ascencia, Glendale Arts, the Glendale Police Foundation, Bringing Up Grades program in elementary schools, scholarships to graduating seniors, CV’s Prom Plus, Book Boxes around the city, the YWCA domestic violence shelters, the YWCA’s Camp Rosie, Glendale Parks and Recreation, and more.