A one-time, $821,960 recovery grant from the Small Business Administration will be used to help ignite efforts to reopen the historic Alex Theatre after revenue dropped almost entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Glendale Arts — the nonprofit organization that operates the Alex — earned the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant in the third round of a highly competitive process in which a total of $16 billion was awarded to venues shuttered during lockdowns. More than 15,000 applications were received.
Glendale Arts is currently in open negotiations, alongside two other organizations, to win a contract to continue to manage the Alex for the city of Glendale. A split Glendale City Council voted last month in favor of terminating exclusive negotiations with the organization, and allowed for the introduction of two more competitors.
Glendale Arts plans to use the grant money to pay for the new ticketing platform and digital media production services that the organization’s staff brought online during the pandemic, according to incoming CEO Nina Crowe.
The Spektrix system will elevate and connect ticket buying, marketing and fundraising processes, allowing tickets to be sold for both in-person and streamed events so audiences have access to programming whether they are physically at the Alex or watching across the globe.
The first set of shows since the shutdown are scheduled to go on sale starting next week at www.AlexTheatre.org.
With the one-time grant, Glendale Arts can once again support its resident companies and roster of long-time clients, getting them back in front of a crowd and stimulating spending with Glendale businesses, Crowe said.
“To be selected to receive a grant of this size from a pool of over 15,000 organizations is a tremendous honor,” she said. “Our organization was examined closely through a time intensive, rigorous process, and came out on top.”
Due to cancellations of live performances during the pandemic shutdown, revenue from the Alex dipped by 98%, but under the leadership of Glendale Arts, fundraising efforts grew 130%, according to the organization.
“We are fortunate to have dedicated donors who believe in our mission, understand the value of our organization, and rally to our cause when we need them,” Crowe said. “I am so thankful for their support and gratified that their generosity can be matched by the power of the SVO grant.”
Founded in 1925 as a vaudeville house and movie palace, the 95-year-old Alex Theatre currently houses six resident companies — the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Ballet, Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Musical Theatre Guild, Glendale Youth Orchestra, and Alex Film Society — and until the pandemic hosted a multitude of performances, shoots and special events annually.
A historic landmark, the Alex Theatre is known for its iconic marquee and 100-foot-tall neon tower, which overlooks downtown Glendale.