Weekly Blog by Nina Crowe, CEO
In the midst of historic change, I am compelled to believe that the arts are needed now more than ever. While we move toward the other side of the pandemic, there are two big areas that are going to be priorities: how do we jump-start the economy? And, how do we reunify the communities? The arts are going to be central to both. In fact, the US Chamber of Commerce asserts through partnerships with good government and smart philanthropy, the arts can come back to life, bigger, and better than before.
One of the first things we need to do is acknowledge the moment we are in and the moment we have just been through. The health, economic, and social crises these past 17 months have had a devastating impact on the creative sector – from shuttered venues to out-of-work artists and everything in between. Financial losses to arts organizations in LA alone are an estimated $35 million.
Glendale Arts is truly a local success story – surviving the pandemic because of our expertise, dedication, community-driven spirit, and sheer tenacity. While many arts organizations shuttered, the Alex Theatre was active during the pandemic, it was maintained, and committed to a sustainable COVID recovery.
When thinking of the “Big Picture,” and where we want to go in this “sustainable COVID recovery,” it’s simply about 3 things: the people, the programs, and the building.
First, we need to support the Glendale Arts and Alex Theatre team. As a family, we have been through a lot, and the staff deserves a workplace that supports their mental health and well-being. Our staff, who stayed committed to the Alex Theatre through the pandemic layoffs and pay cuts, along with yet-to-hire staff and board members in the finance and human resource fields, will work together and create pathways toward a financially stable, healthy, and diverse organization.
Our Alex Theatre programming by nature has always been diverse. During a usual year, we welcome 80,000 people through our doors and host 200 days of activity – from dance performances to live concerts, film screenings to graduations, and location shoots to cultural celebrations. A priority is to safely bring our Resident Companies and other performance groups back to our stage and once again enjoy the sights and sounds of in-person events.
In order to ensure the diversity of our calendar of events, we look through the lens of the types of programs and audiences we host as well as the types we don’t. The pandemic is certainly shaping the future of performances and productions. As we reopen and launch into our season it will be an ideal time to introduce new events to new audiences. One such way will be through streaming and our new Digital Media Department. Created by a grant from The Ahmanson Foundation, our new department will be able to help our promoter clients reach audiences not able to attend in-person performances. It will also be available for archival purposes and to assist with fundraising and other production efforts.
An intentional effort will be made to increase our youth programming. The benefits of engaging youth and young adults through the performing arts are numerous (and documented!). Plans are already underway for a Glendale Community College Music Department Residency at the Alex to launch in Spring 2022 as well as a Technical Internship Program for young adults interested in pursuing a behind the scenes/backstage career in theatre.
We’re always looking toward the future. But let’s not forget the importance of this year. On September 4th, the Alex Theatre will turn 96! We are looking forward to celebrating (hopefully) in person, bringing the community together, and honoring the iconic theatre and its meaningful contributions as the cornerstone of arts and culture in Glendale.
The daily question we have is “how do we preserve the historic venue yet remain competitive in a busy LA theatre market?” In 2020, we wrote a 10-year plan that includes modernizing the facilities to benefit both audiences and performers. Investments include a new sound system as well as Box Office HVAC systems. These, along with our new CRM and ticketing system/solution are investments in our future. They will enhance the programming and will be made possible through public/private partnerships, grants, donations (including Naming Opportunities), and other fundraising efforts.
Glendale Arts is honored to be the caretakers of the Alex Theatre since 2008. It can’t be overstated how our mission is intertwined and forever linked to the Theatre. While our expertise keeps the operations going, we can’t do it alone. There’s a relationship at every corner and every turn. Our success requires a partnership from the City, investments from theatre-goers, donors, preservationists, and sponsors; and commitment from promoters and clients. When these moving parts work together, our social fabric is strengthened creating deeper community bonds.
This week, we will submit our proposal to the City for the Lease & Management Agreement of the Alex. We’ll keep you updated as things progress.
As always, I welcome your questions and dialogue: firstname.lastname@example.org.