Armenian American Maria Sahakian appointed to a leadership role at Glendale’s Alex Theatre

Asbarez – The Board of Glendale Arts has voted unanimously to promote Nina Crowe to Chief Executive Officer and Maria Sahakian to the role of Chief Operating Officer, with a specific focus on the Alex Theatre’s operations. The two leaders represent close to 30 years of experience in non-profit theatre management, budgeting, fundraising, and business development.

Under their leadership and the direction of the Board, Glendale Arts will embark on its post-COVID chapter with the addition of streamed performances and digital media services as well as a continued drive to further solidify the organization’s financial standing and diversify programming to meet the needs of the local community. Crowe and Sahakian officially assume their new positions on August 1.

Established in 2008 to manage and operate the iconic Alex Theatre, Glendale Arts has inspired a thriving arts scene in the surrounding neighborhood. In addition to presenting programming and creating partnerships that benefit youth, patrons, artists, organizations and businesses in the community and at the Alex Theatre, it hosts a variety of community programs throughout the year that raise funds for the Theatre and contribute to a thriving and vibrant community.

Crowe has been with Glendale Arts for more than 10 years. She currently serves as the co-managing director and is responsible for shaping the financial future, community relations, and contributed income of Glendale Arts. As CEO, Crowe will expand on her existing duties as well as continue to build upon and implement the financial and strategic direction of the organization.

Since joining Glendale Arts in 2011, Crowe has helped raise close to $3 million towards operations and special projects as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars towards Glendale Arts programs. She has been instrumental in developing, planning, and executing fundraising events such as the annual Alex Theatre’s Birthday Celebration, The Illuminate Dinner, Taste Walk Glendale, and community enrichment events such as POPUP, the Open Arts & Music Festival, and more. Crowe’s achievements have been recognized with a “Woman in Business” Award in 2019 from Senator Anthony Portantino. In 2020, she participated in the Executive Service Corps’ Executive Directors Leadership Institute and in 2021 was accepted into the ACTIVATE Innovators Cohort, an arts advocacy leadership institute through Arts for LA.

Sahakian brings over 18 years of experience with the Alex Theatre to her new, expanded role. In addition to Alex Theatre bookings and programming, she will be responsible for all earned income and day-to-day operations, including rentals, programming, and patron services, food and beverage, ticket sales, and merchandise. Since joining the staff in 2003, she has booked over 3,400 dates at the Alex which have generated nearly $30 million in revenue and attracted over 1 million attendees. An active community member, Sahakian was presented with the Glendale Educational Foundation’s (GEF) 2021 Diamond Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Arts and subsequently joined GEF’s Board of Directors. She is also a Founding Member and Immediate Past Chair of the Glendale Young Professionals (GYP), a program of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, and represents Glendale Arts on the City of Glendale’s annual Armenian Genocide Commemoration and Tech Week planning committees.

Elissa Glickman, CEO of Glendale Arts since 2012, will remain in an advisory capacity to assist in the smooth transition of leadership. She has been involved with Glendale Arts and the Alex Theatre for over 17 years. Under Glickman’s leadership, Glendale Arts and the Alex Theatre weathered the elimination of the Redevelopment Agency, grew from a $1.7 million organization to $2.48 million, and increased contributed income to $400,000. Prior to the pandemic, the historic theatre generated over $9.5 million of economic activity and produced over 2,500 programs.

The future of the Alex Theatre under the management of Glendale Arts remains on a prosperous path. They successfully guided the organization through the pandemic, leading the migration to virtual events and fundraisers, and establishing a digital media department for ongoing live streaming of performances. They also will be launching a new box office and ticketing solution for the Alex Theatre as well as an updated website.

“It is an honor to have Nina and Maria lead Glendale Arts in an exciting new chapter for the organization. Their experience, dedication, and passion have guided us through the pandemic and we look forward to continued growth,” said Glendale Arts Board Chair Phil Kubel. “Through Elissa’s strategic leadership, she has crafted an operational foundation and built a team that has garnered the respect not only of the industry, but the community as well. We are privileged to have her remain on board in an advisory role as we emerge from one of the most challenging times in the Theatre’s history.”

“I am proud of our organization’s accomplishments and confident that our team will continue to guide the preservation of and programming at the Alex,” said Glickman. “Glendale Arts has a hopeful future and will continue to have a monumental impact on the Alex Theatre and the community at large.”

The Alex Theatre is a world-class performing arts and entertainment center located in Glendale, Calif. Founded in 1925 as a Vaudeville house and movie palace, today the 95 year-old cultural institution houses six Resident Companies – 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 hosts a multitude of performances, shoots, and special events annually. A historic landmark, the Alex Theatre is further recognized for its iconic marquee and 100-foot tall neon tower, which overlooks Downtown Glendale.

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