We’ve all read the headlines. We know the stories and we understand the health and economic issues that have come with the COVID-19 pandemic. There are, however, some uplifting stories - and we have had many right here at the Alhambra. This story is about coming together and supporting one another in times of crisis.
We often say that our Alhambra guests and staff are like family to us. Since we all came together 10 years ago to “save” the theater, the feeling of family has never been more evident or proven until now. Most people don’t realize we actually employ more than 90 people. Our guests know our box office staff and see our servers and servers assistants. They certainly see our actors, but behind the scenes (quite literally!), we have set designers, costume makers, cooks and chefs, bakers, dishwashers, housekeepers, launderers and finance people. It’s our own economic ecosystem; one which depends on their paycheck from the theater to pay their bills and feed their families. Some of these folks have been with us for more than 40 years.
It was a big undertaking to provide curbside takeaway. It was another undertaking to open only for dinner. However, the biggest hurdle has been re-opening with limited capacity. Over the last few months, we've had to re-seat more than 50,000 people across five shows and seven months of our season - which has kept our box office pretty darned busy. And when we added matinee performances to accommodate the seats we sold, our actors had to agree work the extra shows. Not one person across the entire company thought twice.
We've kept the Alhambra open through the pandemic not to turn a profit, but to keep our family of staffers healthy – physically and fiscally. And that wouldn’t have happened without the amazing support of our guests – the other part of our family. Yes, we had to adapt as a business, but our guests had to adapt as well, and we respect and appreciate the effort they made, too. Without them, we would not have survived.
There were lots of curbside dining options, and our guests chose us. There were lots of options with restaurants offering curbside and outdoor dining options. Then, and even when restaurants could reopen and seat at 50% capacity, and our guests still chose us. Whether they have come weekly or just occasionally, it has been our guests who have made it possible for us to stay the course (even when the course seemed to change by the minute). Every decision we made to stay open was made deliberately and was fully thought through, including installing new processes and enhanced safety. None of these actions were taken lightly, and we like to think it was the trust in those processes that helped our staff feel comfortable to come to work and our guests continue to visit us.
Through all of this, if we came away with anything it’s that family is vitally important to everyone. This theater – this family – is glued together through the trust of each other to do what’s right, what’s safe and sometimes what’s difficult. We are grateful our guests have trusted us as we trust them – they have had to play by the new rules, too! We have no idea what the future looks like, but we know we’re still looking forward to it – just as we look forward to sharing each and every day with our Alhambra family.
More memories will be made. We can promise you that!