LIVERMORE -- When Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center's executive director Len Alexander retires Aug. 31, he won't be leaving with concerns over the future of the organization.
Despite its success in bringing arts and entertainment to downtown Livermore, the nonprofit has run into financial troubles tied to the state's dissolving of redevelopment agencies. Alexander, however, is convinced it can weather the storm.
"We're still here," Alexander said. "It's no secret that we're under some stress cash-wise ... (But) by and large, there isn't anything that says we're not going to be around for a while."
A staple at LVPAC since 2005, Alexander's tenure saw the opening of the Bothwell Arts Center art space and the opening of the downtown Bankhead Theater. Alexander also guided the expansion of the theater's flagship "LVPAC Presents" program, and started the "Friday Nights Live" free summer concert series.
"We made it a practice not to promise things that we couldn't do," Alexander said. "All of it came true ... We didn't overpromise, and we didn't underpromise."
LVPAC is holding its breath for the outcome of a lawsuit seeking to retain more than $120 million for a 2,000-seat regional theater from the state's Finance Department.
Earlier this year, LVPAC secured a loan of up to $475,000 from the city to help fund continued operation of the Bankhead and Bothwell. The nonprofit has until Dec. 31, 2015 to repay the loan.
While Alexander said the money issues aren't behind his retirement, they have created more work than he signed up for.
"In terms of wear and tear, it has made an impact," Alexander said. "I'm not running away from the problem; it's just time to do something different."
A hearing on the suit against the state is set for Aug. 9 in Sacramento. Meanwhile, the board is trying to raise more money, including holding a lobster clambake at Wente Vineyards on Sep. 14. Organizers are hoping to net $75,000 from the gala.
Alexander will stay on until the end of the Bankhead's sixth season, replaced on an interim basis by longtime theater manager Tom Mitze, most recently executive director of the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Foundation. Mitze, who will commute from his home in Los Angeles, said he'll be on board until the lawsuit is resolved and a full-time director with local ties can be found.
"It's a 60-hour-a week-job," Mitze said. "Until they can solve the issue of the regional theater, you don't know what that job's going to be."
With his background in running a theater similar to what LVPAC envisions for the regional theater, Mitze said he sees a bright future for the organization, and the potential to bring in touring Broadway shows, symphonies, and larger pop and rock concerts.
"Livermore has a very fertile demographic for the performing arts," Mitze said. "It's an affluent market ... I know there are issues, but it doesn't change the long-term future of the community."
Stephan Kiefer, Livermore's community development director, said the Bankhead has had a "tremendous impact" on the downtown area, crediting Alexander with his work in guiding the effort.
"From the city's perspective, Len has been a great leader for LVPAC and has been instrumental in its success," Kiefer said. "We've worked with Tom Mitze in the past, and we're confident LVPAC made a great choice. We fully expect LVPAC will continue and move forward."
Alexander said he plans to work part-time with his consulting business and spend time with his family. His most rewarding memories at LVPAC, he said, would be the Bankhead's dedication and public tour, and weeks later, when Tony Award-winning actress Bernadette Peters performed there backed by a full orchestra.
Now that residents have discovered the theater's benefits, Alexander believes the community will protect it, adding that he has only one regret.
"I'm not going to be able to see all those great shows that we booked," he said.
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.
The Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center will hold a Lobster Clambake fundraiser Sept. 14 at Wente Vineyards. The event includes a New England-style lobster clambake, wines, live music and silent and live auctions. It begins at 5 p.m. at Wente, 5050 Arroyo Rd., Livermore. Tickets are $135, tables of eight for $1,080. Tickets are sold at the Bankhead Theater box office. Proceeds will benefit LVPAC and the operation of Bankhead Theater and Bothwell Arts Center. For details, visit www.mylvpac.com.