The 5th Avenue Theatre by the Numbers: A Record-Breaking 2015/16 Season

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The 5th Avenue Theatre wraps up another season of spectacular musical theater with successes on and off the stage. Over 300,000 guests attended one of the 219 performances at the historic theater during the 2015/16 season, generating more than $20M in earned revenue for the organization. Special thanks to 2015/16 season sponsors ArtsFund, U.S. Bank, media sponsor The Seattle Times and official airline Delta Air Lines for their support.

Check out our 2015/16 highlights, including new data on the economic impact of The 5th, a shattered box office record, a new festival of new musicals, a successful gala, a landmark renovation began, and national acclaim for 5th Ave education programs.


A New Economic Impact Study:
The 5th Avenue Theatre partnered with the University of Washington’s Michael G. Foster School of Business to assess the economic impact of the historic downtown theater on King County. Their results revealed an impressive truth: The 5th Avenue Theatre not only produces amazing shows, but contributes $27.3M annually to the local economy. For every $1 spent on a ticket, the average 5th Avenue Theatre guest spends an additional $0.73 on goods and services in King County, totaling $13.3M in the 2015/16 season. When broken down, that total reflects $1.6M in lodging, $7.2M in food and beverage, $2.6M in transportation and $1.9M in shopping downtown. Additionally, the theater has a $24M operating budget, with $5.2M going to vendors and $8.8M invested in wages and benefits each year. As the largest arts employer in the Pacific Northwest, The 5th provides over 800 jobs to professional actors, stage crew, musicians, artisans and administrative staff each season. Five unions represent the many artists, designers, creators and theater employees.

A Shattered Box Office Record:
The critically-acclaimed 2015/16 holiday show, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music, broke records as the most-attended holiday show in 5th Ave box office history. Over 82,000 guests came to performances during the show’s six-week run. The holiday production, which was sponsored by Snoqualmie Indian Tribe and Macy’s, grossed over $4 million in ticket sales and 5th Avenue audiences and staff/crew contributed $33,100 to Treehouse and Make a Wish Foundations.

A New Festival of New Musicals Took Seattle By Storm:
NextFest, an inaugural annual festival of new musicals, was introduced by The 5th’s New Works Program. A celebration of new musicals at various stages of their creation, NextFest brings a variety of writers, actors, artists and creators together for a concentrated period of intense development, including writer’s groups, 29-hour readings and staged readings. Lerner & Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon was featured at NextFest 2015 and its new book and updated orchestrations appeared as the eighth show in the 2015/16 season on The 5th Avenue stage with sponsorship by the National Endowment for the Arts. The 5th Avenue production, including a majority of the cast, traveled to perform a three-week run at The Ordway Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota. The New Works Program operates year-round, fostering the creation of new musicals under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Bill Berry and The Alhadeff Family Director of New Works and Music Supervisor Ian Eisendrath.

Rounding The Corner to Its 90th Anniversary, The 5th Gets a Facelift:
The 5th Avenue announced The Next Stage Campaign, a capital campaign to finance a multi-phase renovation of the historical theatre. This is the first major renovation since the theater reopened in 1980.  $5M was raised for the first phase of the Next Stage renovations which include a new state-of-the-art digital sound system, renovation of the existing mezzanine restrooms as well as new lobby and mezzanine carpeting. The Norcliffe Foundation and 4Culture/King County Building for Culture Program awarded a grant toward updating the analog sound system. The renovations are underway and will be completed by the first show of the 2016/17 season, Man of La Mancha.

A Fabulous Gala Raised Funds for Education:
The 13th annual A Night at The 5th Gala raised $725,000 for The 5th’s Education and Outreach programs. The event, sponsored by Peoples Bank, was attended by 350 guests at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. It included a silent auction and seated dinner in the Spanish Foyer at the Fairmont and a live auction and a performance at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Veteran 5th Avenue performers were joined onstage by the evening’s headliner: Grammy-nominated Broadway, television and pop music star Cheyenne Jackson.

National Acclaim for 5th Ave Education Programs and a Local Student:
Angel Rodriguez, a student songwriter from Puget Sound Adventist Academy in Kirkland, WA was named National Champion of the inaugural Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students. Mentored by the 5th Avenue Theatre Education Department, Rodriguez was announced as one of top three national finalists. Finalists traveled to New York City to participate in intensive songwriting workshops with professional musicians, singers, songwriters and producers. Rodriguez was awarded the winning title and a $5,000 scholarship, and his song “Bleeding” will be published by Sony/ATV. The program is a pilot initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Playbill, Inc., with additional support provided by Disney Theatrical Group. In Seattle the program was led by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and The 5th Avenue Theatre.

The 5th’s educational programming reached over 83,000 K-8 students across the Northwest, including 62,250 students who attended 149 performances of the Adventure Musical Theater Touring Company in their schools. Of those performances, 63 were free, giving students across the Northwest the experience of live musical theater regardless of their ability to pay. The Rising Star Project production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, proudly sponsored by Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, involved the participation of 79 teens from 39 schools. 2,322 students from local schools and 1,678 students from historically underserved schools attended a school matinee, and 2,663 friends and family of The 5th attended two public performances. The 14th annual 5th Avenue Awards Honoring High School Musical Theater honored participants representing over 110 productions. The ceremony, sponsored by Wells Fargo with additional support from Alaska Airlines and The Boeing Company, saw 2,000 students, teachers and parents in attendance at the Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. Show Talks with Artistic Associate Albert Evans reached 3,000 patrons at over 70 events this season.

Outreach and Accessibility by the Numbers:
Community engagement and comprehensive accessibility programs were at the forefront of the 2015/16 season, ensuring that all guests could fully experience and enjoy live musical theater.  Show Talks with Artistic Associate Albert Evans reached 3,000 patrons at over 78 free events this season. Free to the public Spotlight Nights previewed upcoming productions with in-depth interviews with creative team performances were attended by over 6,800 guests. Over 5,700 free tickets were donated to 57 local nonprofits that help underserved seniors, adults, and youth. 8,000 guests received accessibility services and 5,400 guests benefited from Braille programs, Sennheiser headsets and mobility assistance. Additionally, 2,350 guests took advantage of special wheelchair seating and discounted tickets and 229 guests benefited from eight American Sign Language, nine open captioned and eight audio-described performances across the season.

Thank you to all of our theater guests and donors for their participation in this landmark season! To purchase tickets or learn more about The 5th, visit

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