The 5th and the National Endowment for the Arts

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Located in Seattle, The 5th Avenue Theatre is one of the nation’s leading musical theater companies with a deep commitment to creating Broadway-caliber productions and developing the nation’s new musical theater. Since 2011, The 5th has premiered 17 new musicals, nine of which have gone on to Broadway including Best Musical Tony Award-winners Hairspray and Memphis. Creating live theater that serves our community is expensive, and like most theaters in the country, cannot be funded through ticket sales alone. We are proud to say that the NEA has been with us, supporting us along the way. Their financial support has been invaluable, allowing us to engage and entertain an audience of over 300,000 each year. Over 11 years, the NEA has provided us with 11 unique grants totaling $435,000 that support our projects. Some of these include our 2011 commission, Rosie the Riveter, which traveled to elementary and middle schools across Washington; our 2016 “revisal” of Paint Your Wagon that featured a brand new book; and our 2017 reimagining of The Secret Garden, currently poised for a Broadway revival.

Beyond the financial support—critical to any non-profit theater—one of the largest benefits of being awarded an NEA grant is the huge seal of approval it provides, which allows us to garner support from other sources. Because of the NEA’s acclaimed and highly competitive peer-based review process, state and city government, foundation and individual funders can be assured that The 5th’s productions and programs are of the highest artistic quality, providing the largest community impact.

The 5th Avenue Theatre shares NEA’s commitment to the transformative value that our work has in our community. The Arts are intrinsically valuable, and make us all better human beings. They hold a mirror up to nature, allowing us to reflect on history and culture—our own and others. The Arts instill empathy, offering insight when discourse and rhetoric fail. As Winston Churchill counseled in 1938, “The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them…ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.” Now, more than ever, the NEA and the Arts are worth fighting for.

Quote provided by David Armstrong and originally published in Alexa Criscitiello’s piece, “In Their Own Words: Arts Organizations on the Importance of the National Endowment for the Arts” on, February 18, 2017.

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