The Arts Light Up the Future of Downtown Seattle

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With “Shelter in Place” in effect around Washington State and schools effectively closed until the start of the new school year in the fall, there are many businesses that are all but closed. There are some businesses whose staff can work remotely, but there are many who cannot. In addition to our artists, technicians, and craftspeople who have no show to mount, neighboring restaurants are closed for undetermined lengths of time, retail locations are closing, and there is a growing sense of unease for ground-level businesses around Seattle.

As COVID-19 continues to send out shockwaves of anxiety around our community, it may seem like there is nothing to be done about the world crumbling around us. But there is. You can support one of your local arts institutions. And here’s why.

Beyond the comfort and nourishment that the arts provide for the human spirit, any arts administrator can point to the impact that their organization has on their local economy, and The 5th Avenue Theatre is no different. In fact, The 5th Avenue Theatre was founded as a means to bolster a struggling economy.

In 1979, when the city of Seattle faced losing the historic 5th Avenue Theatre, 43 local companies and community leaders joined forces to save the glorious building. This visionary group of leaders saw a need in our city, and saw an opportunity for The 5th as well. Following the mid-70’s recession, Downtown Seattle struggled. There was a perception that it was not safe to be downtown after dark and as a result, restaurants and shops struggled to stay open.

Additionally, at that time, there was no theater that was presenting Broadway tours in Seattle. Broadway shows would travel from California directly to Vancouver, British Columbia, bypassing the Pacific Northwest altogether. Despite a latent passion for the arts, there was no opportunity for Puget Sound residents to experience the biggest and the best from Broadway without planning a trip to New York.

The founders saw an opportunity for The 5th to become a keystone in a revitalized downtown, and to be a beacon of light and joy—a reason for people to come downtown after hours, to celebrate their city, and revel in the magic of transformative theatrical experiences. From its very inception, The 5th Avenue Theatre was created to serve Seattle.

And it was a wild success! Today (under normal circumstances), The 5th is surrounded by a tantalizing variety of restaurants, many of which partner with The 5th each season to offer guests special discounts. Our 2019/20 restaurant partners include Andare Kitchen & Bar at the new Hyatt Regency, Purple Café & Wine Bar, the Hard Rock Café, Wild Ginger, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, the Capital Grille, and Cortina Seattle, an Ethan Stowell Restaurant. And there are many more nearby whose foot traffic is regularly boosted by theater-goers in the Downtown Core.

The 5th fuels the local economy to the tune of $27.3 million annually, which includes $14 million paid in salaries, wages, and benefits to employees and contractors, and $13.3 million in patron spending related to their attendance at one of our performances.

When you buy a gift certificate, renew your subscription or make a donation to The 5th, you are throwing sparks on the kindling as we prepare to light a fire under our local economy. The 5th Avenue Theatre brings people downtown—to work and to play.

We look forward to being here, spreading joy through great musical theater, long after the mandates have been lifted. We intend to be here, giving back to our community for generations to come!


The 5th Avenue Theatre is one of the largest arts non-profits in the Pacific Northwest, lighting up the lives of generations of theater-goers with the joy and magic of musical theater. Help us ensure that we will remain a lynchpin in our community for generations to come and make a donation today.

MAKE A GIFT TODAY AND DOUBLE THE JOY!
Our friends at HomeStreet Bank have made a $10,000 Challenge that will match every gift made in support of The 5thAll gifts received by April 18 will be doubled by this Challenge.  Increase the impact of your support by making a gift today!

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