aka The 5th Avenue Theatre   |   Seattle, WA   |  www.5thavenue.org


Our mission is: “To nurture, advance and celebrate all aspects of America’s great original art form: the musical.” The 5th enriches the community we love with the art form we love, giving the Pacific Northwest a front-row seat to original powerhouse productions. The 5th fulfills our mission and makes a difference in our community through the power of musicals in three ways. First, we create and produce original musicals from the ground up for our mainstage. Second, we develop new musicals that push artistic boundaries and tell new stories audiences want to hear. Third, we ignite a love for musicals with engaging education programs that reach 75,000 youth each year. We are also dedicated to preserving our beautiful, irreplaceable historical Theatre in Downtown Seattle.

Ruling year info


Producing Artistic Director

Mr. Bill Berry

Managing Director

Ms. Bernadine C. Griffin

Main address

1326 5th Avenue Suite 735

Seattle, WA 98101 USA

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NTEE code info

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

Performing Arts (A60)

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Main Series Productions

Our Main Series Productions reflect the broad scope and cultural significance of the American musical – its past, present and future. We serve over 250,000 people with seven Main Series Productions of Golden Age and current day classics, popular Broadway hits, and brand new musicals.

Population(s) Served

Our New Works Program nurtures and supports writers in developing new works, and helps The 5th Avenue Theatre in our efforts to bring about the continued vitality of the American musical. The New Works Program’s goals are to:

• Advance the art form of musical theater through the creation and production of the next generation of musicals;
• Support and respond to the specific needs of individual projects throughout each phase of development; and
• Create integrated, dynamic partnerships between The 5th Avenue Theatre and writers of new musicals in Seattle, across the country, and around the world.

Population(s) Served

The Rising Star Project is a unique program that brings together high school students from throughout the region to create and produce an entirely student-performed and student-run, full-scale musical on stage at the 5th Avenue Theatre.

Through mentoring relationships with professional theater artists and administrators, students gain first-hand knowledge and experience in all facets of musical theater. In addition to performing as cast and orchestra members, students work side-by-side with The 5th’s staff and creative artists to learn about production, stage management, technical crew, fund development, marketing and communication, finance, and ticketing.

During the project, students build confidence in their abilities and learn important skills in creative and critical thinking, collaboration, and effective communication.

The tuition-free program is the only one of its kind in the country providing high level, professional training and arts experience for young people.

Population(s) Served

Adventure Musical Theatre (AMT) travels to over 100 elementary and middle schools throughout the state, serving over 45,000 students with original, 50-minute musical theater productions that teach about our region’s unique history and culture through storytelling, song and dance. AMT productions are created by local composers, writers, and performers, and designed to incorporate standards-based educational content.

Since 1994, AMT has delighted and inspired over one million school children throughout the state, including many remote and rural areas with little access to quality arts programs. For many students, AMT is their first – and sometimes only – exposure to live musical theater. The public elementary schools visited have an average of 60% of their students enrolled in the Free and Reduced Lunch Program.

Because we feel that AMT plays an important role in exposing young children to musical theater and nurturing future artists and art supporters, The 5th presents AMT performances to schools requesting a visit regardless of their ability to pay.

Population(s) Served

The 5th Avenue Theatre’s Fridays at The 5th and Tech Tuesdays are special workshops for high school students interested in learning more about musical theater and the productions on our stage. Workshops include 2-hour masterclass instruction with professional theater artists to develop performance skills and techniques, and special guest speakers to learn about the history and making of musicals and their cultural and social impact. Students receive a free pizza dinner and complimentary ticket to the show.

Workshop fees are nominally priced ($22) to make the program affordable and accessible for all interested youth. Scholarships are available for any student needing financial assistance.

Population(s) Served

The 5th Avenue Awards: Honoring High School Musical Theater is a “Tony” style event held in early June at our Theatre that recognizes and celebrates achievements in high school musical theater programs throughout the state. Students and schools are nominated in 24 categories, including “Outstanding Overall Musical Production” and “Outstanding Performance by an Actor/Actress in a Lead Role”. This program validates and promotes the importance of school musical theater programs, and encourages young people to pursue college degrees and careers in the arts. Many of the program’s “alums” have gone on to perform with our main stage productions at The 5th.

Population(s) Served

The 5th Avenue Theatre serves the community with free and accessible programming to experience high quality musical theater.

Our Community Involvement Program invites local youth and family service organizations to come to The 5th to enjoy live musical theater. Each season we distribute over 2,000 free tickets to such organizations as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Childhaven, College Success Foundation, Mary's Place, and Solid Ground.

We provide free Show Talk and community discussions to share about musical theater.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The 5th Avenue Theatre's goals are to produce the highest quality musical theater for the cultural enrichment of our community, provide valuable arts education to youth throughout Washington State, and advance the art form through the creation of new works.

We aim to entertain and enrich audiences with a diverse mix of programming that reflects the broad scope and cultural significance of the American musical – its past, present and future. Each season we serve over 300,000 patrons with seven Main Series Productions, including Golden Age classics, current and popular Broadway hits, and brand new musicals. Our critically-acclaimed, world-class productions receive national attention and provide viable employment to nearly 800 local theater artists who work on stage, in the pit, and behind the scenes.

The 5th is committed to adding to the canon of musical theater by developing and producing new musicals. Since 2001, we have produced 17 new musicals, nine of which have gone on to Broadway, garnering 14 Tony Awards, including Best Musical for "Hairspray" and "Memphis." Our New Works Program further strengthens our commitment, providing critical early stage support for playwrights, composers and lyricists to work on creating the next generation of great musicals.

Our education and outreach programs make musical theater available for all to enjoy, deepen connections with The 5th and the shows on our stage, and enhance the overall theater experiences of our audiences. We offer deeply discounted tickets to students, teachers, groups of 10 or more, and patrons 30 years of age and younger; and distribute over 20,000 complimentary tickets annually to local non-profits and organizations that serve disadvantaged populations. Each year we provide accessible services to over 4,500 disabled patrons, with Open Captioned, Audio Described, and American Sign Language interpreted performances of all shows; and complimentary assistive listening devices, Braille playbills, wheelchair seating, and elevator assistance. We serve over 74,000 youth with a variety of engaging and educational programs to experience the magic of musical theater, interact and train with professional theater artists, and encourage their continued interest and participation in the arts. Full and partial scholarship support is available to any school or student needing financial assistance to participate in our programs. We do not turn anyone away. We partner with the Seattle Public School District to increase access to arts learning and support underserved schools, with free arts experiences for students in the classroom and at our Theatre. Adults and general audiences learn more about musical theater and our productions through free Spotlight Night previews events and free Show Talks for each of our productions.

The 5th Avenue Theatre is committed to achieving the highest standards of artistic excellence with all of our productions that bring to our stage world-class performers and creative artists, full live orchestras and cast ensembles, and imaginative physical productions with sets built primarily from scratch. We place special emphasis on utilizing the talent of our amazing community of local artists and technicians.

We make musical theater accessible to all audiences through deeply discounted tickets to teachers, students, young adults, and groups of 10 or more; complimentary tickets to local non-profit organizations, including almost 4,000 free tickets to local family and youth service organizations (such as YWCA, Make a Wish, Big Brothers/Big Sisters) to attend each of our own productions in the 2014/15 Season; and ccessibility services to allow people with mobility issues and hearing and vision impairment to enjoy our shows in comfort and ease.

Our celebrated education programs are designed to inspire, educate and enrich audiences of all ages. In our 2014/15 Season, we reached younger audiences through such programs as Adventure Musical Theatre that toured an original musical production to over 140 elementary schools in Washington State, teaching over 56,000 students about our region's unique history and culture through storytelling, music and dance; The 5th Avenue Awards ceremony that honors outstanding work by high school musical theater programs throughout the state; and the unique tuition-free Rising Star Project that provides high school students professional mentoring and authentic workplace experience in creating and producing a full-scale musical on our stage, exposes them to career options in all areas of theater, and teaches them important 21st century skills. All audiences can get an inside look at our shows and learn more about musical theater through free Spotlight Night events, hosted by our Executive Producer and Artistic Director, with special guests from a show's cast and creative team; and free Show Talk discussions on key aspects of each of our productions.

We continue to expand the musical theater canon with the development and production of new works. Since 2001, we have produced 17 new works and sent nine of those on to Broadway to critical acclaim. Our New Works Program provides support to writers, lyricists and composers to work on new musicals in the early stages of development through retreats, residencies, and readings to help hone the work; and workshops to see and hear it performed by professional actors in front of a small audience for the first time. We established a Creativity Fund to provide a dedicated source of revenue to ensure that new musical development and production remain an important part of our mission.

The 5th Avenue Theatre is one of the country's leading musical theater companies. We are the only professional theater in the Pacific Northwest producing top-notch national tours as well as our own Broadway-caliber shows that showcase local artists. As the largest arts employer in Washington State, we provide jobs to nearly 800 actors, musicians, stagehands, wardrobe technicians and theater staff each year.

We are nationally renowned for our production and development of new musical, which since 2001 has premiered 17 new works, and sent nine on to Broadway, garnering 14 Tony Awards, including Best Musical for "Hairspray" and "Memphis." Our New Works Program, now in its third season, provides an artistic home for writing teams to develop new works and for The 5th to help bring about the next great new musical. The Creativity Fund provides a dedicated source of revenue to ensure that new musical development and production remain an important part of our mission.

We are equally acclaimed for our quality work remounting classical works from the Golden Age, bringing fresh insight to these great musicals of the past and challenging their standard conventions while still honoring the content and intent of the original creators. We use full-size orchestras and cast ensembles to best serve the era's big song and dance numbers.

We collaborate with local, regional and national arts organizations to enhance our artistic product, strengthen Seattle's arts scene, and promote musical theater, including: A Contemporary Theatre (ACT) to co-produce smaller scale musicals (such as the new musical “First Date", which opened on Broadway Fall 2013), Seattle Opera for set construction, Spectrum Dance Theatre, and Seattle Men's Chorus; as well as Pasadena Playhouse in California, Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey and The Ordway Performing Arts Center in Minnesota.

The 5th enjoys broad community support from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies. Each year, over 300,000 people attend our main series productions, and over 90,000 youth and adults participate in our education and outreach programs. We have over 20,000 season subscribers– one of the largest theater subscription bases in the country.

The 5th is managed by Executive Producer and Artistic Director David Armstrong, Managing Director Bernadine C. Griffin, and Producing Artistic Director Bill Berry who oversee a staff of 60 F/T and 10 P/T employees and an annual operating budget of over $24 million. Our Board is comprised of 34 leading members of the community who share a love of musical theater and commitment to the organization's success.

The 5th Avenue Theatre has become one of the leading musical theater companies in the country, recognized for our Broadway-quality productions and new works.

Since 2001, we have premiered 17 new musicals. Nine have gone to Broadway and five of those have earned a combined 14 Tony Awards. Our two most recent new musicals: “First Date", our new musical co-production with ACT, opened Fall 2013; and Disney's “Aladdin" will open Spring 2014. This is an impressive track record -- second to none in the country – and has made us the go-to shop for developing new works with such leading Broadway producers as Disney Theatrical and Dreamworks. Our 2014-15 season features two new works -- the world premiere of “Waterfall" (by the renowned writing team of Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire and co-produced with Pasadena Playhouse), the Northwest Premiere of new musical “Sleeping Beauty Wakes" -- and the reinvention of Lerner and Loewe's "Paint Your Wagon" with a new book by celebrated writer Jon Marans.

Our New Works Program is currently working with six writing teams, providing critical early development support through writers retreats and residencies, readings and developmental labs so writers can see and hear their work performed by professional actors for the first time. Our new Seattle Writers Groups continues and expands our commitment to nurture and support our rich community of Northwest artists. In Summer 2015, we launched NextFest, our first Annual Festival of New Musicals. Creating new works is a risky endeavor and one that requires significant financial resources. We manage these challenges through collaborations with producing companies and our partnership with ACT; and The 5th's donor supported Creativity Fund, which provides the artistic venture capital necessary to ensure new musicals continue to be a part of every season at our Theatre.

For 20 years, The 5th has served our community with high-quality education programs, including Adventure Musical Theater that travels to over 140 elementary and middle schools throughout the state, engaging over 56,000 students with original musicals that teach about our region's culture and history though storytelling, song, and dance; and our unique, tuition-free Rising Star Project (RSP) that provides teens the unprecedented opportunity to work side-by-side with professionals in all areas of musical theater to produce, administer and perform their own show on stage at The 5th; and in the process, gain valuable skills in creative and critical thinking, collaboration, and effective communication. Each year we expand and improve the program, sharing the students' hard work and inspiring their peers with significantly discounted student tickets to performances; and a special dress rehearsal to which we will provide free tickets to 1,500 students from high-need public middle and high schools to see the show for free.



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Board of directors
as of 10/30/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Bonnie Towne

Community Leader

Term: 2019 - 2022

Wanda Herndon

W. Communications

Margaret Inouye

K&L Gates

Sterling Wilson


Kenny Alhadeff

Elttaes Enterprises

Ann Ardizzone

Alaska Airlines

Les Biller

Biller Family Foundation & Greendale Capital

Robert Braun, Jr.

Braun Management Consulting Group

Margaret Clapp

Community Leader

SaSa Kirkpatrick

Community Leader

Randy Hodgins

University of Washington

Ann Ramsay-Jenkins

College Success Foundation

Stephen Reynolds

The Fourth Act LLC

Norman Rice

Former Seattle Mayor, Retired from Seattle Foundation

Heather Sullivan-McKay

Community Leader

Bonnie Towne

Community Leader

Eric Trott

Premera Blue Cross

Tom Walsh

Community Leader

Kenneth Willman

Russell Investments

Elizabeth Lund


John Oppenheimer

Columbia Hospitality

Sharon Bloome

Community Leader

Richard Meadows

Seabourn, Cunard North America

Pat Kennedy

Hawthorne Retirement

Tony Repanich

Shield Compliance

Eileen Glasser Wesley

Community Leader

Debbie Brown

DB Consulting

Mark Castelin

U.S. Bank

Tom Handley

Bill and Melinda Gates Investments

Carmen Mayo

CDM Investments

Martin Nelson, Jr.

Martin Nelson & Co.

Beth Porter

Snoqualmie Valley School District

Rob Sexton

Wells Fargo

Emory Thomas, Jr.

Puget Sound Business Journal

Bonnie Towne

Community Leader

Gary Tucci

Potelco, Inc.

Lori Twomey


Grace Yuan

K&L Gates

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No