Most theater professionals in Jacksonville receive no financial support for the countless hours of building sets, memorizing lines, attending rehearsals, creating costumes, or giving performances. A new fund is changing that model.
Local arts activists Lisa Goodrich and Diane Brunet-García have launched a fund to support professional caliber theater artists in the Jacksonville area. The STAGE Fund (Sustaining Theatre Artists to Grow Excellence) will begin granting stipends in 2018 through a pilot grant program with The 5 & Dime, A Theatre Company, located at 112 E. Adams St. in downtown Jacksonville.
“I was surprised to learn that when I buy a ticket to most theaters in our region, the actors providing me an evening of entertainment aren’t compensated,” Goodrich said. “After all, if I go to an art gallery and buy a painting, the artist is compensated. If I go to a concert or to an event where a local band is playing, that band is compensated. In most cases local actors work full-time jobs while they spend many, many hours memorizing lines, developing characters, driving from all over the city, and they are not even paid a stipend for the entertainment they provide and the cultural impact they make.”
The STAGE Fund is a program under the management of Goodrich’s nonprofit, LMG Cooperative, which will award The 5 & Dime funds to be used solely as stipends for actors, directors, stage managers, and technicians for the entire 2018 season.
Working closely with The 5 & Dime’s volunteer staff and board, LMG will also provide professional development consultation on how best to administer and apply the funds per the granting stipulations. LMG gives to STAGE Fund grantees a powerful advantage by providing a development consultant to develop strategies that will enable theaters to pay artists in subsequent seasons.
“After this grant expires, we intend to equip the theater with operational models, best practices, and accountabilities that will allow them to pay artists a living wage well into the future,” said Brunet-García, founder of Brunet-García Advertising and former board chair of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. “We see the grant as the boost they need to begin to migrate to a paying model, and that’s certainly important but not nearly as critical as sustainability.”
The 5 & Dime was founded in 2011 with the goal of “making change in the Jacksonville cultural arts community” and a mission to facilitate opportunities and a supportive environment to nurture talent and collaboration. The 5 & Dime has built its reputation attracting diverse artists of all disciplines with the passion, skill, and drive to produce professional quality theater. The company has a track record of creating high quality productions after more than six years in existence and another year at its downtown Jacksonville location.
“The 5 & Dime consistently produces among the most riveting live theater in Jacksonville,” said Brunet-García. “This is a good way not only to launch and grow the fund we’ve been planning for three years but also to bring attention to our vision and intent by associating with a top-tier organization that already draws a loyal audience willing to pay for excellent, transformative live theater.”
“Awarding this stipend to theater artists for their valuable time and talent recognizes their hard work, especially since they are one of the few arts disciplines in Northeast Florida that don’t yet receive a salary for their labor,” said Lee Hamby, The 5 & Dime’s Managing Director. “They usually have to survive on applause and accolades, but this grant will allow us to show our artists that we truly value their work, and will at least help them with necessities, such as gas or food. The 5 & Dime is proud to be one of the paramount, independent, semi-professional theater companies in Jacksonville’s urban core.”
The long-range plan for the STAGE Fund is to grow a sustainable endowment, so every theater in the region that meets certain parameters and performance standards will be able to petition for grant funding specifically to pay theater professionals.
“The theater community has helped Jacksonville’s arts culture continue to grow and flourish,” said Alicia Somers, 5 & Dime board member. “It is an exciting time to have the opportunity to pilot the STAGE Fund that will benefit our actors and technical team members. I’m even more excited to see how we can grow this program outside The 5 & Dime walls to other theaters.”
“Often times, if actors wish to pursue their art, they have to leave Jacksonville,” Brunet-Garcia said. “A funding program such as this can, at least, help keep the talent here.”
About The 5 & Dime, A Theatre Company
The 5 & Dime is a group of artists and friends who came together with a common goal: To make a change in the Jacksonville cultural arts community. The 5 & Dime opens doors to and for all artists of all disciplines whose passion, skill, drive, and enthusiasm need a place to call home. The company facilitates diverse opportunities and a supportive environment to feature flourishing talent and collaboration.
About LMG Cooperative
Formed in 2014, LMG Cooperative is a 501c3 organization whose mission is to support cultural and artistic awareness in Northeast Florida and to promote these endeavors so they are accessible to the public. The nonprofit was formed to provide assistance to individual artists, programs, and start-up organizations that lacked structure to apply for and receive grants only distributed to 501c3 organizations. LMG forwards 100 percent of donors’ gifts to the artists or programs directly.
How to donate
For more information about making a donation to the STAGE Fund or to inquire about future granting cycles, contact Goodrich at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 5 & Dime’s commitment to our community is reflected in our mission: The 5 & Dime tells stories that engage, inspire, entertain, and challenge audiences, nurturing a rich artistic culture in Jacksonville’s Urban Core. We’re dedicated to fulfilling that mission but, as you know, we can’t do it alone. The pursuit of excellence and the ability to introduce new audiences to the power of live theatre takes the support of members from the community like you, whose very lives we seek to enrich.
The 5 & Dime is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, and ticket revenue covers only a small portion of our operating costs. In an effort to make The 5 & Dime as accessible as possible to everyone by keeping ticket prices affordable, we rely on charitable contributions for a major part of our operating income. Without it, we simply wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be able to bring you the kind of high-quality productions our community has come to enjoy.