Located at 112 E Adams Street, The 5 & Dime is a nonprofit theatre company that opens its doors to artists of all disciplines whose passions, skills, drive, and enthusiasm need a place to call home. The theatre was founded by a group of artists and friends in 2011 who came together with a common goal of developing Jacksonville's arts and culture community, with the specific intention of seeing theatre productions within the urban core. Advocating for change and then actually defining an approach to achieve that change can feel overwhelming. This may be one of the reasons why individuals adopt an apathetic attitude, one that is echoed by sentiments such as "it is what it is." Instead of accepting things as they were, when questioning who could serve as agents of change, the 5 & Dime's founding group thought "Why not us?". With that belief in mind, they sought ways to harness their talents to enrich life in Northeast Florida.
Initially nomadic out of necessity, The 5 & Dime dedicated the first five years of operations to building their brand while keeping their overhead low. They partnered with various hosting venues when bringing their productions to life. In February 2017 the company scaled its operations and found a stable home in Jacksonville's urban core. They now reciprocate to the creative community the same hospitality that they were previously shown by opening the doors to their 80-seat theater and lobby gallery to artists looking for a place to host performances and exhibitions.
With every work that they produce, The 5 & Dime asks audiences to reflect on the city that they live and work in. They challenge their audience's assumptions about how we look at our city and the barriers that prevent us from elevating Jacksonville to a nationally recognized great city. The company still operates with the question "Why not us?" in mind, but they have expanded the "us" in that question beyond the original founding members to also include the arts community as a whole and the city at large. The 5 & Dime encourages individuals to check at the door any of their apprehensions and self-depreciating beliefs that if something exists in Jacksonville then, by its vary nature, it must be less good than something similar that exists elsewhere.
Lee Hamby is one of the founding members of The 5 & Dime. He also currently serves as the company's Managing Director. Hamby has a CV that illustrates his dedication to theatre in Jacksonville. A graduate of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and Florida Community College at Jacksonville, Hamby started his career in theatre as an actor and Costume Designer with The Alhambra Theatre & Dining, the oldest continually operating dinner theater in the United States. After 19 years and 35 productions with The Alhambra, Hamby continued his career in theatre as the Production Designer with Players by the Sea, where he worked from 2005 through 2011. He left Players by the Sea in 2011 when The 5 & Dime was founded.
The 5 & Dime couldn't exist if it were not for the loyalty and hard work of their volunteers, as well as the generosity of their donors. The company strives to make productions accessible to everyone by keeping ticket prices affordable. They are able to succeed in this mission because of charitable contributions from community members. Please consider donating to The 5 & Dime to support their continued efforts to provide Jacksonville with high quality theatre productions.
10 Questions with Lee Hamby
What is the mission of your organization?
The 5 & Dime tells stories that engage, inspire, entertain, and challenge audiences, nurturing a rich artistic culture in Jacksonville’s Urban Core.
When was your organization formed and how has it grown?
The 5 & Dime was founded in 2011. We started as a nomadic theatre company, producing a few shows a year. Now, six years later, we have a permanent home in the heart of downtown and produce six full productions, three staged readings, and three cabaret events each year. We also offer our venue to other organizations and artists to use for their performances and events. Additionally, we have a lobby gallery that features visual artists, who rotate each month.
What strategies are in place within your organization for you to engage your audiences?
We really focus on telling strong stories that make audiences think and create conversation. Our audiences have grown to appreciate seeing new productions that they’ve never seen before about subjects that they may never have thought about previously. We have a strong social media presence where we feature not only our own events but other events around the area.
Why is art and culture important?
Arts and culture are important as a means for people to express themselves and have a creative outlet. They illuminate and enrich life. They help the economy and can be used to motivate education, as well as impact health. They have certainly impacted my life more than I could possibly say.
What’s your organization’s next major milestone and is this milestone part of a long-term plan?
Our next milestone, as well as long-term plan, is to be able to pay our staff wages and to pay a stipend to actors, stage managers, and directors. It is important to compensate the people who make our company thrive. With a mix of our patrons ongoing support, donations, and grants, we hope to start that process in the near future. We cannot thank enough the many volunteers who have helped us survive and grow over the last 6 years.
What would you like to see in the arts and cultural community in Jacksonville?
Visual art seems to be the main focus and I would really like the performing arts to have more of a focus. I would like both the performing and visual arts to be respected equally here in Jacksonville. Now more than ever, we have some extremely viable performing arts organizations specializing in theatre, dance, etc.
Does your organization partner with other organization(s)?
We LOVE to partner and collaborate with other organizations and artists. That has been extremely important to us from day one. It has made us who we are today. Our four year partnership with The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens made a gigantic impact on our growth. It helped build our audience, who continues to support us in our new permanent location. That is just one example of the amazing partnerships and collaborations we’ve experienced.
What is a program offered by your organization that you’d like to highlight? Additionally, what is an organization that you think more people need to know about?
This year, one of our major goals is to help nurture emerging directors and stage managers. We desperately need more of both of those artists in our theatre community. As a result, we have asked all local directors to submit and pitch their passion projects or dream shows. We will then choose our entire season, which we are calling The Directors Season, from those submissions. It has been super exciting to see some new up-and-coming directors emerge and what productions they want to see on our stage. The process has been very inspiring and educational.
I would like more people to know about Hope at Hand. They are a local organization who help youth through art and poetry. A wonderful organization right here at our fingertips.
How do you stay up to date with the art and cultural happenings both nationally and in Jacksonville?
I am constantly looking at what other performing arts organizations from around the world are doing and what new works they are producing. They inspire me to read plays and present them to our repertory committee to read for consideration as possible future 5 & Dime productions. I also look for new ways that other organizations are evolving and the creative ways they engage audiences. Locally, I try to attend as much as I possibly can. Supporting our sister theatres and performing arts companies is very important to keep ongoing relationships with each other so that we can build strong audiences together.
How can others get involved with your organization?
We at The 5 & Dime love fresh faces and are always looking for volunteers of all kinds. Please email me or chat with me at one of our performances and I will lead you in the right direction of who to talk with to get involved. We are currently looking for front of house volunteers as well as backstage tech volunteers.