West Chester theater effort reaches milestone

UptownWEST CHESTER — Uptown! Entertainment Alliance has raised $2.1 million toward its goal of Bringing a Theatre to Downtown West Chester.  Uptown is in the midst of a $3.75 million capital campaign to purchase, preserve and repurpose the former National Guard Armory at 224 North High Street as a full-on Cultural Arts Center that will present professional plays, musicals, concerts, ballet, original shows and lectures along with independent and classic films.

This fundraising total includes investments from individuals as well as generous donations from businesses such as CTDI, WSFS Banks & Univest Bank.  “We are grateful for their investment in the future of Chester County” said Uptown’s Board President, Tom McEvoy.  “Their support gives us the momentum to reach our fundraising goal.”

Capital Campaign co-Chair Donna Coughey said of the project, “Music and theatre performances broaden our perspectives and teach us more about the world that we live in today.  A theatre centrally located in downtown West Chester will become a unique and valued resource for generations to enjoy.”

Uptown’s goal of Bringing a Theatre to West Chester comes with a “Standard of Excellence” as stated by actor, radio DJ and Uptown member, Tom Wang.  Wang further states, “Greater West Chester is teeming with excellent, even world-class performers, and this space will offer them a home.  Plus, the Armory is two blocks from my house!  I plan to see virtually everything that will be presented… or hopefully be involved.  It’s a win-win for the community and myself.  I’ve hoped for an opportunity like this for as long as I can remember.  Having lived in four different states, I understand fully that increases in culture and commerce can make a great town even better, and a center for performing arts will do just that for Chester County.”

Uptown! Entertainment Alliance was established in 2010 with the goal of Bringing a Theatre to Downtown West Chester, thus creating a cultural hub for individuals and families within walking distance from the borough’s lively restaurant, pub and shopping district.   UEA has an agreement from the State of Pennsylvania to purchase the Armory and is currently in the zoning process [to renovate the building as a theatre, while maintaining its historical integrity]. Uptown has hired Homsey Architects to design the performance hall, Bancroft Construction to manage the project and Clair Solutions to design the stage and screen lighting and audio systems.

Once the renovation is complete, the (still un-named) Armory Theatre will serve as a permanent presence for our community to enjoy the performing arts for generations to come.  Many older West Chester citizens fondly recall the old Warner Theatre on High Street.  Now, we all have the unique opportunity to help bring a theatre back to West Chester.  No donation is too small. For additional information on Uptown! Entertainment Alliance and its efforts to transform the Armory into a Cultural Arts Center visit www.uptownwestchester.org.

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