“With heartfelt appreciation!”
That is the way that April Evans, Executive Director of Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center, shared the news that the local theater and performing arts venue had exceeded its campaign fundraising goal.
The Uptown! Board of Directors embarked on a $500,000 fundraising campaign in June 2020.
“We couldn’t have been more heartened by the response,” said Uptown! Board President Holly Brown. “Clearly, Uptown! has struck a collective chord as a place valued both for its amazing variety of performances and as a community gathering place and touchstone.”
“When we knew that that Uptown! would be closed indefinitely due to the pandemic, we decided that we couldn’t let the lack of program revenue jeopardize our future, especially when we had just come off our most successful year ever,” Evans said.
In the year prior to the shutdown, Uptown! had hosted 160 performances that featured national and local talent, including professional music, Broadway theater, film, dance, speakers, community events, and more. Additionally, hundreds of students enjoyed learning through West Chester Studio programs and classes, which offer high-caliber performing arts education.
“Our members stuck with us, even though we had no in-person live performances to offer,” Evans said. “And the ‘Raise Up! the Curtain’ campaign attracted donations from both loyal patrons and new supporters. It’s exhilarating – we could not be more grateful for everyone’s support!”
The importance of staying connected to the community is a priority for Uptown! The theater successfully pivoted to livestream programming to continue quality content while still under shutdown. As a thank-you, livestream performances are being offered free of charge to campaign donors and members through March.
In addition to the ‘Raise Up! the Curtain’ campaign, Uptown! also made fundraising strides toward the eventual purchase of the theater building and property from the group of local investors who acquired and restored the original historic armory. With a goal of buying the building at the end of 2022, Uptown! has started a capital fund with a generous gift from local philanthropist Penelope Wilson, who died at the beginning of February.
“Penny invested her philanthropic monies in organizations that contribute to the quality of life in Chester County and elsewhere,” said Molly Morrison, Board Secretary and Development Chair.
Morrison remarked on Wilson’s remarkable legacy and said that the entire community will miss her generous spirit and foresight.
“Penny was one-of-a kind,” said Morrison. “Her generosity to Uptown! will allow us to not only successfully return to live performances once the pandemic is contained; it will also allow us to accomplish another key milestone, ownership of the theater. Clearly, she believed in our future as strongly as we do!”
Click here to learn more about Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center or to make a donation.