Comitta announces $200,000 in state funding for Knauer Theater, old armory

WEST CHESTER, Feb. 16 – The state Department of Community and Economic Development awarded $200,000 to the Borough of West Chester to help further transition the National Guard Armory here into a performing arts center, state Rep. Carolyn Comitta announced today.

The money, which comes from DCED’s Keystone Communities program, will go toward specialized lighting, visual and audio equipment, and theater seating in the Knauer Theater for the Performing Arts.

"This project is the fantastic result of neighbors bringing together a patchwork of community-improvement opportunities, residents and their passions to make something that the entire state has now recognized as an economic driver and sound investment in our region," said Comitta, D-Chester. "I could not be more proud of the project’s champions. Kudos to them."

The theater is part of UPTOWN! Entertainment Alliance, a non-profit organization promoting cultural, economic and civic life experiences in the community through live theater, music, dance, film and other local events in the heart of West Chester's historic district.

The West Chester National Guard Armory building was built in 1916 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It housed the National Guard’s Bravo Co., 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry and 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which traces its lineage directly to Benjamin Franklin, who formed the unit in 1747 to protect the colonies in the French and Indian War.

The Keystone Communities program is designed to encourage the creation of partnerships between the public and private sectors in the community that jointly support local initiatives such as the growth and stability of neighborhoods and communities; social and economic diversity; and a strong and secure quality of life.

"Public-private opportunities for economic growth are what drive our community and the commonwealth toward prosperity," Comitta said. "I am proud to be a part of that conversation with state and administration stakeholders and look forward to advancing new development and investment in the region."