Steel River Playhouse Receives $10,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

Steel River Playhouse sign
Image via the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board.
An NEA grant is funding "A Promise of Pottstown," an original production at Steel River Playhouse.
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Steel River Playhouse, a Pottstown cultural site promoted routinely by the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board, has been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to receive a Challenge America award of $10,000.

The grant will support the organization’s “Healing on High Street” initiative.

Healing on High Street is the vehicle through which Steel River Playhouse seeks to uses storytelling as a means of advancing the borough in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on specific races and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The NEA grant is one of 262 Challenge America awards totaling $2.62 million, announced as part of the NEA’s first round of fiscal year 2023 grants.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects in communities nationwide,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson. “Projects such as this one with Steel River Playhouse strengthen arts and cultural ecosystems, provide equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, and contribute to the health of our communities and our economy.”

“A Promise to Pottstown”

According to Artistic Director Leena Devlin, “I am so very proud of the team at Steel River Playhouse and our community partners that were instrumental in making this project happen.

“This grant will allow us to produce a play [A Promise to Pottstown] that we had commissioned to be written by the award-winning playwright Brie Knight. This play is a beautiful piece about the Pottstown community during the difficult times of the pandemic immediately following the murder of George Floyd.

“It is an incredible honor to be awarded this grant from the NEA and I’m looking forward to our community coming together to produce and enjoy this play.”

The Healing on High Street initiative was initially made possible by a grant from the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation and culminated in A Promise to Pottstown.

Its script draws on Pottstown’s wealth of diversity, amplifying voices that often remain unheard. In collaboration with community partners, the project brought together a team with an interest in transformational storytelling, social justice, and diversity.

The Creative Process

To create the original work, award-winning playwright Knight joined the team.

Her plot was informed by approximately 100 interviews conducted by the Pottstown Trauma Informed Community Connection (PTICC) and the YWCA. Representatives from the two organizations sought input from diverse populations in Pottstown, ranging from school students to senior citizens.

A community cohort then gave feedback to help focus the responses, working with Knight to create the play, which went through several iterations to get to its final state.

A portion of the work was performed at the YWCA Week Without Violence in October, and a reading of the play was held for stakeholders at Steel River Playhouse in November.

The NEA grant will help bring this work to the wider community with performances later this year.

More Information

For more information on this and upcoming classes, camps, performances and other Pottstown theatrical events, visit the Steel River Playhouse website.


The Steel River Playhouse in Pottstown, recently bolstered by an NEA grant for its “Healing on High Street” initiative,
is a multifunctional space with ample adaptability to various theatrical needs.

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