On a Friday afternoon, Keoni sits in a far corner of the small Steel City Theatre running lines with his friend Olive. Soon he will have to take off to make it to his weekly visitation with his father- a visit in a neutral site, monitored by a social worker. It’s how Keoni ends every week, and this week was exceptionally long, as he dealt with extra helpings of bullying and abuse at school. But, in general, Keoni was feeling optimistic. He’d been cast in multiple shows at Steel City Theatre, HIS theatre, made new and accepting friends like Olive, and was thriving as he developed his craft in performing arts.
It was especially exciting to see Keoni develop both as a performer and a person because he’d worked through several physical and vocal tics with his acting coach Chloe. And making friends was a big deal to Keoni- he is autistic and quirky, and generally bullied for just being himself. But now, he’d found a place where his eccentricity was not only accepted, but even embraced by staff and peers.
And Chloe could not be more thrilled for the progress Keoni was making, both onstage and off. Teaching acting is only a small part of Chloe’s many layered, multi-faceted job as Operations Manager. In general, Chloe’s job was to keep things running as smoothly as possible at Steel City Theatre. Chloe began performing as a child and worked at theatre camps beginning at age 14.
After moving to Alamosa to attend Adams State University, she co-founded Theatre O (which is still running). As sometimes happens, life issues and difficulties led to a withdrawal from college and move to Pueblo. After getting hooked up with Steel City Theatre through a former student, Chloe began working and volunteering at the theatre, and decided to make herself indispensable. Why exactly did she decide Steel City Theatre was the place for her? “I saw the kindness of the people. In all these situations, they were just kind and looked out for people, even when they had no obligation to.”
Who We Are
Steel City Theatre Company (SCTC) began with $500 and a group of people wanting to put on high-caliber productions in the medium-sized-but-feels-like-a-small-town of Pueblo, Colorado (a place you can still run into high school classmates every time you go to the grocery store). SCTC was originally formed in 2001 by a group of tenacious, young and ambitious actors from Southern Colorado. SCTC began as a floating company, working and creating theatrical performances in any performance venue that would have them. The original company consisted of Board Members who were actors, directors leading the vision for the shows, and the trials and triumphs (and falling in love and fistfights) of a group of people working closely on a project they believed in.
SCTC had a major overhaul in 2007, as original members moved and pursued other projects. Under new management and artistic direction, SCTC began to expand its repertoire and build a large children’s program. After 13 years of wandering from stage to stage, the company converted an old diner in downtown Pueblo into a 75 seat blackbox dinner theatre. Currently, SCTC utilizes multiple spaces on the diner property, and has expanded to create a patio with a performing space, a storage shed, and taking up every corner of the parking lot when needed for rehearsals.
Obviously, it’s not exactly ideal to rehearse in parking lot, and the limitations of 90 year-old building with a leaky roof, a dying air conditioner, that only seats 75, is starting to become especially problematic. In summer of 2022, the board and staff decided to put some feelers out to look for a new space. After their very first exploratory meeting, an opportunity to move into the historic Chief Theatre on North Main Street came. The price was right, and with a private donation of $300,000 to kick off the project, moving in 2-3 years became moving in 2-3 months. And so, SCTC dived into the biggest, most challenging, most exciting and most difficult adventure yet- restoring 110 year old vaudeville theatre into a state-of-the-art performing arts complex, and raising the $1M to do so.
What’s the Plan?
Because this opportunity and plan evolved so quickly, and considering SCTC only has four fulltime staff members, it’s been like running a sprint and a marathon at the same time since last fall. Of course, we’ve been doing everything backwards, beginning demolition before raising all the funds, embarking on fundraising before having a full plan, and continuing to operate our regular programs out of our diner while undertaking a major renovation and fundraising effort.
But now, we’re ready. We’re working to complete our Step 1 renovations by the end of July, 2023. This first step gets us into the space and performing as we continue to raise funds to convert the space from ok to amazing. By raising $1M, we’ll be able to create a truly awesome place for our students, performers and directors, as well as the audience.
When you partner with SCTC by donating any amount or becoming a sustaining member, you are directly impacting students like Joe. This new space will allow students a performance opportunity like no other, as well as creating jobs onstage and off. While performing in front of 75 is exciting, performing for 400 is an experience like no other. The confidence and skills you are giving to these kids is a gift that grows exponentially in their lives.
On a more practical level:
- $10 buys a section of wood for audience seating platforms
- $20 buys a 2x2 square of carpet
- $30 buys a new ceiling tile (years of leaks have caused an impressive mess in
- $60 buys a bucket of acoustic paint for the theatre (helps specifically with the
- $100 buys a stage light (in this large space, we’ll need hundreds of lights to create a quality production)
- $350 buys a brand new stage microphone
- $1500 updates our sound board (our current boards are dying slow and very painful deaths)
You’ll be joining a community of awesome people, working to create something life-changing. But don’t take our word for it-
We had the pleasure of meeting Elisa in 2022, when her son Avery attended our summer VIP Camp. “I am a donor because I have seen the positive benefits of performing arts within my own family and in our community. I have seen my child and his peers blossom in an inclusive learning environment that teaches social skills like empathy and kindness, as well as focus and determination. Friends and family can enjoy high-quality performances at affordable prices, and the visibility of SCTC raises the level of artistic excellence right here in Pueblo. I am a proud donor!” – Elisa Strickler (Sustaining Member)
We had the pleasure of meeting the Johnson family through daughter Elliet the summer of 2020. It was a rough time to have performing arts programs, but we worked to create a safe place for our campers. “Steel City Theatre Company has played a pivotal part of our family’s ability to embrace the community of Pueblo. We moved to Pueblo three years ago and after finding the theatre through friends, have embraced all things the theatre has to offer. SCTC provides opportunities to see musical theatre, award-winning plays, as well as many productions by the talented youth in our community.
SCTC has enabled our two children to foster friendships, grow in confidence, and express themselves invaluably through various performing arts opportunities. Values of integrity, confidence, acceptance, perseverance, working as a team and a strong work ethic are all illustrated in participating in SCTC Performing Arts Academy, VIP Camps, as well as youth productions. Our family is a member because we believe in the difference Steel City Theatre Company makes every day.” Jill Johnson (Sustaining Member)
You can make a donation right now- on our website:
- Click on the “Donate” button that floats on any page of our website www.steelcitytheatre.org
- Go directly to our fundraising page: https://givebutter.com/savethestage
- We will happily accept cash or checks at the theatre, 241 S Santa Fe Ave, Pueblo, CO, 81003
- If you are not comfortable giving your credit card info online, you can call or come down for us to process your credit card (719-994-8298)
We appreciate our donors so much! Our members receive cool swag at the different levels, recognition in programs, and names up when the Chief is open! Not only that, but at each membership level we open, members unlock exclusive super cool bonuses!