We do a lot of things around our community, but above all we promote creative endeavours.
What is Chester Made?
Chester Made is a humanities-based initiative to celebrate and promote arts and culture in Chester and harness their power as a force for community revitalization. The Chester Made Institute and pop-up makerspace at 511 Avenue of the States now form a creative, cultural hub in the heart of the historic arts and culture district that gives community members the chance to engage with one another, learn more about the city’s cultural assets and history, rebuild their downtown, and change perceptions about Chester. Chester Made is a community project of MJ Freed Theater and Pennsylvania Humanities Council, with funding from Spring Point Partners and support from people who live, work, and play in Chester.
Pennsylvania Humanities Council was invited by Chester city officials, Widener administrators, and cultural leaders to be part of engaging residents in the planning of a Chester Cultural Corridor to revitalize their downtown. Thus, the Chester Made partners were formed.
The Chester Made project continued to develop as a civic-engagement and education initiative grounded in inclusive, people-centered, humanities-driven community development.
The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage awarded PHC a Discovery Grant to support the initial planning and exploratory process for the Chester Cultural Corridor Project.
The Chester Made Ensemble was launched with Chester Arts Alive and Just Act. This group of local advocates held eight story gatherings throughout the community. After connecting with over 350 residents, the Cultural Asset Map was created, the Chester Made Ensemble theatrically presented the entire project to Chester City Council, the community celebrated the project in a pop up Arts Loop, and Animating Democracy wrote an executive summary of the project.
The community came together with Alex Gilliam from the Public Workshop to renovate a vacant storefront owned by Devon Walls at 511 Avenue of the States, transforming it into the Chester Made Makerspace. Replete with tools and other resources, residents and artists got to work designing hands-on programs.
Complementary to locally-sourced programs, PHC and its partners further bolstered the Exploration Zone through co-developing exchanges and programming for the community with nationally-known artists and historians.
PHC received four grants in partnership with MJ Freed from PECO, Wells Fargo, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Spring Point Partners to support the creation of The Illuminate Chester documentary series, Broken Pieces Workshop series, conversations with Pulitzer-Prize winners and the Chester Made Institute, respectively.
The Chester Made Institute debuted with the Artist and Storyteller Residencies and signals a new maturation phase for Chester Made as a model for civic and cultural collaboration.