Key Partners

Together we create the Chester Made partners who nurture and guide this creative project.

Pennsylvania Humanities Council

In 2012, led by Executive Director Laurie Zierer, PHC undertook a profound change in its strategic direction, embracing their role as a leader in advocacy and new cross-sector partnerships, using the arts and humanities as a tool for change in Pennsylvania. PHC believes the humanities inspire people to make a difference and come together to advance cultural diversity, economic vibrancy, and an equitable society. Its work is grounded in people, connecting Pennsylvanians to each other through stories, ideas, and experiences that can change lives and transform communities. PHC champions and redefines the role the humanities play in educating citizens and strengthening community. Its programs create pathways for learning and creativity, spark dialogue and civic engagement, and encourage diversity of expression.


MJ Freed Performing Arts Theater

Founder and Executive Director Devon Walls launched the Artist Warehouse in 2003 to house Chester artists and arts entrepreneurs. Ten years later, while creating the Chester Made brand and beginning to collaborate with PHC on the Chester Cultural Corridor, Walls and this community of artists like Linwood Ward and Kenya Abdul Hadi from Butcher shop Rehab moved to the iconic Avenue of the States to launch the new arts district. In 2016, Walls was a key partner in the launching of the Chester Made Exploration Zone with PHC and served as an artist in residence at Widener for their “Boundaries and Bridges” project. Barred Rock Fund joined his real estate venture as a partner. Together they started New Day Chester, Inc. to renovate arts venues including MJ Freed Theater. They were joined by mission-aligned investors like Untours Foundation, Barra Foundation, and Patricia Kind Foundation. In the midst of this downtown investment, the Chester Made makerspace was born at 511 Avenue of the States in a space that was serving as storage for the Artist Warehouse and a temporary studio for local artists. 

Project Staff

Here’s a quick look at some of the amazing PHC and MJ Freed staff members who make up the Chester Made team.

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