Chester Made is a humanities-based initiative to recognize and promote arts and culture in Chester, Pennsylvania, and to harness their power as a force for community revitalization. In 2015 a group of Chester artists and educators known as the Chester Made Ensemble held eight story gatherings throughout the community. The story-gathering sessions attracted more than 350 residents and identified nearly 200 Chester Made Champions—people, events, heritage sites, organizations, facilities, and businesses that help shape the creative soul of the community.
When asked what they envisioned for a proposed arts and culture district in their downtown, residents said it’s got to be “Chester Made” through and through. A local artist and entrepreneur designed a Chester Made logo, and he and others began to curate events that celebrated Chester Made arts and culture.
Chester’s Planning Department, along with faculty and students at Widener University, took the data gathered through stories in Chester and created a cultural assets map, accessible online through the City of Chester website. The map includes cultural organizations, facilities, events, and heritage sites.
In 2016 the Pennsylvania Humanities Council received two major grants to move Chester Made into its next phase, from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. All funds are supporting the development of a Chester Made Exploration Zone. The zone will give community members the chance to engage with one another, learn more about the city’s cultural assets and history, and continue to rebuild their downtown and change perceptions about Chester.