Our 1st Summer Arts Class
It all began in the fall of 2000, when I was led to do something related to the arts, after the passing of my former husband, the late Norman W. Freeman. I looked around for space and finally talked a local landlord, Moses Manley, into renting a garage on the west end of Chester near 2nd and Townsend Streets, enlisting the help local artists William “Mr. Bill” Dandridge and James Thomas to serve as instructors for children’s art classes, during the summer of 2001. The garage was then transformed into the “West End Art Center” and we began to take these eager participants on trips to local museums and galleries, exploring the arts.
Since the center was in the path of the new construction on 2nd Street for Route 291, the activities were eventually moved to 29 East 5thStreet, where a gallery was opened on the 2nd floor. This gallery was considered Phase II, and the children’s cultural expressions were hung with pride along with the works of local, regional and nationally recognized artists. Creative Writing Classes were added and events were attended with growing community interest. A Widener University professor, Allan Irving, discovered our gallery, and began to bring his students to get involved in the Chester community using the arts as a vehicle, what a unique idea!
Phase III involved the move to 419 Edgmont Avenue, Chester, PA, as it was evident that more room was needed due to the growth of the programs. The Widener students were enlisted to help and a community engagement effort was launched. The building, practically abandoned, was renovated following a season of “nightmare contractors”, along with the help of dedicated staff, students and community volunteers.
The Nia Center, Inc. immerged in 2004 as a Phase IV developmental need, along with many other organizations and individuals that have used FCA as their headquarters, meeting place, career experimental launching pad, since its inception. Our former home, the Freeman Cultural Arts Complex, located across from the post office in downtown Chester, served our community well during its existence, and had been recognized as Chester’s Cultural Headquarters”. Our mission has been “to provide a local facility for the exhibition of art with related presentations, providing cultural awareness and enrichment to the community.
I am pleased to report that we have been true to our mission through the years, and it is has not been defined as to what Phase V may be for Freeman Cultural Arts. In the meantime, we are scheduling exhibits throughout the region and will keep you aware via the Internet and through mailings, if necessary.
FYI -The Nia Center programs have relocated to the historical Wilson Memorial site, 214 Reaney Street, Chester, PA., which is a significant part of the Ruth L. Bennett property. Check out www.niachester.org for more information.
In closing, check our Calendar of Events and I pray that you continue to connect with us through this site! Blessing to all!!!