The Untours Foundation hasn’t ever made a loan to a museum, but it is invested in an exciting new arts project in the struggling city of Chester, Pa. New Day Chester is inspiring artistic expression and using it as fuel for social renewal and much-needed economic development. With multi-talented artist and entrepreneur, Devon Walls, at the helm, this community-based business purchased several dilapidated buildings in the heart of downtown Chester; renovated them to serve as a theater, dance studio, gallery, and maker space; and threw open the doors to the people of Chester and the surrounding area.
Over the past year, people of all ages have been flocking to these venues for performances, classes, workshops, and exhibits. Painting parties, poetry readings, furniture making workshops, dance concerts, musical performances, theatrical productions, children’s puppet shows—the initiative has something for everyone! In addition to producing shows with big-name regional performers, every class or workshop also culminates in a performance or exhibit. When you walk into the New Day Chester spaces, you see that they are saturated with multi-media artwork, creating a vibrant, uplifting atmosphere that says “change is happening.”
The New Day Chester buildings are now host to a new nonprofit, also led by Devon—the Freedmen’s Arts Alliance. Much like Untours Travel and the Untours Foundation, this nonprofit/for-profit partnership model asserts that business and social mission can unite as a powerful force for justice and renewal. In a formerly industrial city with a checkered political past and a failing education system that long ago eliminated arts classes from its neighborhood schools, a venture that stokes artistic expression and attracts arts audiences is a smart, strategic choice. New Day Chester is nurturing talent, creating jobs, lifting spirits, and reconstructing a city that was literally falling apart. The Untours Foundation is proud to invest in this living, breathing business featuring art and humanity at its best.