Arts organization looks to purchase building

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Rendering courtesy PURE Architects

A nonprofit arts organization is on its way to a permanent home.

The Diatribe recently signed an option to purchase agreement for a $400,000 vacant building at 2040 S. Division Ave. in Grand Rapids.

The Diatribe Executive Director Marcel Price said the organization paid down $30,000 and will spend the next two years raising funds for the remaining purchase price amount.

The Diatribe is partnering with Kennari Consulting and PURE Architects. The organization is working with Kennari to conduct a pre-feasibility study, develop a business plan and prepare for a capital campaign. Price said the Diatribe is in the process of accepting bids from general contractors and determining the cost of the renovation project.

In addition to the capital campaign, Price said the organization will pursue state and federal grants to ensure the longtime vacant building is not an environmental hazard and to possibly take out a bank loan.

Price said The Diatribe is moving because its has grown significantly over the past year.

“While a lot of art organizations have been shrinking and downsizing and scrambling through the pandemic, we have been growing wildly,” he said. “We released a free downloadable content that has hundreds and hundreds of downloads so that new teachers, not only across the state but across the country, started not only getting familiar with our work but utilizing it in their classrooms during times of distance learning. We’ve done a significant amount of programing, both virtual and in-person. We did the very large 49507 Project, which was one of the largest Black- and brown-led art projects that our city has ever seen, doing seven different murals done by Black and brown artists on predominantly Black- and brown-owned buildings as a way to reclaim our neighborhoods in the southside of Grand Rapids. As our work continue to grow, we felt more inclined to say ‘Hey, we want to plant roots here.’ Many of us live in the neighborhood.”

The 20,000-square-foot mixed-used building will feature two floors and a basement. The basement will be a venue where storytellers, speakers, performing artists, poets, singers, songwriters and comedians can perform. The first floor will include office space, photography and audio engineering studios and two retail spaces. The second floor will include eight different apartment units for artists.

The Diatribe currently is operating from Garfield Park Neighborhood Association building at 334 Burton St. SE in Grand Rapids.

The Diatribe is a nonprofit arts organization that facilitates afterschool programs, assemblies and creative writing workshops rooted in spoken-word poetry.

More information is at thediatribe.org.

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