DAAC looks to resurrect itself


Revitalization of South Division Avenue ousted the Division Avenue Arts Collective from its building last summer. Photo by Chris Pastotnik

An organization that was once an anchor to the Division Avenue redevelopment — and closed as a result — is making a comeback attempt.

The Division Avenue Arts Collective, or DAAC, was asked to leave its former 115 South Division Ave. location when the building was sold last summer. The doors were shuttered Aug. 1, three months shy of the organization’s 10th anniversary.

But last week, the DAAC launched a campaign on crowdfunding website RocketHub.com with a goal to raise $20,000 to help with rent and start-up costs of a new location.

“As big a bummer as it was to say goodbye to the space we worked so hard for, we are looking to take full advantage of this time to find a larger space that will better suit our dreams for the future,” the organization’s website reads.

RocketHub is a crowdfunding site that, unlike Kickstarter, allows groups to keep whatever money is raised — not all or nothing. Supporters then receive tokens of appreciation in return for various levels of investment, such as posters, artwork, jewelry and notebooks. The project will be open until Feb. 25.

“Stretch goals” also could allow DAAC to do more things with the potential new space. A $30,000 level would allow for purchase of new sound equipment and acoustic insulation. The $50,000 level would allow for a special Many Hands Clay Cooperative Studio and screen-printing studio with darkroom.

The last, a lofty and generous goal of $500,000, would allow DAAC to purchase a building.

During the decade of operation, DAAC became a national tour destination for bands and a community arts hotspot by hosting thousands of events, performances and exhibitions. The organization also handed out more than $3,300 to local projects through a program called Sunday Soup grants.

DAAC was one of the only all-ages venues for musical performances in the area during its operation, and the closure was difficult for most of the music community.

“As more and more audiences under 21 are being routinely shut out of live music, social media continually transforming how we share media, and smaller events like Lamp Light gaining popularity, accessible and affordable venues like the DAAC are only going to become more important not only for emerging artists, but also for audiences,” said DAAC board member Mike Wolf.

Although arts organizations are crucial to a city’s development, because of their low financial upside they are often one of the first things to go once an area is developed.

Still, those organizations will find new homes, because of the value they add to the community.

“Arts is a big part of our destination,” said Janet Korn, vice president of marketing at Experience Grand Rapids. “ArtPrize is important because it gets us on national lists and helps people recognize Grand Rapids as a destination.

“But it’s not just unique events like ArtPrize. Arts being available all the time is important to the city.”

To help make art available all year round in a unique venue, DAAC has partnered with Fractured Atlas, Do-It-Together Grand Rapids, Lamp Light Music Festival and Many Hands Clay Cooperative.

The group has a 10-point guide for what they believe makes a collective:

  • Insist on neutral platforms for individual and cultural expression
  • Value spaces run by the people who use them
  • Encourage collaboration over competition
  • Support the transition from a “do-it-yourself” attitude to a “do-it-together” community
  • Strive to be inclusive and to interact with other groups and communities
  • Believe everyone has something to contribute
  • Believe that age should not limit participation in cultural production
  • Commit to remaining non-commercial and institutionally transparent
  • Strive to create a safe and accessible place that emphasizes mutual respect for all
  • Believe that constructive criticism is a foundation of healthy communities

“With the support of our community, Fractured Atlas, and RocketHub, we think we have a great opportunity to make our dreams a reality and create a new and improved DAAC that the community can enjoy for years to come,” Wolf said.

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