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Monday, 13 June 2016 14:21

The DAAC’s New Digs: DIY Space Resettles in GR’s Roosevelt Park Neighborhood

Written by  Eric Mitts
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Saltbreaker performing at The DAAC’s new location on Rumsey Street, Grand Rapids. Saltbreaker performing at The DAAC’s new location on Rumsey Street, Grand Rapids.

After going homeless for nearly three years, The Division Avenue Arts Collective finally found a new home earlier this spring thanks in part to Habitat for Humanity of Kent County and SiTE:LAB.

The three groups have worked together to welcome The DAAC to its new, temporary location at 333 Rumsey St. SW, in Grand Rapids’ Roosevelt Park Neighborhood. The building is the former St. Joseph the Worker Church and is part of a future neighborhood revitalization project planned by Habitat for 2017.

On April 9, The DAAC hosted an open-house at the Rumsey Street location as part of Art.Downtown 2016. The organization has a full schedule of concerts and other arts events slated through the end of this month into July – when SiTE:LAB will begin its art installation for ArtPrize 2016.

“Habitat invited SiTE:LAB to make use of their properties during the project planning process for ArtPrize 2015 and 2016, and the group received special permission from ArtPrize to use the Rumsey St. buildings as a satellite venue, similar to the Meijer Gardens,” DAAC Board Member Mike Wolf said. “We are extremely grateful to Habitat for Humanity of Kent County for allowing our collective to use the space for the next couple months, and equal thanks goes to SiTE:LAB for acting as an advocate for us to share the space and helping us get the venue set up with bathroom fixtures, exit signs, fire extinguishers and keys.” 

From 2003 until 2013, The DAAC served Grand Rapids from its old location at 115 South Division. There, the volunteer-run, all-ages music venue, art gallery and DIY project incubator played an important role in the scene by showcasing a diverse range of arts. It became known for opening its doors to anyone interested in engaging with the creative community within a safe environment. 

Those under 21, in particular, flocked to the location, given the lack of all-ages venues in the area. The DAAC earned its reputation for hosting everything from hardcore punk shows to performance-art pieces, film screenings and zine readings.

However, in July 2013, The DAAC was forced to vacate that location when the building was sold and the new owner decided to head in a different direction with the property.

Even without a home base, the collective regrouped and set its sights on becoming a legitimate, sustainable nonprofit while finding a new home. Fundraising efforts, including a crowdfunding campaign on RocketHub, helped the artist-run group continue to engage with the community through events like the Lamplight Music Festival and last summer’s DAAC@The Fed at Kendall College of Art and Design’s galleries.

“All the support via social media, through conversations with friends and acquaintances, and financial donations, has been a huge help and motivation to continue our search for a permanent venue,” Wolf said of the Do-It-Together (DIT) process that has led them to Rumsey Street.

“We’ve had a lot of volunteer help with moving our stuff out of a friend’s garage who let us use it for the past three years,” DAAC Board Member Charity Klein Lytle added. “We also had help getting it set up at the Rumsey location and other volunteers have helped make the building accessible and safe.”

All in all, The DAAC has 25 music events scheduled at the new space, with more to be announced online at thedaac.org. The Grand Rapids Symphony also plans to hold a Rumsey Street Bazaar and to use the building this month for concerts, art booths and a fashion show.

“Our calendar filled up fast because of the music scene’s excitement, however the building was a staple of the community before the church moved to Wyoming, Michigan, and if we are allowed to resume operating in the fall, we’d want them to have first chance to schedule events,” Klein Lytle said. “We’ll use the time that SiTE:LAB is in the space to regroup as a board and figure out what our next steps will be.”

In May The DAAC held an election to add six new board members who join Klein Lytle and Wolf in creating subcommittees focused on everything from volunteer coordination to community outreach, booking shows, workshops, marketing and other business needs. The group hosts open public meetings twice a month on the first and third Tuesdays at its Rumsey St. location through July. 

“It is really important for us to put all our energy into making the most of the space while we can,” Wolf said. “We have a responsibility to the arts and music community who have supported us through our transition. We have a responsibility to the Roosevelt Park neighborhood residents to be good neighbors and provide a welcoming space for the community to use.”

For more information, or to learn how to volunteer, visit thedaac.org.

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