The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Local performing arts venue facing closure

GVL/ Annabelle Robinson

The Division Avenue Arts Collective (DAAC) is a non-profit located in Grand Rapids that has provided local artists an outlet to showcase their talents for the past twenty years. However, recent challenges may prevent the organization from staying open. 

The DAAC is a volunteer-run music venue, art gallery and “creative incubator” for people of all ages to showcase their talents. The space caters to artists who are just beginning their creative journey, the DAAC has served as a safe space for people to express themselves. 

On Sept. 1, the DAAC issued a statement about its current operation model and volunteer needs that would allow the venue to keep its doors open. 

“The DAAC will stop existing if we can’t find a better way forward,” the open letter said to the community. 

The DAAC held a public meeting on Sept. 17 to address the statement, where they put out a call to action within the community. The meeting also discussed the needs of the DAAC in order to keep their facility from closing down.

Lorenzo Aguayo, one of the core committee volunteers of the DAAC, helps with fundraising and grants for the non-profit. Aguayo helped promote the DAAC’s call to action and said people are signing up to volunteer as a response. Aguayo said even with this engagement, DAAC needs more help.  

“I’m hopeful for everything here,” Aguayo said. “Everything’s not perfect yet, but the community answered our call and we’re very appreciative (of) that.”

The DAAC’s primary need is volunteers, as the venue is a non-profit organization. For all of those involved, Aguayo describes the work they do as a “passion project” that exists alongside their full-time careers. The DAAC encourages the community to come out and volunteer alongside them to help make local artists’ goals come to life.  

“We can make your dreams a reality,” Aguayo said. “(However), it takes a high level of commitment and time to do that.”    

The DAAC often serves as a performer’s first show or an artist’s first gallery. If the venue were to close, the Grand Rapids community would lose one of its only free, all-ages creative spaces.

“I cannot recommend the DAAC enough,” said Anthony Erlandson, a student and aspiring musician at Grand Valley State University. “They’ve truly been one of the best resources I could ever have as a small artist.”

Aguayo said the DAAC would love to see GVSU students involved in the organization through performances, showcases or volunteer positions. He said there is something for everyone.

“I see a great opportunity for students,” Aguayo said. “I don’t think we should ignore that (the opportunity) at all.” 

Aguayo is looking forward to working with Whale Radio, GVSU’s student-run radio station, which will be holding a benefit show for the DAAC on Dec. 2. The benefit show will host the radio station’s programming, a live performance from Erlandson and more. All of the money raised will go directly towards the DAAC. More information will be announced closer to the event day.

Aguayo said the show will provide GVSU students the chance to play music in a different venue and that he is excited about the partnership. 

Erlandson, also the promotions director of Whale Radio, agrees. They said the benefit show will give students a place to show their creativity while helping out the venue. 

“I’m super excited for the show because I really want to give back to them (the DAAC), and I’m also looking forward to performing (alongside) other students,” Erlandson said.

The DAAC continues to encourage students and community members to volunteer in order to save the venue and keep opportunities open for musicians and artists who want to get involved. 

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