Expression through creativity and art are experiences that are mutual across the spectrum of people around the world. The Division Avenue Arts Collective, or DAAC, is an all-ages music venue, art gallery and Do-It-Together (DIY) project incubator and promoter in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that work together as a community.
DAAC was formed by a group of innovators and inspirational Rapidians. These Rapidians, Ben Schaafsma, Emma Heemskerk, Jeff Vandenberg, and Kevin Nunn among others, created DAAC with the intent to keep it independently run, free of religious, corporate, and financial affiliation, to support the growing independent music scene in October of 2003. The organization is run as a non-profit organization that is backed by volunteers, all of whom are community members. For almost 10 years, the DAAC and their friends, neighbors, and community, have come together to host more than 1,500 shows featuring more than 4,000 performers.
“DAAC forever changed the lives of countless artists and youth who are routinely kept out of live music because of their age,” said Mike Wolf, DAAC co-owner and board member.
Over the summer, the DAAC lost its Heartside Neighborhood home that once held the music venue at 115 South Division Avenue in Grand Rapids. Since the departing from their Heartside Neighborhood dwelling place, DAAC has been in search of a new location to call home.
“Currently, we are not in any serious talks with property owners,” said Wolf.
Now, the DAAC organization board members are making a list of possible locations and they are compiling the data before they come to a decision on the new home for their venue.
With the help of his former professor, Wolf was able to come into contact with an entertainment lawyer who made the initial suggestion to partner with Fractured Atlas, who are the largest arts fiscal sponsor in the country. Fractured Atlas have been fiscally sponsored since November of 2013. Together, partnered with RocketHub, DAAC and Fractured Atlas are currently running a campaign to raise their goal of $20,000 to help pay for the security deposit, rent, permits, electrical work, paint, signage and other equipment to get their future place up to code.
Wolf doesn’t approve of how the local music scene’s inherent age restrictions can bar younger listeners from live performances and deny them experiences that other people get to.
“Youth under 21 are routinely shut out of live music all across the country,” he said. “One of the big reasons I got involved was because I saw the space as a way to have a say in my community. [DAAC is] an opportunity for the community to come together and work towards making Grand Rapids arts and culture the best it can be.”
Wolf recognizes that music is a massive part of youth culture, and DAAC creates the opportunity for live shows to feed the inspiration of young audiences without restricting their access to creatively express themselves.
“It’s a shame [that youth are turned away from other music venues] because more often than not arts and music are the things that have the power to get youth under 21 excited and motivated to create something of their own. There have been so many bands that have had their first show at the DAAC when they were teenagers.”
For more information, visit rockethub.com/projects/36801