Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAVA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the community through the arts, with a primary focus on youth engagement. We are the proud recipients of a 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.
DAVA was established in 1993 for the purpose of developing the arts as a positive social force, especially for at-risk youth. DAVA's core values of inclusiveness and high-quality arts learning have driven 24 years of youth expression seen as a valuable resource within our community.
DAVA offers a supportive, creative environment for kids ages 3-17 to engage in three core art programs: Family Arts, a pre-school program for ages 3-6 and parents; the Open Studio, a drop-in, experimental space for elementary students after school; and middle school Job Training in the Arts and Technology programs that address the key developmental years between the ages of 11-14 through more advanced arts learning and community involvement. All youth participate in DAVA's Gallery exhibitions, which are open to the entire community. Outreach to underserved organizations and schools is extended through our traveling Portable Art School.
Our teaching staff is experienced in combining technology and fine art. DAVA's new Computer Art Lab offers increased access to the most up-to-date computers and software. In 2015, DAVA completely renovated the building we have occupied since 1993. The transformation of our facility has increased our capacity to integrate arts and technology and created one of the premiere community arts facilities in the region. Programs are offered year round (Monday through Friday), with longer hours during the summer.
Over the next two years, DAVA is planning a dramatic addition to current programming by increasing at-risk youths' exposure and engagement in exciting science learning. Adding a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) emphasis puts our participants on a positive trajectory towards higher education, STEM careers, and driving positive societal impact. Our core emphasis on arts learning serves as a foundation for additional opportunities for youth and a fertile ground for growth.
What continues to set DAVA apart?
* National award-winning programs developed around the belief that the arts can increase opportunities for urban youth through a combination of arts learning and positive youth development. In 2014, we received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award (NAHYP) for using engagement in the arts to increase academic achievement, graduation rates and college enrollment.
* Challenging year-round project cycles that annually engage thousands of local youth ages 3 to 17 who use the arts to examine the environment, social change, and their community. Free programs are open to all kids, 48 weeks of the year.
* Cutting-edge curriculum built around issues that are relevant and meaningful to kids in our multi-cultural community. Youth inspire and inform the direction and themes of our work.
* Programs foster the development of valuable skills that are critical to achieving success in work and life in the 21st century.
* Evaluation that demonstrates the successful outcomes of our programs.
"I have learned so many skills at DAVA, and I feel prepared for a future in technology. I am able to find and solve problems and manage my time very effectively. All of my experiences at DAVA have made me a better person." - Boris, Junior Staff, age 16
"Job Training gives me experiences and tools I wouldn't have gotten at school. I am learning about mindfulness and process and making projects that help others." - Leah, age 13
"I am learning to be confident as a leader. Now I am a person that helps others, not just myself. There are so many ways I can give back to my community." -- Mariana, Junior Staff, age 16