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 underserved youth. DAVA's core values of inclusiveness and high-quality arts learning have driven 26 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.
In 2016, we renovated our building, which now includes a new digital media lab and fully-equipped studios. 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. DAVA programs are offered year round (Monday through Friday), with longer hours during the summer.
Over the past two years, DAVA students have been energized across programs because of new STEAM learning (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). Inspired by educational units in which they produced socially relevant projects within our community, youth are combining current issues related to technology, science and artistic production.
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 a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award 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 am becoming a leader and learning to use my voice. Being part of DAVA prepares me for the future by helping me be who I want to be. Now I am not afraid to work with others from different cultures."
-Eh Ku Moo, age 14
"I like learning things I have never heard about. The guest artists and speakers that come make us think of our future and jobs we could have. We talk about being responsible and never giving up."
-Ana, age 13
"I love the ability to make art with complete freedom. At school, it's rare that I can structure my own projects, but here I can research something like global warming and then take on a leader role for a project. I've learned to manage my time more wisely and get down to business."
-Mariana, Junior Staff, age 18