By: Amy Noe Dudas
DIVA formed in July of 2017 as an Indiana nonprofit corporation and received 501(c)(3) approval from the Internal Revenue Service within just a few weeks. We have been researching and exploring ways to secure funding for the major renovations needed to the building on the 700 block of East Main Street here in Richmond where DIVA will operate in donated space. The owner (Dudas Properties, LLC) has removed a tenant in preparation for Phase 1 of DIVA offerings (in a temporary space on the ground floor), and that space is currently being minimally updated (checking the plumbing, turning on water, etc.) in order that DIVA can start having events as soon as possible. The plan, in the long run, is to renovate the building to include an elevator and a total remodel of the third floor which will be DIVA’s permanent performance/exhibit space, with spaces on the ground floor used for maker space, archive room, and storage.
All that could take a year or more, but DIVA doesn’t want to wait! So we’ll start with the basics and hope our events will bring people downtown to create and experience art on a regular basis. We already have some projects in the works. Let me tell you about them.
First – we were absolutely honored to have been awarded a grant from the Wayne County Foundation’s Women’s Fund in order to create Broad Shoulders: A Herstory, a storytelling workshop for women and girls. We will bring in a storyteller from Indianapolis (Celestine Bloomfield) who will perform for our workshop attendees and then show them how it’s done in a comprehensive interactive session. The workshop attendees will then have the opportunity, at a later event, to perform as storytellers themselves for an audience. Look for more information about that in the near future!
Second – we are in the process of seeking another grant to put our improv troupe through training with Earlham theater professor and Equity actress Lynne Perkins Socey. Once these fine volunteers are all trained up, our troupe of actors will be ready to provide regular performances for eager audiences who will come downtown, have a meal or a drink, and perhaps buy something from one of our neighbors. It is our hope to bring increased traffic to Richmond’s growing downtown and be a part of this exciting community.
Third – we continue to send messages out on social media about our concept and (soon) our activities. Please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel. You may also subscribe to this blog. And be sure to share us with your friends!
Finally – we need stuff. Right now, we have a donated empty space in which to hold our first storytelling workshop. We have a few ongoing expenses, like our web domain and e-mail account and the occasional script to preview possible future DIVA productions (anyone up for an evening of 10-minute plays?). Now, we are raising funds to get tables at which our workshop attendees may sit, and chairs which they will sit on! We need a few theatrical-style lights (we’re looking at source fours, for those wanting to get technical) to start and some light trees on which to hang them. We could use a portable PA system and perhaps some music stands for the small musical ensembles that are already considering what they would like to play for you downtown at DIVA. We might like our very own digital piano that would be available for anyone’s use. There’s a whole list of stuff DIVA could use, and we’re working hard to gain the community’s confidence that our mission will benefit everyone who lives here by bringing more art downtown and making it accessible to anyone who wants to create it or experience it.
Please continue to share our information and ideas and reach out with your own thoughts of how we can foster an inclusive collaborative environment of inspiration and creation.