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Downtown Aurora Visual Arts

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Visual Arts

Mission: To provide high-quality, after-school programming in the aurora community and has become an anchor of free arts education for 900 urban kids (ages 3 -17) annually. Dava programs are designed to provide young people with the tools necessary to activate a new vision for community through the arts. Projects encourage youth to develop their imaginations and character, and to step up as future leaders.

Programs: Our oasis studio program is the main point of entry for young artists at dava. Oasis is a drop-in, open studio format for students after school, monday through friday. Participants, ages 7-17, choose from a variety of arts projects, including hand-built and wheel thrown clay projects, drawing, painting, sculptures, collage, and mixed media projects.

job training (jt) is for middle school students. Students are required to treat this training as a real jobshowing up on time each day, working laboratively, completing projects on time, and formally presenting their work at gallery openings.

computer art lab - on-site art lab which serves as an educational tool for middle school age youth in aforementioned job training program.

davas portable arts school (pasch) seeks to extend arts learning to a wide population of residents, especially those with little or no access to the arts. Davas traveling program brings quality art experiences to local schools and community organizations, complete with art supplies and professionally trained art teachers. Pasch is a fee-based program with the unique capability to tailor projects to meet the interests, needs, and ages of any group. The family arts program reinforces the message that families are an integral part of community cultural development, assuring that kids of all ages have access to quality arts activities. Family arts is a free on-site program that can be attended on a drop-in basis. Children (ages 3 to 6) and their parents attend twice weekly for this program designed to increase pre-literacy, creative, and motor skills in a neighborhood where most young children do not have access to preschool. Our program is designed to increase families understanding of school-readiness skills, including listening, reading, writing, colors, and numbers.

Community Stories

1 Story from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters



Rating: 5

Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAVA) helps youth succeed through the arts. DAVA promotes positive youth development through the arts. Building upon a unique collaboration with youth, it is emerging as a national model. Located one block south of East Colfax Avenue on Florence Street in Original Aurora, DAVA successfully utilizes multifaceted art programs to develop a unique approach to positive youth development, with an emphasis on social skills, personal exploration, job training and community pride. Founded as Downtown Aurora Visual Arts in 1993, DAVA serves urban youth throughout the metro Denver area. The organization’s programs engage students ages 7-17 in progressively difficult projects as their skills develop and their ability to handle responsibility grows. All five of DAVA’s programs —the OASIS Open Studio, Job Training in Studio and Computer Arts, Family Arts and the Portable Art School — are designed to reach inner-city youth and their families. On-site programs are offered year-round for free in a fully-equipped arts facility, including studios, computer art lab and a gallery. DAVA serves more than 900 youth on-site each year and reaches at least 2,000 other participants through the Portable Art School and Family Arts programs. time supervised by a qualified staff of six professionals and two studio assistants. This combination of instruction and exploration time has nurtured a strong sense of self-awareness among participants. Recent Colorado Council on the Arts testing found that 90 percent of DAVA’s Job Training program students learn things they could not do before, feel better about themselves , and 83 percent feel better about the future. More than half are setting goals, believe they are better at making decisions, resolve conflict without violence or fighting and are more likely to stand up for their personal beliefs. Youth in DAVA programs demonstrate sustained negative attitudes toward substance abuse and have lower truancy rates. DAVA’s unique programs have received a number of awards, including: · Coming up Taller Certificate of Excellence, President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, 2008 · National award for outstanding youth prevention programs, National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, 2007 · Karl E. Eitel Award for youth programs, El Pomar Foundation, 2007 · El Pomar Award for Excellence in Arts and Education, 2006 · Special recognition from the Aurora Public School Board of Education, 2007 and 2008 Executive Director Susan Jenson, MA, leads a team of six art and education professionals and two studio assistants. The organization is supported by an engaged Board of Directors consisting of a variety of professionals from across the metro Denver area.