Welcome to the Durango Arts Center!
DAC is a multi-faceted hub for community arts that hosts and promotes contemporary visual and performing arts, arts education, dynamics exhibits, an active Docent program and the annual Durango Autumn Arts Festival. Over the years, DAC has built its reputation as a local arts industry leader and has been working diligently to ensure that the arts continue to thrive in the Four Corners region and beyond.
The Durango Arts Center enriches the community through innovative visual and performing art, and arts education. DAC advances appreciation and participation in the arts as a cultural leader in the region.
The Durango Arts Center strives to be a cultural destination and a creative catalyst, inspiring our community through engagement in the arts.
Since the late 1960s, the Durango Arts Center (DAC) has worked to promote the exploration, education, enrichment and enjoyment of the arts as a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization. What is affectionately known throughout the Four Corners as “DAC,” the Arts Center actually has a founding history rich in the support and development of the arts in this region that reaches back several decades. DAC in current day is the result of a confluence of two agencies – the Durango Fine Arts Council (DFAC) and the Durango Artists Association (DAA) – both created in the 1960’s to develop and promote regional activity and interest in the arts.
From 2010-12, regional nonprofit arts and cultural organizations participated in an extensive nationwide study under the Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit for advancing the arts and arts education. The resulting published document, Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, concluded that La Plata County nonprofit cultural nonprofits generate $9,053,126 in annual economic activity in the Durango area—supporting 309 full-time equivalent jobs and delivering $645,000 in local and state government revenues. DAC is a major contributor to the sector, having paid $163,146 in commissions and stipends to artists, performing artists and presenters in 2015 alone. Read more about DAC’s economic impact in our 2015 Year-End Review.
DAC offers year-round education programs in the visual and performing arts, featuring classes, family art camps, Saturday workshops and open studios for teens, adults and children as young as two years of age. Whether engaging with professional artists in the DAC Education Studio or reaching out to local schools to strengthen arts in the classroom, DAC aspires to cultivate creativity in learners of all ages and abilities. Family Gallery Activity Guide: learn about art and experience DAC exhibits. Art Parties for Kids & Adults: Whatever your interest – painting, ceramics, printmaking or sculpture, we have an art party for you! DAC Docent Program: an all volunteer group that offers tours of gallery exhibits for adults and children and the Art in the School Program for elementary school children and other groups in the community. DAC also offers docent-led gallery tours and docent-led hands-on art activities for school groups.
Performing Arts & Theatre
DAC Theater strives to offer entertaining, professional and quality theater to Durango and surrounding communities. We aim to excite our audiences with old favorites and challenge them with new and non-traditional works. DAC Theatre is committed to fostering a collaborative spirit by inviting local theater artists and other companies to join our artistic community through auditions, theater rentals, guest artist opportunities, production assistance and many other ways. DAC strives to join the forces of creativity, collaboration and community. This outlet for self-expression fosters a community with more vibrant, healthy and active citizens.
DAC hosts year-round exhibits in the Barbara Conrad Gallery featuring local, national and internationally recognized artists. Supporting a practice of diversifying the visitor’s experience, each DAC exhibit includes special events such as lectures, artist demonstrations and film screenings. Upstairs you will find the Art Library, sponsored by Friends of the Art Library (FOAL), that hosts six exhibits each year featuring local and national artists of diverse mediums. DAC offers an online members Artists’ Directory and On-line Exhibits featuring local and national artists. Artists can become DAC members from anywhere in the world and reap the benefits.
Durango Autumn Arts Festival
For over 20 years, the Durango Autumn Arts Festival occurs every autumn on East 2nd Avenue in historic downtown Durango. A favorite in Southwest Colorado, the festival is a well-loved and attended community event, known for the quality of fine art and fine craft and a friendly atmosphere for both its artists and its guests. With Durango’s spectacular La Plata Mountain backdrop and changing fall colors to compliment the event, the festival attracts more than 7500 seasonal and year round residents and tourists. The festival showcases an average of 90 fine artists and fine craftspeople from around the country, as well as local musicians and performers from the 2nd Avenue Stage. A Creation Station offers art activities for youths and adults. A variety of local artisanal food and beverages are available as well. Admission is free!
10-Minute Play Celebration
The culminating event in DAC’s annual 10-Minute Play Celebration, this festival has become one of Durango’s favorite theatre events. Featuring winners and finalists of the DAC 10-Minute Play Contest, this fast-paced theatre evening offers a grab-bag of comedy and drama. Not to be missed!
Fast Facts About Your Community Arts Center
The Durango Arts Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that owns and operates its facility, covering a mortgage, all repairs, cleaning and utilities for public use. DAC does not receive any public funding from the City of Durango or La Plata County. The annual budget for programs, salaries and the facility must be generated from fundraising efforts of board and staff, as well as the earned revenues of our ticket sales, workshop fees, artwork sales and special events. DAC is grateful for its community of supporters who sustain community arts.
DAC is proud to serve upwards of 30,000 patrons and participants in our programs and events each year.
In 2016, DAC hosted 87 community events, including exhibit receptions, theatre performances, artist lectures, film screenings and fundraisers. DAC provided 153 unique art workshops, camps and classes that enrolled 1,300 art students ages 3+ and, thanks to generous donor and foundation support, DAC disbursed $17,333 in need-based scholarship aid. The theatre program entertained 5,165 patrons with a dynamic season of dramatic, comedic and youth productions. Over 500 artists were represented in exhibits, featured in theatre performances and the Durango Autumn Arts Festival, and supported through DAC MicroGrants and residencies.
Over the course of DAC’s 40+ year history as a nonprofit, we have received enthusiastic recognition for contributions to the community and program content and quality, including “Non-Profit of the Year” delivered by the Chamber of Commerce in 2012, and the 2013 Durango Herald Reader’s Choice award for “Best Live Theatre.”
DAC depends on a variety of income sources to successfully meet its annual operating budget, including membership, corporate sponsorships, foundation grants and individual donations. Please note that DAC maintains an informal membership program, whereby annual contributions allow individuals and businesses certain benefits associated with access to DAC programs and events. DAC does not offer a formal membership program that affords members access or voting rights on matters of governance. The Board of Directors remains the governing body of the organization.