Every community needs art to make it a community. Every community also needs a place for people to gather, and belong.
The closest thing Tucson has to this is the Downtown Performance Center. Tucked away on the edge of downtown, the DPC has become a haven for punk and non-mainstream bands, and the often underage crowds that accompany them.
Recently the Arizona Department of Transportation, which is located in Phoenix and owns the building, decided to terminate the DPC's lease, citing structural and asbestos problems.
After Tucson showed support for the underground club, ADOT decided to make its building inspection before the DPC was evicted, in case the building was satisfactory.
Tucson City Councilwoman Molly McKasson has volunteered her support for the DPC in case repairs are needed. She has promised to look for ways to help out financially, to keep the DPC open.
We hope the DPC passes inspection, and will remain open. We are also depending on McKasson to fight if funds are necessary.
The DPC is important to Tucson on a variety of levels. It provides local and touring punk groups with a venue, and does give underage kids a place to go on concert nights.
The blazing murals on the outside of the building contribute public art, if one happens to look to the left, driving down Stone Avenue. The fact that these gigantic artworks are even made is important. The fact that the DPC exists at all is important.
It is vital for a community to have a meeting space that incorporates the arts. As a concept, such a center would encourage creativity and a sense of community among artists and the public. It would give people an outlet for their anger, emotions and need to create.
DPC Director Steven Eye says the space serves all types of artists, and is a refuge for underage kids. This is partly true. Visual artists are able to put up shows. However, it is predominantly a place for underground bands to perform. It is known in Tucson as an all-ages club, and that is the role it serves most diligently.
The job of making the DPC a realized community venture rests on many shoulders. The DPC organizers must make their center a place that lives up to its mission by actively recruiting and making the space amenable to all arts, not just live rock music.
Tucson artists must contribute too, by using the DPC as a viable venue and making it a place that reflects the community.
The public has the duty of supporting Eye and his group, through public support and interest.The DPC does not currently appeal to or serve the Tucson community at large, but it will take community interest to make it fulfill that goal. One group cannot do it alone.
And if the DPC does need financial help to keep it open, the City Council must take action and encourage a vision that could become great.
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