The Fields Corner-based gallery, workshop, and performance venue Dorchester Art Project (DAP) announced plans to expand last week after securing a lease for an adjoining 6,400-square-foot space at 1490 Dorchester Ave.
The bi-level ground floor/basement property, which formerly housed a grocery store and fish market but has been vacant for years, will likely become home to a storefront selling things like t-shirts, guitar strings, and artwork, said programming director Sam Potrykus.
Another chunk of the property could hold an art workshop and co-working space that would be rented at a low day rate, while the back portion of the space, which sits directly beneath the current DAP stage, will likely become another performance venue and dance floor.
Further square footage below in the basement has potential for a recording studio and rehearsal spaces.
“It’ll basically be what we have but in a bigger space that’s on the first floor and is wheelchair-accessible,” explained Potrykus. “It’s all the stuff we’re already successful with –giving artists space at an affordable rate, providing high quality services, and prioritizing people from Dorchester at the same time.”
DAP has established itself as a cultural epicenter in recent years, hosting regular art exhibitions and concerts and helping a diverse collective of artists flourish in their own studio space.
Potrykus said the expansion is ultimately about “increasing the sustainability” of the organization. By growing the project, Potrykus, a Jamaica Plain resident, and DAP leadership hope to create salaried positions and eventually hand off stewardship of DAP to folks from the neighborhood.
“That’s the only thing that’s missing from DAP. We’re doing great work, but we’re run by all these part-time creative workforce hustlers, instead of creating full-time jobs and taking care of people in a more sustainable long-term way,” said Potrykus. “This is an effort towards that — we’re gonna use this opportunity to move towards sustainability.”
For now, DAP volunteers have their work cut out for them; Potrykus already has community members signing up to clean and remodel the space in the coming weeks. While the entire renovation process likely won’t be finished until several months from now, DAP is aiming to open its storefront by Oct. 1.