Friday, November 4, 2022

Why DAAC Needs to Upgrade to a Mobile-friendly Web Site?

Today, a mobile-friendly website is essential simply because that is the future of the web design. Desktops are becoming less used with increased usage of smartphones. Our website must meet these demands to be accessed at any point, from any device.

What we aim to be accomplished with a web site upgrade:

·       Create a mobile-first responsive web site experience.

·       Enhance the site design to more accurately reflect a modern, interactive user experience.

·       Provide an updated content approach to keep the DAAC online presence fresh.

·       Allow for easy integration and sharing with social media.

·       Integrate a more robust, mobile-oriented calendar system for events and programs.

·       Increase traffic to the site through the improvement of search engine optimization.

·       Improve site search to allow pages and events to be found easily throughout the site

All this will make your journey through our web site seamless and provide a sense of authenticity and trust to that journey. You, the visitor, must know that you can access DAAC information at any time, and also be assured that the DAAC site is reliable, credible, and trustworthy.

The biggest reason for having a mobile-friendly website lies in its potential to increase overall successful visits and conversions. Google's algorithm prioritizes mobile-friendly websites, and in order to keep our SEO ranking high, a mobile-friendly website is crucial.


Thursday, November 3, 2022

The Loft - Decatur's Newest DIY Music Venue

On the third floor of the Decatur Area Arts Council, there’s an all-purpose space that is used for various events such as ballroom dance classes, graduation parties, Municipal Band rehearsals, and a lot more. But every so often, this space transforms into a live music venue we like to call THE LOFT. The Loft is a DIY music venue focusing on highlighting original musical artists from the Decatur area and beyond. The origins and goals of The Loft aren’t unlike many other artistic driven endeavors, but the format of The Loft’s events may come off as a bit unorthodox.

The seed idea for The Loft came after traveling around the Midwest, seeing various shows in some rather interesting places. Of course, when you travel to places and experience new things, there’s always the thought of, “Man, I wish we had this in Decatur!” That thought lingered on a bit longer than usual. There were some conversations amongst like-minded individuals in town about the prospects of starting a new venue and what that would entail. I even took my dog for a walk downtown to look at various properties just to daydream what they would look like as a space for live music. Not long after, I had that rare lightbulb moment. What about the Decatur Area Arts Council? I already operate a recording and teaching studio inside the Madden Arts Center called Zo Audio. I walk off the elevator onto the third floor nearly every day and somehow never thought to ask about the possibilities of holding shows there. After conversations with Jerry Johnson, Executive Director of the Arts Council, we got the ball rolling on our first event.

The format for The Loft might come off as a little different from a typical show you might see in establishments in the area. Our shows usually feature three acts with full PA and lights. That’s not all that different. What is different is we operate entirely off donations. Each show has a suggested donation of $10. If times are a bit hard and that’s a steep cover, give what you can. We still want you here, regardless. If you want to throw in a bit more to help support The Loft and the bands playing that evening, you’re a treasure and we love you. Another difference you may notice is we operate on BYOB rules. You can bring your own beverages! We do have a BYOB bartender on hand to keep an eye out on what you bring. We’ll tag it and set it back so you don’t have to carry around your drinks all evening. We also keep some ice, soda, and water on hand just in case. While you’re gearing up for a full night of music by the area’s finest musicians, you can also walk through the room and notice we often have physical art on display and for sale by local artists. You can pick up prints, jewelry, sculptures, paintings, and various other things depending on the night. We’ve even been known to have live painters and on-site screen printing while the bands are plowing through their sets.

The overall goal is simple. We just want more cool stuff in Decatur. As a musician and appreciator of the arts, I really wanted someone to start up something that features our deep well of talent here in Decatur and the rest of Central Illinois. With the help of friends and the support of the community, The Loft will thrive. It is a true DIY, grassroots movement. While The Loft is doing its thing, I hope it inspires others to get involved with things they want in the community or things that are already happening in the community.

The Loft is currently looking forward to booking 2023’s season. We hope to see you up here for a show soon! Come experience something just a little bit different and support the arts!

Follow The Loft on Facebook.

Braun Sheets - Director of The Loft, Events & Marketing Coordinator for Decatur Area Arts Council

Friday, October 14, 2022

The Powerful Metamorphosis of Becoming a Dancer


It’s a common misconception among the non-dancing population that one takes a class and learns to dance. Dive into the understanding of just how powerful dancing can be in your life! Read on!

All across the USA, locally owned small business dance studios provide classes, lessons and workshops teaching kids and adults how to dance in a wonderful plethora of gorgeous dance genres and styles! Wherever you might live and work, it’s guaranteed that you have a neighborhood dance studio not far from your children’s school, or your usual route to shops, parks, and downtown centers. Families with little girls, adults seeking low-impact exercise, and people of all ages looking for a new active social opportunity, they all gravitate to where they can find a local beginner-level entry point into the world of dance.

At your neighborhood dance studio, the dance instructors know deeply that while the brand new people coming through the door think they’re coming in just to learn how to dance, the deeper reality is that dance instructors lead people on a journey of self-discovery and transformation where as you learn how to dance, you’re also getting deeply in touch with your own body in ways that you’ve never before been directly led to do. Coordination deepens. Awareness of unknown muscle groups, sinews and tendons develops. Attunement to your body and it’s needs rises. Physical musicality grows.

If you’ve ever spent time taking your child to dance lessons, you’ve probably perceived the differences between yourself and the other parents compared to the dance teacher instructing the class, but you might not have had words to put to that subconscious recognition. There are parents, and then there is the Dancer.

Doctors and medical professionals recommend dancing as a low-impact exercise good for all ages. Regardless of the genre of dancing you choose to pursue, getting into dance as an activity is incredibly good fitness, great fun, and it also challenges the mind in ways that are proven to combat the mental decline and degeneration that comes with the human ageing process.

The more subtle processes, the transformation that happens as people become dancers, is often imperceptible to the new dancer until they experience a lightbulb moment.

·       Kids in Ballet or Hip Hop or Jazz develop coordination that leads to fewer broken bones throughout childhood, and their minds are challenged in dance in ways that transfer over to make them perform better in school, so their grades improve and parents and teachers take notice!

·       Adults who join a dance class notice when they drop a few pesky unwanted pounds. They also notice when their everyday mood is elevated, they sleep more deeply, and their work projects somehow seem easier and come together more effortlessly because they’ve activated their mind through dance and improved their cognitive performance.

·       Couples who start dancing together often notice a renewal, a deepening of their relationship in a new and different way than they’ve ever experienced before. The partners see one another in a new light, with new connection, with a different feeling. Partnered dancing could expose stale issues to the light or lift a couple into a new and closer way of being.

As people learn to dance, it seeps out into every corner of your life and suffuses your being with a new WAY of being. Bodies that previously suffered and ached from neglect and lack of care become valuable and powerful vessels to contain your new conscious ownership and care of your physical form. Dancers learn to love their bodies as they learn steps and moves. Dancers develop necessary habits and practices of self-care to keep their bodies, their joints, their muscles, and their feet, fit and ready to dance and move.

Learning to dance is far more than just learning some steps.

Somewhere in the new dancers’ process of lessons or classes, they’ll prick up their ears to some music playing and possibly realize consciously that through their dance class, they’ve learned how to pick the beat and rhythm out of the music they hear, and now suddenly they’re hearing it everywhere! Via learning dance, they’re also learning musicality.

Sometime in a couple’s progress through a class together, they may realize they suddenly have something new to talk about, laugh about, and connect about, rather than the same old stale daily grind conversations about work, kids, bills and the same-old thing. This new thing is theirs, together, something they do, but also a new container, a new place and stage for their relationship.

Adults who start dancing soon find themselves surrounded with a wholly new grouping of friends, acquaintances, dance partners and social activities that gets them out of the house and DOING in ways that shines a light on their previous isolation, and they realize how just-not-good-enough that previous way of life really was.

Learning to dance is a metamorphosis process – People become Dancers!

If you’ve ever met a dancer, you know the way they move through life is just… different. The way they walk, their posture, the way they hold themselves and carry themselves, you can SEE that they must be a dancer. It shows in every aspect of their being and you notice their tuned-in ownership and control of their physical body, their attunement to the sounds and music around them, their ability to engage and connect with you somehow more deeply, and less superficially, than everyone else that you know. You can perceive that they somehow think and function differently. Dancers walk through life… like dancers.

The process of getting from Average Joe to Dancer, the gradual transformation you can experience, these subtle shifts happen imperceptibly within you at first when you’ve only had just a class or two. But just give it time. Your own process of becoming a dancer happens at your own unique pace. Dance instructors can watch in any given class and see the different pace of acclimation from one person to the next, seeing some people take to it easily and eagerly with wide open eyes and minds, while some others demonstrate fear and apprehension about every new step.

If you can look at the process of learning dance, not just as learning dance, but as a whole-being transformation journey taking you from where, and who you are right now, into a new existence as a dancer who is tuned in and empowered in your physical being and ignited in your active living mind and spirit. You have the power to engage in owning your process and your transformation with ease and grace.