DAC is Developing into Something Pretty Amazing!

Developing Artists Collaborative at West Side Creative Market

It started modestly in an open parking lot sandwiched in between Tomato Sunshine and the Ocean Boulevard furniture store in West Rehoboth. The Developing Artist Collaboration’s West Side Creative Market has evolved into a physical structure that is a bustling gathering place where artists, crafts people, musicians, tourists, and locals celebrate the arts on Monday and Friday evenings (5-9pm) during the summer and now through September.  

Organizers of the Developing Artist Collaboration (DAC) share it is not an “arts organization” but an “Artist First Movement”. It was founded by Leah Beach (of Dewey Beach) “to help artists nurture their passions.” Its purpose is to provide artists with career developments, peer connection, and physical spaces “to build elevated creative lifestyles”.  

Beach started DAC when she was 25 years old. “My biggest thrill is seeing it thrive after so many years of hard work,” she said. “I have learned a lot of hard lessons over the past seven years. I am forever grateful to be surrounded by so many people. They have stuck it out and have been committed to building this organization by my side. I’m excited to see where it all goes.”  

Leah Beach, founder

Any artist or would be artist can join DAC free regardless of skills, medium or accomplishments.

DAC relies on revenue driven from their programming like through their Creative Market Bar as well as their Out of the Box DIY program along with grant, corporate sponsorship, and individual giving to support their organization and staff.

The West Side Creative Market is not a juried event, but DAC requires artists to have handmade work or original concepts. A “typical mix” could be Fabiola’s glass wear, jewelry by Tonya or handmade organic balms and bug sprays by Alni /Vegan Body Care.  

DAC Marketing Director, Pat Gallagher says the group has about 525 artists registered in their “Artist Hub”, a DAC registration list.   

Artists can sign up for any number of Markets. Most choose a few dates that work for them, sometimes adding later. “At any given market you may see somebody that was there at the last market, but also many you’ve never seen, it’s a nice balance,” he said. The Creative Market also features live music, food trucks, a bar, an area where kids can dabble with paint and even a magician named Jack Noel.  

Gallagher says DAC wants Creative Market to become more of a year-round space and have made it available for other organizations, businesses, and private parties while hosting their own fall events such as movie nights, yoga mornings, and more. They want to attract more artists from outside the immediate area. “it’s about finding the right people to partner with to make it happen,” he says.  

Founder, Leah Beach also is focusing more on the core of the mission, which is Artist Development and Artist driven community partnerships, and on “building a sustainable foundation so DAC can scale in a manageable way in the future.”  

Tonya Perri took one of the Artist Development classes because she was moving to Delaware and wanted a fresh look for her business with a new website. “I learned how to build my own website, social media marketing, and also business tips and resources,” she said. 

DAC gives back to West Rehoboth, the long-established African American neighborhood of Rehoboth and partnered with local artist Terrance Vann to create a mural depicting some of the history of the community.  

Check the website for a full description of DAC events and programs.  

By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist

Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Oprah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland.

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