Voices to move into former Central Avenue business

A former paint store in Dubuque will soon become the new headquarters of a local arts organization.

Officials from Voices Productions, a local nonprofit, have announced plans to open their new permanent facility, Voices Studios, at 1585 Central Ave. The location will include an art gallery, framing store and bar, along with a variety of art programs.

The 10,000-square-foot facility will allow the organization to hold a variety of art-centered events, including gallery shows and performances, along with serving as the hub for a planned art residency program.

“We wanted a permanent home for Voices,” said Gene Tully, president of the organization. “We’re looking to make a place for emerging artists to show their work and engage the community in the arts.”

The new Voices facility was formerly home to the Diamond Vogel paint store, which closed early in 2020.

Since its founding in 2005, Voices Productions has worked to promote the arts through various projects and programs. From 2005 to 2015, the organization maintained a sizable gallery space in the Millwork District and hosted the annual Voices From the Warehouse District festival. In 2016, the organization started a program to paint murals on buildings throughout Dubuque and Dubuque County.

Tully said the new Central Avenue location marks Voices Productions’ third major endeavor to expand the presence of the arts in Dubuque.

The facility will feature two art galleries showcasing both local and out-of-town artists, as well as a framing shop, a sculpture garden and an “art bar,” though Tully noted that the bar will not maintain regular hours of operation.

Organization leaders also will offer a new residency program, for which they plan to invite out-of-town artists to work on their pieces at the Dubuque facility while relying on community members to provide lodging. At the end of their stay, the artists would give a public presentation showing their finished pieces.

Tully said he intends to have the community engage with the new facility in numerous ways, such as contributing their own works to art galleries and volunteering to organize local events.

“We’re going to involve the community through friendship and mutual interests,” Tully said. “We want everyone in the community to be involved.”

Tully said Voices Productions is conducting extensive renovations to the building, but he hopes to see it open to the public this fall.

The organization is currently looking to raise $450,000 to make the new facility compliant with the American with Disabilities Act, including installing a ramp and accessible bathrooms, he said.

Jenni Petersen-Brant, arts and cultural affairs coordinator for the City of Dubuque, said the project holds great potential to engage the neighborhoods around Central Avenue.

“I think it’s a great space for an arts organization,” she said. “They are thinking about it as using arts as a tool to bring the community together.”

Gary Stoppelman, executive director of the Dubuque Museum of Art, said he thinks the new facility will continue the significant work Voices Productions has done to expand the presence of art in Dubuque.

“They are really doing a tremendous job of adding to the vibrancy of this city,” he said. “I’m excited to see what this project does to bring in new voices.”