There has long been an underground DIY music and, in recent years, art scene in Akron.


Creative folks whose creations, be they audio or visual or some combination, may be considered too "outside" to be welcomed in many local venues catering to a mainstream audience.


But on Feb. 8, there will be one less creative outlet as Hive Mind, the nonprofit, volunteer-run all-ages music and arts space, will close its doors for good after four years of providing opportunities to all kinds of bands and artists.


In many cities, DIY spots close for dramatic reasons such as running afoul of city codes, dilapidated venues or angering the neighbors with noisy music and loitering young people. But the Hive Mind's story will end for much simpler and pragmatic reasons.


"Well, we're kind of tired," Maggie Duff, one of the founders, said.


Hive Mind was founded by a group of about five local artists — the exact number of participants has fluctuated — who felt there were not enough spaces in the city for creatives whose work would have a difficult time finding a home in the standard area art spaces or clubs. The group of locals, all in their late 20s to early 30s, took inspiration from some of the DIY spaces they frequented in their younger days such as the Blueberry House and Orange St.


"I think we all went to the Blueberry House," Duff said, adding that they found inspiration in it and other local spots such as the nomadic experimental music space the Noise Cave.


Hive Mind founders wanted to bring back the communal, welcoming and experimental vibe but without having to constantly sacrifice their living spaces.


"I think all of us have had bands play in our houses at some point and it gets to be a little exhausting, especially when you want your house to be a clean and cozy and private spot," Duff said. "So we were like hey, let's [start an arts spot]. There's enough of us [who] are tired of throwing house shows in our own houses."


With Duff, who is both a visual and musical artist, lobbying for a gallery component, the group found the spot at 375 W. Exchange St. The nice folks at the neighboring January Paint and Hardware agreed to let it use their parking lot after hours and the nonprofit, all-ages Hive Mind was born with the succinct motto "Hive Mind is a safe(r) space and has a zero tolerance policy for bigotry or violence of any kind."


As expected, there were plenty of area bands and artists excited to have a new spot. Hive Mind hosted scores of shows by local and traveling bands in a variety of genres from guitar-driven indie rock, to Afrobeat, to improvisational explorations, hip-hop, reggae, spoken word, experimental noise and all musical points between and outside.


It hosted art installations, community dance classes and other events relying on suggested donations of $5-$10 per person per event to help keep the (very low) lights on. But as the spot progressed, it became apparent that the city's arts and activist community needed something more.


"The original plan was music, art and whatever anyone else wants to put on," Duff said. "We ended up hosting more educational workshops and fundraisers than I expected.


"It turned out that there was a need for space that was maybe open later and that people could do workshops at that doesn’t have as much of a fee."


It also became a practice space for bands, a studio for visual artists and a private meeting place for local organizations without dedicated spaces of their own.


But, as with many labors of love, the time and effort necessary to keep it going has taken its toll on group members who all also have day jobs and lives.


"We're all volunteers and I need to put more time into my job and house and stuff and my life," Duff said. "But I think the thing I'm going to be most sad about is that some of the things we've had at the space, I just don't know. If I were to try and book them somewhere in Akron I just don’t know where I'd plug them in."


The Hive Mind's legacy in the always evolving Akron arts underground scene will be written by the folks who remember the downtown-ish DIY spot. Duff said the people behind the space have not given it much thought, but they admitted to being curious as to how Hive Mind will be remembered.


"I think everyone has a different view of and opinion of us. I feel like I've heard through the grapevine that people are like, 'Hive Mind? That's were all the weird [stuff] happens.’ So, I hope that's our legacy," Duff said, laughing.


Hive Mind has two more events before it closes for good. Pete & Maggie's Big Noise Liquidation, a blowout of local experimental bands including Duff’s band Serrated Slump — a duo with musical partner and fellow Hive Minder Pete Bach — will be held Jan. 31. Then, for the big sendoff on Feb. 8, Hive Mind's doors will open at 4 p.m. and there are already about 10 bands booked to send it out with the same accepting experimental vibe with which it opened.


Duff said they and the others aren't too worried about there not being a venue for the outsider artist scene in Akron.


"There's already a lot more venues that have popped up since we've started. ... They’re always coming and going," Duff said.


"So that's cool."


Malcolm X Abram can be reached at mabram@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3758. Like him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNgxml, and follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.