A group of South Bronx artists say they’re rising from the ashes after being evicted from their community center in February, as the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective has found a temporary new home. NY1’s Erin Clarke filed the following report.
The Bronx Music Heritage Center took in the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective after the group found itself without a home.
“This is a victory for hip hop in the South Bronx,” said Rodrigo “Rod Starz” Venegas, co-founder of the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective.
RDACBX was evicted from a converted factory space turned hip hop community center in Mott Haven two months ago.
A lawyer for their former landlord said the group hadn’t paid rent for several months. The group said the landlord wanted to practically double the rent on their loft, and also objected when they painted political messages on the side of the building.
“I feel like they thought that the work we were doing was a threat to the community,” Venegas said.
But RDACBX said it’s done the exact opposite. In its four years, the group held open mic nights and provided music and media workshops for young people and more.
“A lot of people from the Bronx don’t get to leave the Bronx, don’t get to have these new experiences,” said YC the Cynic, an arts collective member. “I’ve been able to travel, travel the country with the group.”
They saw their eviction as just a stumbling block. It wasn’t long before that they were accepted for a four-month stay as resident artists at the Bronx Music Heritage Center. And Rebel Diaz seemed the perfect fit for the BMHC’s lab because the two groups’ missions coincide.
“It’s not just creating and promoting themselves,” said Chris Nieves, director of cultural programs of the Bronx Music Heritage Center. “They want to give it back to the community. They want to work with the community. They’re into awareness and the history and the music, and not just performing, but teaching.”
BMHC is committed to nurturing local artists, preserving and promoting Bronx music, while reviving the neighborhoods where it all started.
“This area right here was a hotbed of music,” said musician Bobby Sanabria. “You had places like the Royal Mansion, the 845, which featured jazz, the Hunts Point Palace, and many, many other great venues. And that all went away with the burning of the South Bronx.”
RDACBX members said theyare looking forward to bring change to a new neighborhood, and they hope that when they leave the lab in four months, it will be for a new permanent home.