Saturday, March 2, 2013

What the Bronx Lost When the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective Was Evicted

Three weeks ago, I was asked by one of the best young elementary school teachers I know, someone with a long history of doing multimedia arts projects with her students, if I could find her someone to work with her on a sound track she was creating for a student presentation on gun violence in America. She had the lyrics and the choreography set, she just needed someone to create the beats, and then have the students sing over them. After thinking long and hard, I directed her to DJ Charlie Hustle, one of the top DJ's in the Rebel Dias Arts Collective, and also a former student. Charlie responded enthusiastically, and then last week, she took her students down to the Arts Collective Studios, where they spend several hours recording the track, which they will use in their performance sometime next week. Nothing was charged for the beat making, or the studio time. This was donated as a community service by RDAX, which sees one of its major roles as giving Bronx youth access to first rate studio equipment while teaching them the technical expertist to create music with it. ********Less than a week after these students recorded their track, marshalls and the NYPD smashed down the door of the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, removed the people staying there, threw much of its equipment into the street, and put new locks on the doors. In the process, it's state of the art recording studio was totally destroyed.This was done at the break of dawn, with no prior warning. Did local elected officials know about this? Did they approve the action? At this point no one knows, but one thing is clear. A precious resource to the youth of the Bronx, one which not only gave them an outlet for artistic expression, but which taught them the technical skills that underlay the producing and preservation of art, was destroyed. *********That this took place in an arts starved community, with only a small number of arts programs in the local schools, and with no after school programs or night centers which offer the access to state of the art recording equipment and performance opportunities that the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective did, makes the indifference of local officials to this eviction near criminal. *********In coming months, the burden will fall on the elected leaders of the Bronx, from the Borough President on down, to vind alternate space for the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, and to give them the funding for their destroyed equipment, so that they can once again provide the gift of artistic expression to Bronx youth, and empower the teachers and community organizers who work with them *********From the mambo and jazz era of the 40's, through the rise of doo wop funk and salsa in the 50's and 60's, to the dawn of hip hop in the 70's and 80's, to the hip life and bachata of today brought by the Bronx's new immigrants, the arts have been the lifeblood of Bronx neighborhoods and a particular inspiration to Bronx youth. The Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, which keeps that tradition alive, deserves the full support of everyone who loves the Bronx and believes in its future!

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