The South Bronx-based arts community center Rebel Diaz Arts Collective was reportedly shut down yesterday and locked out of their converted warehouse space. A rally/press conference is being held tonight at 6 pm outside their building at 478 Austin Place in the South Bronx.
According to a statement from Rebel Diaz, their landlord, Austin Property Corp., had been slow to negotiate with the arts collective since the expiration of their original lease in November of last year, and that “despite diverse support for RDACBX from local politicians, churches and community organizations in the area, Austin Property Corp. eventually refused to renew the lease, citing concerns about the group’s political murals, and prompting the surprise eviction yesterday.” According to DNAInfo, Austin Property Corp. had demanded a $1,000 increase in their rent at the time of the lease’s renewal, and an attorney for the landlord cited the six months of unpaid rent and the graffiti as reasons for the eviction.
Video on Rebel Diaz Arts Collective
Rodrigo Venegas (also known as RodStarz), one half of the hip hop duo (formerly a trio) Rebel Diaz that founded the arts center, said in the statement: “The violent actions taken yesterday are an attack on young people, artists, and Hip Hop culture. In a time where budget cuts, stop and frisk, and gentrification are affecting our communities, it’s a shame we are being treated like criminals. There is no justification for this eviction.”
The abandoned former candy factory in the Bronx was revived by Rebel Diaz with a performance space, media lab, studio, and gallery, and hosted weekly workshops, hip hop performances, and gatherings for the local community. They opened in 2009 and have hosted events like the Boogie Mics series, the hip hop festival South by South Bronx, and earlier this year they announced the formation of a library for kids in the neighborhood interested in music. While the political graffiti on the outside of the building may have been new, street art has long been a part of the Rebel Diaz building (here’s Vandalog’s photographs of the graffiti art on the roof). Claudia De La Cruz, another member of the Rebel Diaz collective, said in the statement: “Despite the violent removal of RDACBX from its space, RDACBX will continue to work on its development, as it strives to be a resource for the community. There is a need for this organization to exist in the South Bronx.”
Hyperallergic attempted to reach out to the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective but our calls and messages were not returned at the time of publication.