Mott Haven — On the first Friday of every month, the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective holds a hip-hop open mic night at their loft in the South Bronx. Last Friday, the event went on as usual but for one small detail—it happened outside.
A few days earlier, the collective was evicted from the abandoned factory on Austin Place they had turned into a community centre. To its 25 members, the removal of the collective is an attack on the community, but the landlord says it’s a dispute over rent and vandalism. Now supporters are rallying to help the collective make future plans.
“It’s kind of a gift and a curse,” says John Mega, a member of the collective and host of the open mic night, “RDAC is about the people who made it what it is.”
The RDAC (pronounced r-dack) provided free media training and performance opportunities for youth in the Mott Haven and Hunts Point neighborhoods of the Bronx. It has helped people like Karen Louvriere. 19, who first joined the collective to learn about spoken word and photography and ended up joining an RDAC committee for public outreach.
“I went to our community board meeting for the first time and I liked that experience.” She started working in the neighborhood, talking to other kids about the space and helping with a youth employment program. Louvriere is studying liberal arts at the New School and now hopes to start her own grassroots community center.
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