As Harlem continues to shift into a new era, plans are slated to renovate a local firehouse on 120 East 125th Street to serve as the new home for the historic East Harlem Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI). To celebrate CCCADI’s next chapter in its existence in the community since 1976, the institute will host its First Annual Spring Gala in Harlem’s historic Alhambra Ballroom on April 25, 2015.
Long established as a major cultural force in the community, the CCCADI gala will take participants back in time to the big band era of the 1950’s featuring entertainment by the acclaimed Mambo Legends Orchestra in celebration of Graciela, known as the first lady of Latin Song with guest artist vocalist Cita Rodriguez who will present a special evening’s tribute to Graciela.
The center’s gala also honors the contributions of several highly esteemed community members including:
Lorraine Cortes Vazquez, vice president of Multi-Cultural Markets and Engagement at AARP; Eugene Giscombe, president and chief executive of The Giscombe Realty Group in Harlem; Mario Baeza, Esq. founder, Baeza & Co. and chairman, TCW/Latin America Partners, L.L.C.; Lucky Rivera, community organizer and founder of Positive Workforce in El Barrio.
CCCADI’s Impacts Cultural Landscape
While Harlem continues to experience an ever expanding demographic shift, the CCCADI has maintained a foundation which honors the artistic, intellectual and cultural brilliance of the African Diaspora. Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, president and founder of CCCADI, has worked to spearhead programming, which produces culturally-grounded, purpose-driven and activist-oriented works. For nearly four decades, CCCADI’s history has proven the center to be an incubator and springboard for artistic and intellectual brilliance, community-building initiatives and cutting-edge academic works presented in engaging ways.
Over the decades, CCCADI has presented transcendent talent including: Celia Cruz, Max Roach, Amiri Baraka, Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Cassandra Wilson, Hugh Masekela and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. In addition, CCCADI has hosted international gatherings and curated countless groundbreaking shows, such as Transforming the Crown: African, Asian and Caribbean Artists in Britain, 1966-1996 (1996), which amassed more than 100 works into an exhibition that was simultaneously on-view at CCCADI, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and The Bronx Museum of the Arts. The landmark exhibition became a model for institutional collaboration.
And now, for the next chapter of the institute’s direction, is the move to the renovated firehouse at 120 E. 125th Street in El Barrio. Renovations will begin April, 2015 and expected to end in late 2016.
“We’ve established a solid footprint in the community,” says Moreno Vega. “This move places us strategically amidst the communities we serve and extends the rich cultural throughway of 125th Street eastward. Our forthcoming gala celebrates our forward move…it will centralize the programs in the heart of the community.”
The gala in April celebrates 39 years of serving the community and expects to fill the Alhambra ballroom with nearly 300 supporters, community members, those from well-established Caribbean and Latino families as well as philanthropists, corporate and financial executives, educators and young professionals. Proceeds from the event will start CCCADI’s new chapter for its move to the state of the art renovated firehouse. It is the start of a new phase which will further solidify CCCADI as a major cultural landscape stakeholder.
“Crafting a momentous symbolic bridge, this new location will allow CCCADI to connect the African and African American communities of West and Central Harlem with the Latino populations historically residing east of 5th Avenue,” notes Moreno Vega. “Our gala promises an array of sharing, celebration and source of energy for the next leg of our journey.”