Cyphers: The Center for Urban Arts Moves Into Phoenix Center for the Arts
The folks at Phoenix Center for the Arts has a new tenant, and it's one that should give the institution an extra bit of street cred. Cyphers: The Center for Urban Arts, which offers classes and workshops on hip-hop culture and street-level art forms to both youth and adults, recently moved to the Central Phoenix arts haven.
Benjamin Leatherman DJs LES735 (far left) and Akshen (far right) spin at Cyphers' grand reopening at Phoenix Center for the Arts during First Friday in May.
According to Cyphers co-founder Danny "Scooby" Morales, the community organization and arts studio packed up its spray paint and turntables and relocated to PCA from its original North Phoenix home near Metrocenter Mall in April.
See also: Big Brain 2012 Finalist - Cyphers
Morales says Cyphers, which is now based out of the center at Third and Moreland streets, has relaunched its various classes and workshops covering everything from b-boy dancing and graf art to MCing and DJing earlier this month after spending most of April moving and getting settled in.
And while there are still a few kinks to work out, he's glad that Cyphers is up and running again. Its grand reopening on May 2 was well attended and featured a huge circle of b-boy dancing (which, in hip-hop parlance, is known as a "cypher") as well as graf art walls and local DJs.
"It was a hard transition, but we're getting things in order," he says.
To say the least. The past six months have been an emotional roller coaster for Morales and the rest of the Cyphers staff, he says, including being forced to vacate their last home, which opened in 2012 at Metro Marketplace shopping center near 29th Avenue and Dunlap Road.
Last fall, Morales says the plaza's owners informed the staff that their lease on the 2,100-square-foot building was up in March and wouldn't be renewed. Redevelopment plans were in the works for the entire shopping center, including razing the particular structure that Cyphers occupied.
Morales and fellow Cyphers founder Edson "House" Magana, a renowned Valley b-boy dancer, were devastated by the news. After all, the business partners and longtime friends had sunk countless time, effort, and sweat -- as well as tens of thousands of dollars -- into launching and sustaining the center.
Both had dreamed of owning and running something like Cyphers for decades, dating back to the '90s, when both were first involved in the local hip-hop culture scene, and being faced with the possibility that it could all turn to ashes was a major bummer.
The pair didn't have a backup plan or another spot where they could move Cyphers, which Morales says led to a lot of frustration with their situation. In all likelihood, he admits, the organization could have ended altogether.
"Yeah, it was a bad time," he says. "We had a lot of dreams sunk into that place, and when someone comes to you and says, 'We're gonna knock this building down, you've got to move out,' it just frustrates you."
The Cyphers staff put out the word, however, that they were in need of a new home. Luckily, Morales says, the PCA staff reached out in January and offered space to house the organization.