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Commissioner Hardemon looks at the MFLC through his own lens

Hardemon says funding for the organization is still under review

Ashley Montgomery | 3/20/2014, 9 a.m.

Last week, The Miami Times issued an article about the Miami Film Life Center located in the historic Chapman House next to Booker T. Washington High School possibly losing funding. On Jan. 27th, McKoy says that the MFLC was removed without notice from the agenda during a monthly Southeast Overtown/ Park West

Community Redevelopment Agency meeting. It was reported that Michelle McKoy project manager for the MFLC reached out to Commissioner Keon Hardemon to set a meeting about funding issues. Contrary to last week’s article, the MFLC is not a non-profit agency. After having to stretch their dollars for the past three

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Keon Hardemon, District 5 Commissioner

months, McKoy and her team were worried that they would have to no longer offer services to its 1,000 members. Hardemon responded back to The Miami Times via Twitter stating that funding was never taken away. Also, that the Commission was in the process of deciding whether the $300,000 that they were providing was being spent wisely.

The Miami Film Life Center (MFLC) in the neighborhood of Overtown is having their funding from the Commission reviewed. MFLC is a local arts establishment which focuses on educating youth, job training and professional redevelopment. They also provide resource and networking opportunities.

Project Manager, Michelle McKoy stated that she and her members were distraught that they were taken off the agenda at a monthly Southeast Overtown / Park West Community Redevelopment Agency [CRA] meeting on January 27th.

“The MFLC was removed from the agenda because the Commission had not received enough information regarding their allocation request and budget structure to responsibly grant more than a quarter of a million dollars,” Hardemon said. “As the Chairman, I intend to foster the public’s confidence that the board does not irresponsibly squander public funds.”

Though the Miami Film Life Center has nearly 1,000 members, Hardemon says that he does not see much participation from Overtown residents.

“When I asked participants in the program where they were from at a recent site visit each one replied somewhere other than Overtown and the City of Miami,” Hardemon said.

The Miami Film Life Center is dedicated to changing the film industry in Miami. The CEO and Founder, Jeff Friday is best known for producing events like the American Black Film Festival and Black Movie Awards.

Hardemon thinks that The Center should diversify their grant funding and awards.

“Securing grants from other funding organizations as well as the CRA seems appropriate,” Hardemon said. “Additionally, they should focus their efforts on increasing the participation of Overtown residents.”

McKoy said that MFLC is actively working on grassroots campaigns that will engage students at Booker T. Washington Senior High in hopes of increasing the awareness of the Center and attracting more Overtown residents.

“I’m discouraged by their lack of engagement in the Overtown community despite the incredible financial support that they have received because of the misfortune of the condition of Overtown,” Hardemon said.

Commissioner Hardemon recognizes the importance and need for minorities to have a creative outlet in their own community.

“It is especially important to guarantee that the outlet is properly servicing those within the community that it purports to serve,” Hardemon said.

The Center’s McKoy said in a recent interview that they’re ready and willing to align their vision in order to stay alive.

Commissioner Hardemon, is a graduate of Miami Northwestern Senior High, Florida A&M University and University of Miami’s Law School. For the past three years, he worked for the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s office. Hardemon is a member of one of Liberty City’s most prominent political families. Miami’s District 5 is the largest geographically and most diverse in the City.

The Miami Film Life Center is expecting to continue on with their Master Class Series. The next class will be on March 22 at the Camillus House at 11 a.m. This initiative was implemented to enhance their acting, producing and directing skills. Over 500 film enthusiasts have attended these programs in the past.