Florida International University

Facing a $300,000 cut in budget cuts, the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center is hoping to start bridging the funding gap with a fundraiser Friday evening, Jan. 14.

The event will feature renowned tap dancer Marshall Davis Jr., comic Marcellus "Chello" Davis and singer “Natural.”
Located in the heart of Liberty City, the center was established in 1975 to nurture nascent talent among area youth in the performing and visual arts.

All three of the featured performers Friday are center alumni.

Davis., son of center director Marshall Davis Sr., debuted at the center as a child. He’s now dancing in SoLoiNTiME, the latest production from world-famous tapper Savion Glover, creator of the Broadway hit Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in ’Da Funk.

“Coming back as an alumnus allows those who are now where we were to see and know that the possibilities are real,” the younger Davis said. “The goal of this event is to show the importance and the impact the Cultural Arts Center has made and can continue to make with the proper support and funding from the county and community together.”

The center offers year-round programs such as band, drama, art, chorus, music theatre, ceramics and photography, primarily aimed at young people but also the general community.

It is home to the Winds of Heritage Dance Ensemble and the Voices of Heritage Vocal Ensemble, featuring students aged 6 to 18.

The center is funded by Miami-Dade County and therefore potentially impacted by the county’s budget woes as officials try to fill a budget deficit exceeding $400 million. The center’s very existence was on the block last year.

Community protests headed off the budget axe then, but at the cost of reduced staff for the center’s after-school art programs.

This year, though, the county cut the center’s budget by nearly a third, from about $967,000 to about $670,000, a 31 percent cut totaling about $297,000.

The senior Davis stresses the importance of community involvement to the center.

“The money from the fundraiser will be used for instructional needs of the students, like school supplies, dance attire and equipment for the arts classes we offer,” he said.

Iman Jeffrey may be contacted at ijeff001@fiu.edu.


WHAT: Fundraiser for  African Heritage Cultural Arts Center

WHERE: African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 6161 NW 22nd Ave., Miami

WHEN: 7:30 pm, Friday, Jan. 14

COST: Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

CONTACT: For more information, please call 305-638-6771.