Favourable spotlight on much maligned community

(Canscene) — “The Regent Park Film Festival is an important validation of a vibrant community which has been the subject of much negative press. The community is taking charge of telling its own stories. nd Regent Park Focus and the EYE video program run by Adonis Huggins gives young people tools to tell their stories in a creative and engaging manner.”

So wrote Lalita Krishna, award-winning maker of Canadian documentaries who was invited to the festival, an initiative of Regent Park Focus. Focus is a community program for youth that belies the reputation media, commercial interests, some politicians and bigoted gossips have bestowed on the Toronto public housing project.

With the Regent Park Revitalization project now underway, this reputation is calculated to disappear, but looking at the work of Focus reminds us that this community project for youth has been going since 1989 funded by the provincial government, foundations, corporate donors and individuals.

ts dynamic program director since 1991 has been Adonis Huggins, a community worker and also experienced in theatre which has given Regent Park Focus its arts-based flavour.

Adonis Huggins, progam director of Focus

Today, Focus is a media arts centre that runs a radio program , publishes a bi-monthly magazine, operates a photography studio and was responsible for the recent film festival. Located in a spacious basement below an apartment block, its walls are covered with photographs taken by some of the project’s 150 members. The bi-monthly Catch da Flava is also on display, its latest issue dealing with immigration; staffed and written by young people, its maturity of expression
and willingness to deal with issues are noticeable.

And just last month Focus launched its web television project which can be accessed at www.regentpark.tv. First production to be shown was the short film Bikeman featuring three preteeners in a skit on how a caped crusader lecturing others has his own bike stolen.

Due to the massive revitalization of Regent Park, the basement premises housing Focus will disappear along with the apartment building it sits under. This a project that deserves priority consideration of a promise of substitute premises and a permanent location when revitalization is completed.

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