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Rejuvenate The @BookCafe_Harare, Harare’s arts hub

So, here’s the deal … 

The Book Cafe is the beating heart of culture in the capital. It is Harare’s arts hub, where a diversity of cultures mix freely, comfortably and peacefully, and it hosts live music, poetry, comedy, discussions and workshops and Book launches six nights a week.

Launched in 1997, Book Café was soon presenting more than 600 cultural events a year to enthusiastic audiences of people from all racial and cultural groups, and all sectors of Zimbabwean society. Our open door policy welcomes all genres and disciplines as well as new fusions and experiments. Live performances encompass spoken word, poetry slams, stand-up comedy, literary readings, drama and all types of music, from traditional mbira, blues and jazz to hip hop and punk.

The Book Cafe, and its sister venue The Mannenberg, staged over 900 concerts, arts events and workshops in 2011, before the business was evicted from its Fife Avenue premises. A new venue was quickly found, with the first shows at the new Book Cafe on Samora Machel Avenue taking place in mid-March 2012. The mission has continued. In 2013, 135 different bands played at the venue. This year more than 500 cultural events have been hosted at Book Café. We run artistic workshops and practical training programmes throughout the year, and provide access to rehearsal space, live demo recordings, a photoshoot location, advice and networking opportunities, and equipment for up-and-coming artists. We emphasize gender equality and youth development in all of our initiatives.

In July 2014, the Book Cafe was struck with a new challenge. Paul Brickhill, our founder and creative director, fell sick. Sadly, Paul passed away on 3 October. The venue is strong, and is managing, but this has realistically presented a major transition, brought forward. It will be very difficult to replace Paul’s extensive knowledge, contacts and experience, and the venue still has debts standing since the forced relocation.

What we need and what you get

Book Cafe is facing urgent financial challenges on multiple fronts. We need two months’ wages, as well as a cash injection to clear existing debts. Further funding would allow us to upgrade all the facilities at the venue, including sound equipment, workshop rooms, the kitchen and restaurant facilities (we still use the same chairs as we did in 1997) and decor. Such an upgrade would allow Book Cafe to operate at a completely new level, making it much easier to continue our multiple arts programmes in a sustainable way. We need $25,002 to help the Book Café fix up and look sharp in 2015. Here’s how we’ll be spending that money:

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Clearing 2 months staff back pay –                            ​​​$7389

Clearing other long standing debts –                          ​​​$9234

Recovering and repairing all chairs and tables​ –        $1000

Waterproofing for rainy season​​​ –                                 $575

Upgrading Toilets​​​​​ –                                                      $980

Greenify garden​​​​​ –                                                       $1200

Dancefloor for garden stage​​​​ –                                     $375

Repairing bar fridges​​​​​ –                                                $650

Lighting for garden entrance​​​​ –                                     $399

Upgrading kitchen equipment –                                  ​​​​$3200

If we surpass our funding target, we want to improve the venue even further, upgrading our stage lighting, reconditioning our PA system and our drums, keyboards, guitars and amplifiers which are made available for free to all artists performing on the Book Café stage. Depending on how far we get we might even be able to finally put up a huge ‘Tonight at Book Café’ billboard over the entrance so that you can see your favourite artist’s name in lights whenever they play!

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We’ll launch a reinvigorated Book Café with a HUGE party in 2015, and every person who donates to our crowdfunding campaign will be on the guestlist.

To reward our valued supporters to this campaign, we’ll be offering an array of exclusive perks, including signed CDs from Zimbabwe’s top performers, Book Café merchandise, dinner and drinks vouchers, and complimentary tickets to Harare’s most vibrant music events.We can even throw you a personalised party featuring one of your favourite Zimbabwean acts, or give you a one year FREE PASS to all Book Café shows!

Your donations won’t be a selfless gift – if you want to see more fantastic Zimbabwean live music and want to support the development of new bands, this is probably the best way to help that to happen.

The impact 

Contributing to this campaign will directly impact the health of arts and culture in Zimbabwe. The Book Café has helped to foster the musical careers of Chiwoniso Maraire, Mokoomba, Victor Kunonga, Hope Masike, Edith Weutonga, Dudu Manhenga, Comrade Fatso, Chikwata 263 and many more. We count Oliver Mtukudzi as one of our greatest friends and supporters. Your contribution will help to secure the future of a platform for many more up-and-coming artists.

Other ways you can help

The best way to support the Book Café is to come to our shows, support the artists and local music, and bring all your friends with you! Enjoy some great food while you’re at it, and don’t forget to be generous when tipping our hardworking waitresses, waiters and bar staff (and even the musicians on stage!). Even if you can’t give any monetary assistance to this crowdfunding campaign, you can still help by spreading the word!

Photo credit and Source: www.indiegogo.com

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Nigel Mugamu is extremely passionate about the use of tech in Africa, travel, wine, Man Utd, current affairs and Zimbabwe.

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