BOOK CAFE, MANNENBERG CLOSURE IS A BLOW TO THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES IN ZIMBABWE
Arterial Network Zimbabwe learnt with profound sadness the imminent closure in its current location of the Book Cafe and Mannenberg, one of the most vibrant arts centres in Zimbabwe.
Book Cafe and Mannenberg will close its doors at Fife Avenue Mall in Harare after 15 years. The building owners, retail giant OK Zimbabwe and its agent, Old Mutual, one of Africa’s largest property, finance and insurance conglomerates whose parent company is in South Africa, advised that the owners will occupy the premises from 2012. “Owner occupation” is often the only means by which a lease can be technically cancelled in this way under Zimbabwe law.
The Book Cafe and Mannenberg have epitomised good practice in arts entrepreneurship within a development framework, demonstrated by their impressive milestones: in 15 years the venues achieved: 7,500 concerts and events (mainly music and poetry), 650 public discussions, 90 book launches, 35 theatre productions and staging of 250 international touring acts. 600,000 audience entered the twin venues since opening, as Book Cafe in 1997 (with Luck Street Blues), and Mannenberg in 2000 (with historic performances by jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim). About 350 artists earned a livelihood at the venues in 2011 alone. 1200 artists participated annually in development programmes. 950 events were staged annually since 2008, and prior to 2008 about 600 events.
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