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Book Café wins 2011 Prince Claus Award
September 12, 2011
Zimbabwe's Book Cafe,
the flagship venue of Pamberi Trust, is a laureate of 2011 Prince
The award has been described
as "a momentous achievement for Zimbabwean performing arts,
and for Book Cafe", which becomes one of the first live performing
arts venues of this kind in the world to win the prestigious global
award. Book Cafe was awarded the prize for its role in "culture
and development", built and focussed on a platform of freedom
of expression across music, poetry and theatre with public discussion,
film and multi-disciplinary arts.
recipients in performing arts have previously received the award;
Baaba Maal (Senegal, music), Werewere Liking (Ivory Coast, spoken
word), Yousour N'dour (Senegal, music) and Zimbabwe's Edgar Langeveld
(comedy), who fittingly achieved his major successes in Book Cafe.
Previous Zimbabwean laureates also include Zimbabwe
International Book Fair Trust (1997), in which Book Cafe's forerunner,
Grassroots Books, had also played a prominent role.
Coincidentally, the award
for Book Cafe comes as it commemorates its 30 years of history since
inception in 1981.
The Jury Report for the
2011 Price Claus Award to the Book Cafe reads:
"The Book Café
(launched 1997, Harare) is a vibrant platform for free cultural
expression. Operating under the umbrella of the Pamberi Trust,
with creative director Paul Brickhill, and a dedicated team of
staff, this unassuming café and bar presents more than
600 cultural events a year to enthusiastic capacity audiences
of people from all racial and cultural groups and all sectors
of Zimbabwean society".
"Its 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
rap. It has developed strong links with the African music scene,
frequently organising exchanges and hosting visiting musicians
including stars such as Abdullah Ibrahim. Many of its performers,
like Chiwoniso Maraire, have gone on to develop international
"The Book Café
runs artistic workshops and practical training programmes throughout
the year, and provides access to rehearsal space and equipment.
It emphasizes gender equality and youth development, running special
initiatives such as FLAME (Female Literary, Arts and Music Enterprise)
to promote women in the arts, and BOCAPA (Book Café Academy
of Performing Arts) open-mic sessions which are well-subscribed
opportunities for new talent. Home to Zimbabwe's thriving
movement of protest poets, the Book Café is renowned for
debates on current issues such as land justice or journalistic
ethics, and for staging often controversial performances".
"The Book Café
is awarded for its exemplary support of culture and development
in Zimbabwe, for the diversity, quality and wide reaching impact
of its activities, for stimulating creativity and fostering aspiring
young talent, and for its tenacity and commitment in upholding
freedom of expression in a difficult context".
The Prince Claus Awards
are presented annually to individuals, groups and organisations
in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean for outstanding
achievement in culture and the positive effect of their work on
the wider cultural or social field. Quality is a sine non qua for
Each year the Prince
Claus Fund invites 250 international experts with expertise in the
field of culture and development to nominate candidates. It is not
possible to nominate oneself or one's own organisation. Nominations
are confidential. The Fund receives about 80 nominations and thoroughly
researches the nominations and asks for advice about the nominations
from advisors in its network. The Prince Claus Awards Committee
meets twice a year to decide the final laureates.
The Award is extremely
broad in scope, and mainly presented to individuals across Africa,
Asia, Latin America and Caribbean. In winning the award Book Cafe
joins a world-acclaimed group of philosophers, choreographers, writers,
architects, fashion designers, art critics, film makers, fine artists,
cultural magazines, publishers, comedians, cartoonists, photographers,
radio and TV stations, poets, book fairs, festivals and carnivals,
record producers, dramatists, music schools, museums, curators and
The principle Prince
Claus Award for 2011 went to Cape Town's arts magazine, "Chimurenga"
which has broken new ground in cultural journalism in South Africa.
Chimurenga is a pan-African publication on culture, art and politics.
It is an innovative platform for free ideas and political reflection
by Africans about Africa.
The other laureates,
joining Zimbabwe's Book Cafe in 2011, include Kazakh artist
Said Atabekov, Nicaraguan rural community arts organiser Nidia Bustos,
the photographer Rena Effendi from Azerbaijan, Guatemala's
radical performance artist Regina Galindo, the Ilkhom Theatre from
Uzbekistan, Haitian writer Kettly Mars, performance artist Rabih
Mroué from Lebanon, the RIWAQ Centre for Architectural Conservation
in Palestine and Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser.
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