Book Café survives debt crisis

HARARE - The Book Café is on the verge of solving a three-year financial crisis that was threatening its survival, Tomas Brickhill, the managing director of the legendary live music venue has said.

Tomas, who took over the running of the award-winning arts venue following the death of his father Paul Brickhill in October last year, told the Daily News recently that the strategies they put in place were bearing fruit.

“Without giving too much away we are close to solving the financial crisis situation.  In the near future our customers should be looking forward to a revamped setup, a new and improved Book Café,” said Tomas.

“We want to revolutionaralise and evolutionaralise. There are things that we are doing to set the bar high. We want to be a place that offers great things but in a different way.”

Tomas, who is a talented guitarist and filmmaker, conceded that the huge debt incurred by the popular venue was partly due their failure to respond to a changing environment.

“We have noticed that we have been doing things the same way and our clientele is the same as well. The way we have been doing it is not really working out and we need to up our game,” he said.

“We want to attract new customers and keep the ones we have in the process.  We are going to install physical changes.”

In January, Tomas, a guitarist for mbira punk outfit Chikwata 263, revealed that the Book Café was drowning in debt. To arrest the live music venue’s precarious financial position, various fundraising initiatives were put in place. A group dubbed Friends of the Book Café led by the quartet of Chamu Mashoko, Steve Brown, Josephine Bengui and Barbra Anderson organised two fundraising gigs that featured various artistes from diverse disciplines.

The Friends of the Book Café held their first gig over the Easter holidays which featured Transit Crew as well as several poets and comedians. The second one, held on May 9, also featured Transit Crew who shared the stage with comedians Simba the comic King, Walked and Pastor as well as poets Chirikure Chirikure, Barbra Breeze and Larry Kwirirayi.

The Book Café has been a key player on the Zimbabwe arts scene since inception in 1993. It has given a platform to both young and established artistes. The popular venue is also home to spoken word initiatives like Sistaz Open Mic and the House of Hunger Poetry Slam.

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