By Kundai Marunya
Hivos is set to launch a research on creative spaces as a way of fostering activism and civic engagement at the Pamberi Trust Gardens next Thursday.
The report which has the now defunct Book Café as a case study was commissioned some three years ago.
“In 2012 Hivos commissioned a research study on how creative spaces in Zimbabwe foster activism and civic engagement, if they do at all. The Book Café in Harare was selected as a practical example of such a space, mainly by virtue of its vibrancy and high visibility at home and abroad,” said Hivo’s Karen Whitney Maturure.
The study looked at how the Book Café has nurtured and influenced a culture activism in Zimbabwe in the last 15 years prior to the commencement of the study. The study was not limited to creative artists, but included activists from other sections of civic society who used the Book Café as their space for dialogue and engagement.
Matarure said, “After the desk research and the interviews, the draft report was then discussed at a one day mini – summit which comprised about 19 interviewees and 5 representatives from the Book Café and from Hivos.” The study, though limited to the Book Café, also looked at the larger context in which the Book Café and other creative spaces operated in Zimbabwe inorder to understand the role of such spaces in fostering activism.
“The findings largely support Hivos’s assumption that spaces for cultural/artistic expression indeed increase citizens’ critical consciousness,” she said.
The launch though being used as a distribution platform for sharing the findings it is also aimed at bringing a representation from various sectors of civic society which used the Book Café as a space for critical dialogue and engagement. It will also be used as a space to interact and network with the owners of the space, the researchers, and colleagues from the creative and from other sectors.
Speakers will include Tomas Brickhill, son to the late founder of Book Café, Paul and representatives from Hivos and the research team.