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Bringing Arts and Community Together Under One Roof

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ABOUT

The Majestic Culture Hub is an exciting proposition for a new lease on life for the Majestic Cinema.
The art deco gem located in Vuga; Stone Town is the last purpose-built cinema in Zanzibar that is still in use.
It is run by Abdulhussein Marashi, whose family has been in charge of the cinema since the 1960s.

Unfortunately, its current condition puts it at risk and actions need to be taken to save it from further deterioration.
Busara Promotions, (Re)cleaim Women Space, Zanzibar International Film Festival and Hifadhi Zanzibar Ltd.
Lead the campaign to restore the Majestic Cinema and Create a new and inclusive space for Zanzibar's arts scene and community.

FUTURE PLANS

Our aim is to give the building a new lease on life as a Culture Hub.

The plans for its future use have been developed together by the partners involved in the project and reflect our respective needs and desires.

The design of the hub will be centered around the cinema hall, which will be run by its current manager, but additional space for the creative community to work, exchange ideas and showcase their art will be provided.

The hub will also include office spaces, meeting rooms, and public spaces such as a restaurant and a café.

MAJESTIC HUB

The Majestic Cinema is managed by Abdulhussein Marashi who has been working in the cinema since 1982 taking over from his father. Mr. Marashi has been keeping the cinema alive for the past four decades by playing movies for a small group of loyal movie fans. He also runs the restaurant at the rear of the building.

The Majestic Cinema opened its doors on October 20, 1955. The Art Deco building was designed by a local architect Dayalji Pitamber Sachania and was commissioned by one of Zanzibar’s cinema entrepreneurs Hassanlai Hameer Hasham after the old cinema went down in flames on February 8, 1954. The previous building, originally called the Royal Cinema, was the first luxurious cinema in East Africa. It was opened by Hassanali Adamjee Jariwalla and designed by J.H. Sinclair, the British Resident, and architect of buildings such as the Post Office and the Peace Memorial Museum in Zanzibar.

When built, the Majestic Cinema had a panoramic projection screen and stereophonic sound system and seating for 750 people, including a large steep balcony for 200 people. In addition to housing the cinema, the building is also housed at various moments in time: a restaurant, a canteen selling popcorn, sodas, pastries, and other nibbles, offices of Air Tanzania, and a hotel called Pigalle. Today the building in addition to being used as a cinema hall is also used for offices by the State University of Zanzibar. Ticket offices were originally located both at the front and at the rear of the cinema, where there is now an additional building housing a small restaurant and offices.

Majestic, the name says it all…

MAJESTIC CINEMA

PROGRAMME PROJECTED AT FLOOR PLANS

OUR PARTNERS

The team behind the Majestic Culture Hub is composed of local organisations representing various aspects of Zanzibar’s rich culture.
What all the partners have in common is the shared believe in culture and its role as a powerful driver for development, with community-wide social,
economic and environmental impacts. Together and individually, we work to better the lives of the people around us and to make sure that everyone can enjoy the benefits of Zanzibar’s culture

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Zanzibar International Film Festival is an NGO established in 1997 to develop and promote film and other cultural industries
in order to catalyse regional social and economic growth.

ZIFF is the main organiser of the annual film festival in Zanzibar which is known as one of the largest cultural events in East Africa.

ZIFF is a truly local festival, with exhibitions, workshops and cultural tours that take you to the heart of the community.The organisation promotes local talent in film and music and showcases new and old creative achievements.

ZIFF has a core staff managing various events throughout the year. In addition,
the organisation collaborates with a large number of volunteers and partners which enables them to continuously reach new audiences.

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ZIFF will use the building as its base, and will be involved in the programming of events in the multi-purpose hall throughout the year and during the festival.

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Busara Promotions has been registered as an NGO in Zanzibar since 2003 with the mission to promote the development of both established and upcoming musicians, particularly those living in disadvantaged communities. Sauti za Busara, their flagship event, takes place every year in Stone Town during February.

Sauti za Busara is more than ‘just’ a music festival: it contributes to the growth and professionalization of the creative sector in the region; provides learning, exchange and employment opportunities, and promotes Zanzibar globally as a leading destination for cultural tourism.

Whilst continuing to maintain and build on the reputation of Sauti za Busara festival in Zanzibar, Busara Promotions also aim to develop further over the next five years by expanding events, strengthening partnerships and diversifying sustainable revenue streams.

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Busara Promotions will use the buildings as its base office and will be involved in the programming of events in the multi-purpose hall throughout the year and during the festival.

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(Re)claim Women Space is an NGO set up to counter the marginalisation of spaces for women in the public realm and to better the position of women in Zanzibar.The organisation promotes safe public spaces and creates opportunities for women to shine.

(Re)claim Women Space believes that women’s access to the public sphere is about much more than having a place to chat with friends- it is symbolic of the economic, social, and political power they hold in society, and their ability to share ideas and solve problems communally.

The organisation is a local effort aiming to empower women to work together to take back public spaces that have been overrun or co-opted for other purposes and to create new spaces that better serve their communities. Their focus is on employing female engineers and hosting skills classes that teach women everything from masonry to running a business. Using a technique called “memory mapping,”

(Re)claim Women’s Space asks women from across several generations to draw memories of their favourite public spaces in Stone Town and imagine ones they would like to see in the future in an effort to improve the community’s livelihood.

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(Re)claim Women Space will use the building as its base and for their programmes and will advise and give input to actively involve women groups in the programming and employment that comes with the rehabilitation of the building.

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Hifadhi Zanzibar is a private company with a public goal. Our mission is to contribute to the development and maintenance of Stone Town’s thriving centre by acquiring, restoring and cost-effectively utilizing monumental buildings.

Hifadhi believes that Zanzibar’s built heritage is of exceptional universal value as a source of identity which contributes to the community cohesion and is an important driver for island’s tourism and economic development.

Hifadhi finds it of paramount importance to maintain Stone Town and make it into a more attractive urban environment step-by step. The organisation also aspires to set an example with its actions that can be followed by other owners.

Hifadhi manages its property in a profitable way, not with the aim to maximise dividend but to reinvest in new property, making an ever-increasing positive impact on the state of Zanzibar’s built heritage. 

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Hifadhi’s aimed role in the project to coordinate the restoration works and after completion manage the use of the building, which includes renting out the public halls and spaces on a sustainable basis (that is profitable, but not for profit) in addition to the lease agreements with the partners. Meanwhile it will maintain the building in outstanding condition. 

Frequently asked questions:

  • Cinema/ culture hall for performances and other activities
  • Flexible performance spaces
  • Meeting/workshop rooms
  • Offices
  • Service spaces: kiosks, restaurant, cafe

The answer is everyone. Local organisations and artists will be able to use the space for working, meetings and workshops.

Government and international organisations can hold conferences and meetings in the premisses, while the local community will be able to enjoy the place by participating in events or simply hanging out in the comfortable and pleasant common spaces.

We are currently in the final stages of the Blueprints for Majestic Cinema project financed through a grant from Culture at Work Africa.

This project enabled us to do a research on the importance of cinema in Zanzibar and the history of the building,
carry out interviews with various people from the local community and prepare a relevant programme for the building reflecting the needs of its anticipated users.

The work continues, we are now looking for funding to prepare a technical condition assessment of the building and a restoration plan.

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