IMAN’s Community Café, established in 2003, is one of the few Muslim-led efforts that provides a space for socially conscious people to collectively celebrate and engage in diverse and creative artistic expression. Community Café allows for community members to utilize the arts as a tool for cross-cultural communication, civic engagement and social change. Delivering a vast array of stories, music, movement and visual art from rich cultures all across the Muslim world, IMAN continues the Muslim tradition of creating some of the most powerful artistic movements in the world; movements that celebrate our oneness as humans.
June’s Community Café came on the heels of June 16′s Dandana: A Celebration of Muslim Voices at Millennium Park. Community Café returned to the South Shore Cultural Center for a Celebration of Freedom – a show dedicated to the Arab Spring and freedom movements across the globe. It featured Chicago’s own Los Vicios de Papá, Morocco’s Tiraline and Omar Offendum, Syrian-American MC who also rocked at Streets 2010.
February’s Community Café, dubbed Healing Planet Rock, was a reaffirmation of IMAN’s commitment to greener lives and healthier lifestyles started by the Muslim Run Campaign for Health, Wellness and Healing. The show was hosted by Ibrahim Abdul-Matin and featured Malaysian star Yuna, alongside several other vocalists and live instrumentalists. A special thanks to a great new venue, the Chicago Urban Art Society.
Following on the success of the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) partnership at Millennium Park, IMAN partnered with DCA again for the World Music Festival. Meta & The Cornerstones joined with Egypt’s Riad & Takht for an eclectic performance night hosted at the South Shore Cultural Center.
Community Café returned to the Parkway Ballroom for a night honoring Malcolm X, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, through musical and visual art. The event included a headlining performance from The Narcicyst, as well as Community Café favorite Khalil Shaheed.
Community Café returns to NYC for another special edition at the historic Apollo Theatre. A diverse audience of over 1,500 gathered to witness some of the most brilliant Muslim artists perform, including headliner Mos Def. IMAN proved its ability to turn cultural gatherings into places of social action when it partnered with Islamic Relief to raise over $13,000 for the victims of Haiti’s earthquake.
Community Café expanded beyond Chicago with a special edition at New York City’s Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center that drew a packed room of over 600 people, turning away over 200. IMAN drew on the energy, relationship-building and excitement behind this effort to launch a national feasibility study.
A special Community Café celebrated Black History Month at DePaul University’s Merle Reskin Theatre, bringing together a diverse group of more than 900 people.
Community Café moved to Parkway Ballroom, a historic ballroom located in the heart of Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, in order to accommodate its growing audiences. Since then, the Café has attracted more than 400 people during each bimonthly edition.