Founded in May, 2016, Amra Odbhuth Cafe started out as a pet project from a community member's living room where we had community performances and poetry readings, and sold food we made to sustain these events. In January, 2017, we shifted to permanent space.
We are a group of LGBTQ youth looking to start a self sustainable community center in Kolkata. We are a one of its kind project in India, and the first to have an official community 'space and cafe' in the country.
Our cafe is built in a community model, in that it gives visibility, platform, support and employment to queer artists and individuals. The trans community especially feels that this space is a safe haven which lets them express their gender without feeling threatened. At the moment we function on an event basis, but we have an entire two story home with a terrace, backyard and garage (which we plan on turning into a community store), available. The house is really old, and was uninhabited for almost ten years and is hence falling apart. The core team members have all pitched in monetarily to make it a barely operable space but we have exhausted our means and lack the funds to open this up on a regular basis.
Our events so far include poetry nights, drag nights, queer film screenings, community workshops, we've also had a performance by trans poet, Alok Vaid Menon. We hold queer performances at all our events, and raise donations that are used to pay performers for their labor and sustain the space's bills, repair costs etc.
Our primary aim is to give the grassroots queer community the means to support themselves through employment, by performing, selling their art etc. We are connected with the community all over the country, including several trans artisan groups in nearby villages and districts who make fabulous accessories, bags, clothes etc. We feel giving them access to a mainstream market space by creating a cafe atmosphere, we will be successful in our long term goals.
Funded by Awesome Without Borders (October 2017)