SHOW BIS is a cultural and sustainable association that aims to collect professional equipment from Europe and send it to Africa to create 100% upcycling theatres. SHOW BIS has its base in Douala in Cameroon.
Art and About Africa interviewed the SHOW BIS’s president – Claire Nini and Jean Boog.
Is Art an essential need for you? If yes, why?
Claire: Art is our life!
We cannot imagine living without Art! Art is a weapon to spread culture and social development, especially in Africa.
Jean: Art is more than essential, it is vital!
How people manage to overcome the crisis? The answer is thanks to art: watching movies, reading books, visiting virtual museums, listening to music … Everybody needs art in his life! It’s as important as vital needs!
Claire Nini is a French journalist who is specialized in African contemporary art and dance. In 2019 Claire, together with Jean Boog, created the SHOW BIS association. Jean is both a dancer and a choreographer from Cameroon and he is specialized in hip hop, breakdance, African dance, and contemporary dance.
They met in Chad in 2013, and since then they work together.
When SHOW BIS was created?
Claire: SHOW BIS was an obvious revelation when we both went back to France in 2015 after two years living and working together in Chad.
We had the common desire to create a cultural project with a strong meaning for us and strongly linked to Africa.
What inspired you to start SHOW BIS?
Claire: One of the things we are concerned about was the huge waste of equipment in European theatres.
Indeed, there are considered useless, whereas there are still operational and should be of support to artists in Africa still for a long time.
The paradox is that in Africa there are a lot of talents and no equipment.
We are like Robin Hood: we desire to reverse this trend!
Our project is cultural, ecological, and focuses on international and artistic solidarity!
What was the motivation that led you to choose Africa and the choreographic center in Cameroon at Douala La Breakerie as the first place where to start?
Claire: Douala is the first place because we use to go often to Douala, at least once a year.
Jean has created his own dance company as a choreographer called Cie Di Sak in 2017.
When we go to Douala, we have no place to work.
We work in the street, in schools, in churches … in market places!
People deserve a place to see great shows and artists deserve the best place to work for.
Sixty years after independence, people should have the choice to go to other cultural places other than the French Institut or Goethe Institut.
In Africa the culture is still linked to the colonization story; SHOW BIS aims to create an independent cultural environment in Africa.
How is the relationship with the local community in both the European and African involved cities?
Claire: The collection takes place in France, Paris, where we live. We ask first the Parisian theatres – like Chaillot – that answers positively.
When we will have enough hardware to fill an entire shipping container, we will organize a crowdfunding campaign to collect the money necessary for shipment to Africa. The shipment is very expensive.
For now, the first project will take place in Cameroon, Douala, but our ambition is to build at least one upcycled theatre in each African country.
The second project after Cameroon will probably take place in Chad. Indeed, we both used to work and live in N’Djamena, and we still have links with artists living there.
We decided to start SHOW BIS with countries in Central Africa, which are, unfortunately, an unknown and forgotten. But not for much longer as SHOW BIS will highlight this area and the wonderful artists living in these countries.
Which audiences are you trying to attract?
Claire: SHOW BIS creates upcycled theatres! Art and culture are for Everybody! Young people and older ones! We want to attract a wide audience!
SHOW BIS is a new, interesting and innovative project. An initiative that unfortunately came into being only a year before the beginning of this difficult coronavirus time.
Covid-19 has brought many institutions and realities to their knees, particularly those operating in the services and cultural sectors.
Has the global situation changed anything for you? If yes, how?
Claire: SHOW BIS is a very new project, and we only started last December.
After two months, working in Cameroon in January and February 2020, March 2020 was the moment to work hard on our project.
The forced confinement was an opportunity for us to work hard in the background: we started the crowdfunding and our Instagram account during this period.
The virtual visibility brought us beautiful artistic meetings.
Everyone all around the world was ultra-connected during this unbelievable international crises.
Has your art project changed during the quarantine?
Claire: With our first attempt at the crowdfunding campaign we managed to collect 1000 euros, however, we observe that wasn’t really the right moment, considering this unprecedented period of Covid-19.
We were amazed by the solidarity, and we are so grateful to the people that are believing in what we are trying to achieve.
We have now launched a new campaign on a platform called “Hello Asso”