Arleb by Nabad interviews “Minal Shaab”, a group of Lebanese artists (musicians, visual artists, producers, actors…) aiming through arts to create a cultural and civil identity that can unify the Lebanese people.
Arleb by Nabad – Can you tell us more about your organization/initiative’s mission and objectives?
Minal Shaab – We are striving to show our people that our different views and beliefs enable us to grow more as a society and only then can we start to build our country. Our music and paintings mainly reflect on the changes we have to undergo as people and that nothing can be fixed unless we as citizens of this country start acting as responsible individuals towards our homes, villages, society, and country.
A change in the Lebanese music scene is inevitable, so we also would like to research our music and really examine the way it has evolved so we can direct it to the right path of our culture and heritage.
The way we work as musicians when we gather to play a song with our different backgrounds and views and the constant bickering and discussions we go through so we can finally reach a tune or song that satisfies everyone in the same way we hope to influence our society to be open on other opinions and beliefs, so we can start creating a harmonious, civil, progressive, unified society…
Arleb by Nabad – What about your past and current projects?
Minal Shaab – Our group started mainly by attending all main public events and festivals and we contributed in music and painting (example: Marj Bisri freedom camp 2018, an environmental festival in Matn district 2017, playing music on the streets in the Lebanese revolution 2019, and many events which were on a local scale. We also organized many meetings and workshops in music, visual arts, and theater. We lately released a new music Album Called “Bel Wayl” and our first single was “Beirut Reggae” available on all main platforms (Youtube, Anghami, Spotify, apple music, amazon…) and will be followed by five songs and artwork, and we are preparing for a music video which will air on August 4th the date of the Beirut port explosion.
In addition to several paintings and literature on social media on our Instagram and Facebook pages @minalshaab, we are preparing for a surprise theatrical event which will take place in Autumn 2021.
We always collaborate with different artists and guests (you can contact us via [email protected]) allowing our group to grow, and we extend our call to all artists or non-artists who desire help, collaboration, or any kind of support we can offer and any help and support for us we would be more than grateful, hoping that our ideas surpass the group and become on a national level and everyone will have a role in building our country, for this group is from the people and for the people…
Arleb by Nabad – According to you, what has been the impact of the multiform crises in Lebanon on the arts and culture scene?
Minal Shaab – The arts and music institutions were in fact before the crisis controlled by the rich class in our country, with a few exceptions of course. With this crisis, we are trying to restore art for the people, we are applying democracy to art and making the production of music possible for all, all the while examining the quality of music that has been lost for the sake of money (faster-produced music with fewer instruments or absent of music theory is less investment and more revenue).
Art should not be for-profit primarily, and it should not be narrowed to entertain people only, it should be richer, more honest, and a reflection of our culture and situation, and this change is what we have been missing in our society.
During this crisis we need art more than ever to elevate us and to lead us into a new reality, art should be the modulator for shaping the future, and enriching our culture (of the cultural manifestation and richer arts can promote richer cultures.)
Arleb by Nabad – What are the main challenges facing artists, small creative enterprises, and arts NGOs nowadays in Lebanon?
Minal Shaab – As we mentioned, money is key in the music and arts industry, from recording to distributing, to buyers and consumers… The first challenge is to bypass the common platform by using social media which is also another big challenge — and without investment, it is a slow process. Another challenge is to actually promote art in times of crisis where people think that the necessities of life are more important than art, disregarding the fact that art is more than a necessity, it is the catharsis of social issues in a controlled environment avoiding the escalation of violence in real life.
We are also facing everyday problems like all our compatriots such as our economic crisis, electricity problems, and the fuel crisis, to the extent that we are sometimes postponing our work because of these issues.
Arleb by Nabad – How do you see/define the role(s) of arts and culture in social transformation or social change?
Minal Shaab – Art can create new ideologies. For example, Moustapha Farroukh’s painting helped create the ideology of “Loubnan al Akhdar” (green Lebanon). The dream of a green Lebanon has helped conserve the natural reserve of many villages in Lebanon which shows the impact art has on social change. Moreover, art is a key to critical thinking by helping the spectator as an individual face the reality he is living in with an auto-reflective attitude. Art is a safe environment that can criticize society. It reflects the social reality in order to question it without offending any personal belief leading to the auto re-evaluation of this reality. Then and only then can arts contribute to the growth of a society or to the individual growth which can reinforce the first.
As an organization of artists, we would like to promote our ideas of solidarity and cooperation by trying to create new Lebanese art that is a real reflection of our fusion of identities. Our art is not oriental or occidental, it is a combination of different lifestyles that we experience in our everyday life. Lebanon needs a new form of art that can unify all the different expressions, drawing the attention of the majority of the people. Art can create a new cultural identity promoting the ideas of daily life behavioral change for a better harmonious life together.
Minal Shaab group members:
Wael (Creator, Composer), Saty (Producer, Musician), Gaia (Painter, visual arts, vocals), Mina Mookan (social media), Hicham Sader (musician), Farah Bouzerdan (photography, media), Elie Njeim (musician), Charbel Abi Nader (music production).