From “small”, the “Smallest circus in the world”, “PPCM” for regulars, only this qualifier remains in the original name. Some 16,930 beneficiaries in 2022, 12,000 spectators, 4,300 hours of lessons… This vast wooden building, with its solid marquee reaching 28 meters high, is a veritable anthill in almost constant activity.
This September return to school, marked for ten days by the Préambulations festival, will however have a special flavor. The PPCM, led since 2007 by Eleftérios Kechagioglou, obtained the national label “cultural meeting center” last June. It is the 21st in France – among places like the Maison Maria-Casarès or the Noirlac Abbey –, only the 2nd in Île-de-France and above all the 1st in a suburb, part of contemporary heritage.
A new step taken in an adventure started in 1992 by a handful of residents of the Tertres-Cuverons district, in Bagneux. “It all started from a banal conversation between neighbors,” remembers Valérie Cediel, volunteer and member of the board of directors. Initially, the idea was to offer activities to kids who weren’t going on vacation and then, gradually, the PPCM continued to grow. »
An association governed by the 1901 law, the PPCM today has around thirty full-time employees and around fifteen volunteers. “This collaboration between volunteers and employees is truly part of the DNA of the PPCM,” assures Valérie Cediel, who watches over, among other things, the Herbal Tea open on class days and show evenings. An essential convivial space in the 2,000 m2 building, built in 2014 by Patrick Bouchain and Loïc Julienne during a project in which the residents of the neighborhood were involved.
Shows linked to the public
“Making everyone take ownership of the place is a constant challenge,” says Brenda Balkissoon, responsible for audience development. The circus school is one of the essential components of the PPCM – which has also recently offered pre-professional training – but it is also a place of dissemination and creation, with around 80 performances per year.
As part of its “First Steps Nursery”, the PPCM welcomes on average between 8 and 10 companies in residence each year. “With us, the artists do not stay locked up,” specifies Breda Balkissoon. The residency is always in contact with the public. For us, creation and mediation go hand in hand. » For an art resolutely under the sign of encounter.