FG seeks partnership to make arts sector economically viable

Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed views the art works at the commemorative exhibition in Benin City


The Federal Government has said that it will explore Private-Public-Partnership in the development of arts, culture and tourism sector to make it economically viable.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this in Benin on Friday night at the opening of the annual National Gallery of Art exhibition titled “Art of Benin Kingdom”.

The exhibition was organised by the National Gallery of Art in commemoration of the coronation of the new Oba of Benin, Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolopkolo, Oba Ewuare II.

Mohammed noted that business of arts, culture and tourism required a lot of money and government could not run it alone without the support and cooperation of the private sector.

He assured that government would  encourage the private sector to invest in the creative industry because there were a lot to reap from such investment.

The minister said government would  provide the enabling environment to make it easy for young artists to have access to fund, improve their capacity and find markets for them.

“In times of recession like this, most countries diversify not just the tangible industries but also the intangible such as culture and creative industry.

“Art and Craft have been explored to preserve and promote cultural and linguistic identities as well as for social re-engineering, and above all, if properly harnessed, are veritable tools for revenue generation, economic empowerment and job creation.

“The only commodity in the world  which price never goes down is the works of art.

“A painting today which is worth one million dollar, in few years time can worth more than two million dollar.

“My ministry will leverage the arts and craft, culture and tourism for economic benefits in tandem with focus of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to explore and develop the non-oil sector,” he said.

The minister commended the initiative of the exhibition which showcased the exquisite Benin art in the national collection alongside art works produced by some Benin artists.

He said the Edo people were famous for their bronze works, and as a result of the extent and quality of its creativity, Benin was famously referred to as “the ancient city of Bronze, cradle of black civilization”.

“What we have seen today is centuries of history, culture and tradition which have been translated via various media such as canvass, marble concrete steel foil and media photography,” he said.

He assured that government would do everything possible to repatriate the stolen works of arts from the country, including the Idia Ivory mask, the official symbol of the second World Black Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC ’77).

The minister underscored the significance of the establishment of World Intellectual Property Organisation’s External Office in the country.

He said the office was significant to the overall creativity and innovation as well as leveraging on the cultural heritage of “Nigeria as the world’s largest black nation”.

The Chairman of the event and the Iyasere of Benin Kingdom, Chief Sam Igbe, said the Benin people were natural artists and the exhibition was apt in celebrating the rich culture of the kingdom.

Igbe charged the younger generation to take keen interest in arts to sustain the tradition and culture of the ancient city.

The Director General of the National Gallery of Art, Abdullahi Muku, said the art works on display were variety of stylistic expressions in various media.

He said the gallery had produced an exhibition brochure which documented the exhibition for posterity and as a reference material.

The event was attended by  Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Culture,  Rep.  Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, artists and stakeholder from Benin and beyond. (NAN)