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By Toyin Akinosho
16 April 2017   |   2:49 am
Afrikulture is the city’s newest pop up art gallery; Narrative Landscape Press is a ‘kind of’ new publishing firm and House of Wahala is a new art auction house.

National Theatre

New in town, Matters Arising
Afrikultur is the city’s newest pop up art gallery; Narrative Landscape Press is a ‘kind of’ new publishing firm and House of Wahala is a new art auction house. The creative art market grows, it seems. and Eghosa Imasuen invited writers and literary enthusiasts to an open house of sorts, at the premises of their new firm with an essay-sounding name: Narrative Landscape Press, in Anthony Village, a small suburb in the north of Lagos, two weekends ago. “Drinks, Food and Conversation”, headlined the e-invite to the soiree. Narrative Landscape Press is a publishing and logistics solution provider, the invitation’s footer notes. The company is a fruit of the wide ranging experiences of its two founders. Imasuen, a trained medical doctor, entered the trade with his first novel, To St Patrick, published by Farafina, (the Nigerian publishers of Chimamada Adichie’s novels). By the time his second novel, Fine Boys, came out, he had chosen literature over medicine and was on his way to becoming the CEO of the company that helped establish his literary credentials. Ojogwu herself started out as an editor at Farafina, but in her 11 years in the industry she has moved around far more, getting into promotional campaigns and editing for books, editorial consulting for magazines and, outside the pages, she has had stints in communication departments at the Fate Foundation and Thistle Praxis. Her last job was as the Editor at Quramo Publishing, an earnest, quality minded outfit. Narrative Landscape Press will help clients along the chain from book designs to shipping alternatives; consult on academic, nonfiction and fiction books; help with access to a network of local and international printers and provide convenient sea and airfreight options, according to its website.”Starting our own independent publishing firm has always been our dream”, Ojogwu says. “For now, we are a general service company, gradually defining ourselves”…

…The Millennials’ Party
Across town from Anthony village, Africulture hosted the arthouse crowd, the Saturday before last, to what it termed “a celebration of millennial arts”. The atmosphere, at the Freedom Park in Onikan, resembled a graduation party. Mid Forty to late Fifty year old Mums and Dads came to cheer their twenty something year old children, whose paintings, photographs, cartoons and drawings were on view. The organisers’ main objective was “to give burgeoning creatives the chance to carve out their own niche market …” Africultur’s kickstarter, Isabella Agbaje, a content developer just returned from Silicon valley has found herself to be more contented with assembling artistic talent and presenting their products to new audiences, than developing software, she tells me. “These artists define a new aesthetic for African Art, through visual stimulation and mixed media”. There was a lot of earnestness in the efforts of the artists on display, some of whom, like the photographer Logor, have been around the scene for a while. But in terms of the overall achievement of the 20+ artists exhibiting, this wasn’t yet the grand inaugural. A good percentage of this art is promising. Some will blossom.

…The House of Wahala auction was different from mainstream art auctions in one way: the auctioneer is an artist, and her work was part of the auction. There’s one more thing: artists received 90% of the proceeds of the auctioned work. Wura -Natasha Ogunji, who coordinated this outing, at the Fusebox Festival in Austin, Texas, United States on the 15th of April (which was yesterday), is not bashful about what her group is getting into: “We trouble the waters, go against the grain.”,  Of the 30 participating artists, nine were Nigerians, although the premiere is taking place from 8pm.

Book Publishing Is Europe’s Largest Cultural Industry
Europe’s book publishers say that their industry is the continent’s largest cultural industry. Although nowhere in the newly released report by the Federation of European Publishers, is a comparison of business figures in the publishing industry with those of other cultural products, the sales statistics produced in the report, the first attempt of its kind-according to the authors- to collect such a wide range of data focusing on book publishing, are quite staggering. Book publishing generates a turnover of € 22-24Billion per year in the European Union and European Economic Area alone, for a total market value of € 36-40Billion, the report says. “The majority of the world’s top publishing groups are European-owned (6 to 8 of the top 10 publishing groups, according to the annual Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry)”, Henrique Mota, President of the Federation of European Publishers, contends in the report’s foreword.

Accordingly, the world’s major book fairs (Frankfurt, London, Bologna) take place in Europe. “Publishing houses directly employ some 150,000 people in the EU, and the whole value chain (authors, retailers) accounts for close to half a million jobs. Taking into account printers, designers, and other sectors that depend in part from book publishing, this number increases to some 600- 700,000”. The figures just pile up. “European publishers publish more than half a million new titles every year, in the 24 official EU languages and the dozens of minority languages spoken across the continent, making a selection of millions of titles available to each European reader”.

Mota is apparently a satisfied leader of a hugely successful sector. “European book publishing is a solid, innovative cultural sector, with a strong export component and an exceptionally high level of customer satisfaction”. The economic crisis that started in 2008 certainly affected the book market, and the years following the onset of the crisis saw a general decrease of sales and revenues. “We hope, after a return to growth in 2015, that an upward trend can be re-established”, Mota says.

Compiled by staff of Festac News Agency