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At CEC meeting, safe haven for creative industry top agenda

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie
15 May 2016   |   2:00 am
For the first time since inception, Abuja Carnival was postponed indefinitely last year few days before take off without offering any plausible reason till today.
Director General, NCAC, Mrs. Dayo Keshi (third left), and other delegates

Director General, NCAC, Mrs. Dayo Keshi (third left), and other delegates

The 44th meeting of Chief Executives of Culture of the Federation (CEC) held recently in Kaduna, Kaduna State Capital, with participants determined to jealously protect the sector from further relegation. The new zeal was a fall-out of the low-level of activities recorded in the sector last year.

For the first time since inception, Abuja Carnival was postponed indefinitely last year few days before take off without offering any plausible reason till today.

Also in the previous year, the yearly National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST) could not hold as a result of lack of budgetary allocation at the federal level and states’ reluctance to accept additional responsibility in the face of prevailing economic situation.

In their resolve however, culture ambassadors unanimously agreed that in view of the current national economic reality, there was urgent need to re-strategize towards saving the sector from further slide.

It was also their view that some of the programmes organised by the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), such as NAFEST and African Arts and Crafts Expo (AFAC), which are strong enough to reposition the culture sector should be sustained against all odds.

“As festivals remain one of the fastest growing forms of tourism activities worldwide with the potentials of injecting extra revenue to the host region, states should identify festivals in their domains and package them as veritable components of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).”

Hence, delegates agreed to return to their respective states with the new zeal to commence proactive strategies in their cultural industries so as to explore inherent economic benefits therein.

It was equally with the same drive and enthusiasm that Akwa Ibom State boldly rose to accept the responsibility of hosting NAFEST 2016 in its State Capital, Uyo, between October 2 and 9.

This year’s theme is, Exploring the goldmine inherent in Nigeria’s creative industries.

This is the second time the state would be hosting the festival within six years, having achieved similar feat in 2010.

Meanwhile, Kaduna State has indicated interest in hosting the 2017 edition.

But before NAFEST however, the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) is also planning a bigger and better African Arts and Crafts Expo (AFAC) this year.

With the theme, African arts and crafts as catalyst for investment in Nigerian creative industry, the Expo is billed to run from July 28 to August 13 in Abuja.

Also during the technical session, Director General, Centre for Black African Arts and Civilizations (CBAAC), Dr. Ferdinand Anikwe, reminded his colleagues of the 40th anniversary of FESTAC 77, coming up next year and it was decided that commemorative events be organised to mark it.

“As a major festival that projects Nigeria’s cultural tourism destination, it is expected that a commemorative ceremony be organised to mark the event,” the delegates suggested.

Observing the annual decline in attendance at CEC meeting, culture chiefs and administrators emphasised that robust attendance was crucial to synergizing action plans among stakeholders for improved sectoral task delivery.

They also canvassed effective funding of cultural activities, stressing that it was central to improved strategies for cultural promotion and presentation while application of information technology should be embraced by all states as it serves as catalyst for easy and accelerated flow of information.

The CEC is an annual platform convened by NCAC for directors of States Arts Councils, History and Culture Bureaux, to deliberate on issues affecting the growth of arts and culture in the country.

In attendance were the Chief Executives of four federal agencies of Culture Ministry, including National Troupe of Nigeria, National Gallery of Arts, National Institute for Cultural Orientation and National Commission for Museums and Monument.

There were also 18 directors of State Council for Arts and Culture/History and Culture Bureaux, including those of the Federal Capital Territory, Anambra, Akwa-Ibom, Bauchi, Borno, Delta and Ebonyi.

Others were from Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Lagos, Niger, Ogun, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe and Kaduna states.

In her welcome address, Director General, NCAC, Mrs. Dayo Keshi, expressed need for states to redefine their strategies in line with the prevailing national realities.

“This becomes crucial as we must remain relevant by achieving the strategies needed to transform the sector for socio-economic development.

“I therefore, urge you to focus your attention on how we can redirect our programmes and activities towards revenue generation. Our primary consideration should be how to effectively tap into the economic potentials of our cultural heritage to improve grassroots development”, she said.

In view of the above, the D.G disclosed that the Council was planning towards staging at least, one regional festival each year, one from each Geo-Political zone of the country.

“It has been observed that well designed and executed festivals have a tendency of being popular among tourists and injecting revenue into the host region.

“It is also important that we as culture administrators recognise this and make efforts to replicate as many festivals as possible within our respective states and communities”, Keshi added.

Declaring the meeting open, the State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, commended the federal government on its agenda towards utilizing cultural resources for revenue generation.