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NGA boss blames lack of extant act for agency’s poor performance

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Ebeten Ivara


The Director General of National Gallery of Arts, Mr. Ebeten Ivara, has said the poor visibility the agency has faced is as a result of the extant act establishing it. He said the Act has made it difficult for the agency to fully harness its potential.

He, therefore, pledged commitment to ensuring that the process of amendment of the Act, which has passed second reading at the National Assembly, is followed vigorously.

“I want to state clearly that NGA has not been able tap its potentials. This is not because subsequent chief executives did not try hard enough. Indeed, I commend their untiring efforts to make NGA a viable entity.

“But they were hamstrung by the very Act establishing the parastatal which made it service oriented and not revenue driven.”Ivara noted that having studied the situation carefully, he was convinced that amending the Act will be a starting point in making NGA contribute meaningfully to the general well-being of artists in the country as well as generate revenue for the Federal Government.

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“Efforts made by NGA in the past in this direction will be fast tracked under my leadership to ensure the amendment sails through. I intend to carry along all stakeholders especially the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), Association of Gallery Owners of Nigeria (AGAN), collectors, teachers and even students.”

Once the amendment is effected to the old Act, the D.G said one of the first steps would be statutory embellishment of public buildings and bridges with works of art

“A particular percentage of the construction cost would set aside for that purpose”, he stated. He listed further benefits of the act, when amended, to include engaging visual artists in urban and rural areas productively to produce art works for this purpose of embellishing public structures and bridges alone; explosion in studio practice; increase in visual art practice, entrepreneurship and mentoring.

“It will also facilitate the release of the much needed fund to reposition visual art as a viable discipline for young people to embrace and enable it contribute broadly to Nigeria’s GDP”, he said.

On the lingering quest for a standard gallery, he decried that Nigeria appeared one of the few countries in Africa and the world that lacked befitting edifice as its national gallery.

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“The result is that most of the art works in the national collection are kept in unconducive environment. “Just last week when I toured offices of NGA here in Abuja, I was shocked when I saw how the few art works were crammed in a store. I can only imagine the state of most of our art works in the store on Entrance B of National Theatre, Lagos.

“This situation cannot continue. I am determined to ensure that NGA gets a befitting edifice at the shortest possible time.
“Besides having a conducive environment to display our art works, visual artists will now have alternative spaces to exhibit their works. In the same vein, government will begin to earn revenue as fees will be charged visitors who come to view the art works on permanent and temporary exhibitions.”

To facilitate this process, he said the past management of NGA had met with the committee in charge of recovering of stolen funds and property as well as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to see if any of the properties permanently forfeited would be released to the agency. According to him, the removal of former EFCC boss halted the process. He, however, assured that talks will soon resume with the new boss to see whether a befitting structure will be released to the agency. The D.G also assured that sculpture garden would be made available for sculptors to work.

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