Arts and Crafts have been identified as a serious source of revenue-generation in Nigeria, which have the potential to augment the nation’s oil revenue receipts for the development of the country and for the empowerment of millions of Nigerian families.

The National Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer, NEPAD Nigeria, Princess Gloria Akobundu, who stated the above, Thursday, during a Round-table Cultural Chat of the 10th African Arts and Crafts (AFAC) Expo, which held at the Arts and Crafts Village in Abuja, stressed the need for Nigerians to maximise the economic potential inherent in arts and crafts by reasoning beyond arts and crafts as mere objects of beauty, but of economic gains.

In her words:

‘‘It is common knowledge that arts and crafts play vital roles not only in the aesthetic beauty of a nation, but in the economic empowerment of its people. Across Nigeria, diverse ethnic nationalities have one form of arts and crafts that can be used to generate revenue, even in foreign exchange. Somehow, our country, in spite of our rich cultural background, has failed to get it right in promoting our indigenous arts and crafts. We must learn from the experience of countries like Kenya, the Gambia, South Africa and even Rwanda, where in each fiscal year, billions of tourism-generated dollars help to finance their annual budgets and all we get here is a paltry $1. something million dollars’’.

While advocating for standardisation in the arts and crafts creative sector of the economy, Princess Gloria Akobundu said it was only through such a move that our locally produced materials can compete favourably with those from other climes. She emphasised the need for the formation of clusters for artisans and craftsmen in order to maximise the benefit of experience-sharing and to encourage the kind of robust competition that would bring out the best in the practitioners. The NEPAD Nigeria CEO used the occasion to urge governments at all levels to establish what she called Centres of Arts and Crafts Excellence, noting that such a Centre, apart from organising periodic competitions among artists, would help to deepen learning and output in the profession.

Earlier, while welcoming participants to the events, the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, emphasised the importance of arts and crafts as revenue earners that could change the face of the nation’s GDP. He appealed to Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government, art promoters and investors, including other corporate sponsors and partners in nation-building, to join hands with the Council to achieve the best from a sector that has all the potential to drive Nigeria’s non-oil economy.

Also speaking in a Paper entitled: ‘‘Arts and Crafts in Nigeria: the untapped Treasure’’, Professor Mabel Evwierhoma of the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Abuja, Abuja, Nigeria, emphasised the fact that the fame of every nation is hinged on the cultural manifestations that showcase its existence and that these are the concrete manifestations that attract tourists to lands far away and different from their own. The University don, also, opined that, in spite of technological innovation and advancement, which hold sway in comity of nations, the future of such nations would be bleak without arts and crafts as contributory to, or derivatives from what such nations hold as their cultural pride. She ended by saying: ‘‘A pledge to Nigeria is a pledge to culture and our ways of life. It is a resolve that can push to reveal, expose and bare the treasures that require exposure as we have come to do at this AFAC event. The diversification of the Nigerian economy is a necessary precondition for the nation to fully recover from economic recession’’.

This year’s event is the 10th Edition of what has come to be known as African Arts and Crafts Expo, which is organised annually by the National Council for Arts and Culture. The event is marked by various activities, including lectures, exhibitions, dances and other performances. Among those attending this year’s activities are the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Directors General of different Agencies and Commissions, members of the diplomatic community, bankers, arts collectors and enthusiasts, investors and many others.

The event shall end on September, the 17th.

 

Nkem Anyata-Lafia

NEPAD Nigeria

September 7th, 2017.

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