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British Council, First Bank, Others Join Hands For The Arts

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By Abiose Adelaja Adams

Plans are underway to open up Nigeria’s creative industry for better economic productivity, whilst harnessing talents of young people, a private sector partnership revealed on Thursday.

The plan, which is to produce a policy document that will provide an insight as well as serve as an information and research tool, is the initiative of the British Council, the United Kingdom’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities, in collaboration with Generational Voices and First Bank, with the latter being the financial partner.

Speaking in Lagos at a media forum, Reginald Bassey, team lead of Generational Voices, said that the intention of the initiative is to genuinely create a manifesto for the sector, which he believes has suffered setbacks due to insufficient attention.

“The idea is to produce a Green Paper, a bible of some sort which captures all information about the creative industry, that the upcoming generation can tap into. It may not be authoritative, but at least a document anyone interested in the industry can work with,” he stated.

The Green Paper will also capture the profile and dynamics of the creative industry in Nigeria such as trends, way forward for the sector, aspirations of young people and innovative ideas that will make a real difference to the economy and society.

“Creative industry in Nigeria is just a fraction of our GDP meanwhile that of the USA is bigger than Nigeria’s GDP, ” he observed.

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Estimating the country’s potentials, statistics from United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, rated Nigeria’s home video Industry as the world’s second largest film industry with its potential annual revenue of N522 billion.

Similarly, over 2,000 movies are produced per annum with a viewing audience of over 200 million across Africa and beyond.

The British Council’s representative on the project, tagged ‘Growth Strategies in the Nigerian Creative Industry’, Fusi Olateru-Olagbegi, expressed optimism about the project.

“It is part of our core values to provide platforms for young people especially in arts and culture, so we believe this will make a difference and contribute to policy making process for Arts in the country,” he said.

Potentials in the Nigerian creative industry, classified as comprising Nollywood (movies), performing arts, fashion, visual arts, advertising, TV and broadcast media, arts and antique, publishing, remains largely untapped.

Evidently, the recent interest expressed by actors in taking up political ambitions suggests an economic downturn in the sector forcing them to seek such options.

Bassey believes that the domestic markets is still emerging and a set of strategic, structural and regulatory elements still need to be introduced to overcome barriers to business development and trade, reduce / ameliorate the effects of piracy, and build a culture of entrepreneurialism across the sector.

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“But with this initiative, we can begin to chart our course on how we can grow the industry for better outputs,” Bassey opined.

The process of formulating the policy document involves sharing ideas with the stakeholders in the industry, the media and crowdsourcing ideas, after which three face-to-face events in Lagos, Abuja, and Calabar, will be held.

“We are very proud to support the initiative. We thought what better way to engage our youths in projecting our heritage,” said Bridget Oyefeso- Odusanmi, First Bank’s head of Sponsorship and Event.

According to the trio, the first two meetings have held. At the media forum, its website (www.gentalkscreative.com) was launched for the purpose of crowdsourcing ideas for the next 30 days after which the green paper will be put together and released.

“We hope to get the paper out by December 2014, hopefully,” Bassey said.

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