By Larry Williams
Build Entertainment Industry and Business into this total re-branding of Lagos Metropolis. Step out of Lagos for a few days, step back in and there is a remarkable change. Roads are wider and cleaner, traffic flow is improved, Estates springing out of swamps, music blaring from road side shops to blend with the hooting, screeching, and revving announcement into Eko-Lagos.
The jungle jangle looks of Oshodi has lost all the junks leaving a scenic sanity of a world class business metropolis and Lagos lovers are laughing in the joy of brightness and beauty. A Beautiful Lagos will be tourists joy and a businessmen’s pleasure tour if the grandmaster of this new look will see to it that Entertainment is built into the foundation of this great improvement.
Lagos has the natural endowment already. If Nnamdi Azikiwe street is made into an Entertainment boulevard, to flow into Tinubu Square to embrace Glover Memorial Hall, all seated with well furnished cinema houses, Entertainment centres for Variety shows in cabaret.
One of Nigeria’s best Entertainments is Dances and we have enough to showcase them in rows of Dance Halls for fees tantalizing, so too are “live” stage plays, allowing them run in the auditoria for a good length of time to create a tradition and build a trade.
With the improvement of waterways, such development can take tourists to the spotted islands around this great city such as Imoren, Ibeshe, Ibasa, Ikare, etc. and Lagos lovers will roar in peace and laugh in love. Maybe the Lagos State Government should bid to buy the National Theatre over, before it becomes a national pool of tears.
It is standing still in a whirlwind, turbulence enough to heave it into a social and national disaster. There have been talks about selling it to private business, and artists have protested profusely, matched with placards hollering, but it only stopped the sale not set the sail, for the entertainment voyage for which it is built.
The main bowl of the great and magnificent Bulgarian architecture has not had an audience breath for nearly two decades and from the feel and look of things is not likely to do so for many more years if the two billion naira proposal for the repair of the central air conditioning is not met. Talk about inflation, the magnificent edifice was built for 75 million naira, now it is estimated to cost N 2b (two billion naira) to replace the air conditioner in one hall only.
For the Federal Government, it is a national monument. It merits need and sewed its purpose at the World Festival, then it was in the national capital, now that things have changed and Abuja is the capital, it might as well be sold or dismantled and re-assembled at Abuja. England sold London Bridge to America and it was moved.
We have a cultured, artist on the driving seat as Culture Minister. Let this nation take advantage of his expertise and personal endowment to allow him build the industry. We believe that if his budget is met, he can restore the dreams of the founding Fathers to build an Entertainment Industry that can make Nigeria’s revenue and financial draw from Entertainment triple that of oil.
Nigeria has the best and greatest amount of talent in Entertainment in the world if encouraged to practice the art as it should be. Oil wells may dry but Nigerians are breeding talents daily in dancers, actors, sculptors, painters, photographers, singers. Let these talents see the light of the commercial world and turn their skill into currencies for Nigeria.
Arts Councils are merely administrative agents. Let the government encourage pools of performers in groups of dancers, repertory theatre companies, drummers, actors and designers (fashion and stage), lighting and audio experts to work as professional bodies and produce works that will re-brand this nation and exploit the world’s market.
We may have a blue print that can develop theatre into a giant wheel of cultural tradition in Nigeria. America’s stage culture is waxing everyday what with Broadway, off Broadway, off off Broadway and people still book ahead to watch live shows.
With a bit of restructuring the Government can enforce little changes that can improve on the quality of our screen plays. Let the stage practitioners be encouraged and from their improved existence will come professional actors that will build the Screen Industry of Cinema. Stage is the cradle of professional performing Arts.