RUNNING a business, especially one that pertains to the arts, can be as taxing as any other. Although a lot of people may not be connoisseurs of art, people have begun to sit up and take notice of it so as to improve the growth of the arts in Nigeria.
The Business side of art may have recently been brought into the lime light by a lot of people, one of which is Ora Ataguba who runs Weave & Co gallery in Lagos. Weave & Co is an arts gallery which encompasses a wide range of arts and crafts. Interestingly enough, 90% of the arts found in this gallery are made in Nigeria even though they stock, produce and collect all kinds of art from different places.
By Anino Aganbi
WHY did you choose to go into arts as a business?
It chose me. As at the time I went to school, I didn’t study a particular course because I wanted to do a certain thing in the future. Somewhere along the line, I discovered I had the flair for arts.
Arts was something I found myself in through the love for it although it wasn’t something I discovered by myself. I was involved in all bits and pieces of things I could lay my hands on to do.
At some point, I used to design and make clothes. I also did soft furnishing for a while. I was interested in doing all types of things that are arts related. Somewhere along the line, I got into a business relationship which blossomed into setting up an arts gallery.
How would you say Nigerians react to Arts and galleries as opposed to other countries?
Well, we have been labeled a lot of things. People say galleries are expensive or are for foreigners. In my own opinion, a gallery is a collection of exquisite arts. It’s a collection of things that you won’t necessarily find on the street or in other places.
It is for a select people, it’s a specialized kind of business. You do not expect the general public to come in here. You are looking for people who appreciate the quaint, that which is different and unusual.
They are looking for something that is special, different, and unusual. Those are the kind of people you find who come in here and have chit chat with us while they are looking around. But then, the gallery also is for the upwardly mobile, if you have travelled a lot, then you would have seen lots of places, homes, different kinds of interior decorations, I want to believe then when you come back home, your taste would have been tweaked.
The reaction of people is kind of growing. You have fewer connoisseurs of art, but when those people come in, it makes a welcome change in the business. More people are getting interested in arts.
Creating awareness to the public…
I have been in this business for quite a while. We reinvented ourselves and started Weave & Co in 2009. I have spent a lot of time trying to perfect what I do by trying to make sure quality speaks for me. I think that when your quality and service speaks for you, there is no advert that is as good as that.
Advertising costs money, therefore we are working on our brands and products and making sure that we have things in order. A lot of Nigerian businesses have issues. When you get close, you begin to realize that it is not what it looks like from afar. We have exhibitions on regular basis and we do have events from time to time. I believe that is good enough for now.
Making impact on the lives of youths….
We will have to define art first. Art is a form of expression; it is God inspired and is something we all have in us.
For the youths, I think that to come to terms with art is like a realization of what the whole earth is really all about. The universe itself and the way it functions is very artistic When youths come in touch with their artistic side, they begin to realize there is more to life than just making some money.
It gives deeper meaning to life because it is like a creation of your hands. It is like something that was created and because you were gifted to do that, it becomes unique to you. By having a business like this, it inspires a lot of youths to realize that you can come out of the mold and do some things that inspired from within.
It makes a lot of youths become creative because they see it is possible to make money from stuff like this as against just thinking that we must be in an office to make money. I also think it inspires creativity that may be lying latent within you.
Is arts something the government should take an interest in?
Of course, because it is selling its people. The government should take what interests the people. We need more support in taking the arts out for it to be sold. We have Chinese food in Nigeria and it is so popular.