By Lari Williams
The true professional artist believes it is a calling, therefore, an assignment by the Creator. The creative mind is triggered off into an irrepressible current of inspired mind. The ultimate assignment is equipped with a workshop to create joy, appoint laughter and to cheer and relax the spirit and the soul of man and therapeutically propel peace into man’s existence. Life with art accommodates and generates tolerance and also suppresses the fury of hatred.
Can you imagine life with barks and no laughter, pictures without colour, or horrors with no humour? A masquerade world of individuality. It is only the uncultured rich that swears to destroy entertainment when the artist sweats to create entertainment in humour – comedy, graphics, fine arts, sculpture, movies, performing arts, dance, drama, music all in fulfillment of the assignment from the creator. These are too many to eradicate like vermin. Let’s get together to make a good world better and sweeter. Keep the arts alive.
Sad to say, it has been an uphill task for the assigned artists in Nigeria. “He is ostracized by his family, outcast by society and cheapened by the rich.” Let this nation embrace him, so that together we can harvest the seed of talent and endowment bestowed through him to Nigeria. Oil is small, Art is the Baba; wells may dry, man is world forever. It has worked for many other nations. Is it that Nigeria is too busy to relax?
The artist lives with the hope of fulfillment yet without assurance of gratuity before his end. It hurts but he cries in the rain so no one sees his tears. The Nigerian performing artist was tolerated during the colonial era with a permit called the “Beggars’ license”. Since independence, he has been allowed to operate free. Now the Arts as a profession is commercialized but not organized. Let the government structure the Arts and we will have a giant industry.
The artist suspects a conspiracy to kill the Arts, because there have been too many signs to make suspect so. Yet the artist is determined to survive and fight to keep art alive and be fulfilled in the assignment. Reggae and Hip-hop artists seem to brave the unseen threats and painters’ long gray beards cannot afford the scissors or shavers; if they cannot kill the industry they seem to be determined to erase and blot out the artist from the nation with no salary, no gratuity, no endowment fund, and no future.
Some of the pioneer artists have passed on to the great beyond “unsung”. The ones alive have weakened will-power to create from poor empty pockets. Nigeria arts lovers under the banner of the National Council for Arts and Culture still managed to score a first in the arts circle worldwide by creating a truly supportive umbrella for the Nigerian artist by establishing the first enabling environment for the artist tagged the “Artists Village”, the first in Africa.
I have not known of any other through America and Europe. I only knew and visited Hollywood in California, Elstree and Pine wood studios in England. In my visits I checked out Broadway USA and west end in England. The Artists Village at the National Theatre complex in Iganmu is truly a step in the right direction towards the survival of Arts in Nigeria.