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Terra Kulture as model for theatre projects in Nigeria

By OSA AMADI

The future of creative industries in Nigeria examining the country’s recent investments in the arts was explored on the CNN program, Marketplace Africa, recently.

Terra Kulture theatre

Bola Austen-Peters, the former attorney who founded Terra Kulture, center for arts and performance, in 2013 after discovering there was a distinct lack of performance spaces in Nigeria, told CNN: “Unfortunately, we don’t have many places like this in Nigeria.

I think [this is] probably the only one right now that can give you the full technicals and this kind of space to perform.”

The performance space has been successful since its opening, having produced many shows which have toured internationally. Additionally, the center has proven to be lucrative for local businesses with the 400-seat theatre as part of a larger complex that includes a restaurant and an art gallery.

The venue is performing so well that Lagos state government is aiming to replicate it across the state. Steve Ayorinde, Lagos State commissioner for Information and Strategy says “There are six theatre projects that (we) are embarking on. We thought that if we can partner with Terra Kulture to recreate this sort of model in all five divisions in Lagos State, it will be a win-win.”

Each new complex is being constructed with a budget of around one million dollars and Austen-Peters has been contracted by the government to oversee the developments.  Why is the government making such a significant investment?

“I think increasingly people are realising that the arts are a vehicle for employment and that a lot of money can be generated in Nigeria from [it],” Bola explains.

Olukayode A. Pitan, Bank of Industry CEO, also explains the numerous potential of the industry, particularly when it comes to employment: “It’s a large, growing area that employs a lot of Nigerians. We are happy to be part of those who are making it happen.”

Ayorinde confirms that these investments will benefit employment rates: “There are millions and millions of our youths looking for jobs. There are jobs waiting in the creative sector and this is the reason we are embarking on this [project].”

The Bank of Industry has recently made many investments in entertainment projects across the country. Pitan says this has already been successful: “It’s not only the films we finance, we finance film houses, theatres, [and] the equipment. So when you look at the whole value chain, as a bank we are making money.”

Nigerians are beginning to place value on all aspects of the creative industry, as many realise it’s not just Nollywood that has business potentials. President Buhari even included the creative industry in his economic recovery plan and believes the sector will play a larger role in diversification of Nigeria’s economy.

The Bank of Industry values the sector at about three billion dollars, but Lagos government believes the economic impact can be far greater.

Not only is Terra Kulture attractive to investors in terms of employment, the business model as a whole is extremely profitable. According to Bola, “It was important that we established a model that can sustain itself.

And the multifaceted nature of what we built here – the gallery, the restaurant, the theatre space… All of that comes together to sustain the space.”

Using this model for inspiration, the six new complexes being built by the Lagos State Government are expected to open in the middle of 2018.


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