By Chris Onuoha

In a bid to give the Nigeria art sector a new lease of life, experts in the creative industry has pointed way forward on how to use Nigerian art as an alternative asset for collateral in the country.

This is coming as the Ben Enwonwu Foundation (BEF) in collaboration with the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) and supported by Alliance Française Lagos has continued to bring to the front burner some vital unattended issues that have militated against the growth of the art sector in the country through a monthly interactive platform called ‘Point of View’.

Having held a successful maiden edition in the month of September tagged, “A Case for the Artist’s Resale Right in Nigeria”, with stakeholders discussing extensively the right an artist have in a resale of his works at auction houses, the second edition of the programme, held on October 17, looked into the valuation of artwork in Nigeria for better pricing.

The initiative, drawing from other creative disciplines and experiences to take a broad helicopter view of the art scene in Nigeria and Africa, aims to encourage, support and funding for the visual arts through public and private sector partnership while ensuring continuing artist’s professional development and empowerment.

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The second edition themed, ‘Raising Capital Against High Value Works of Art’ brought together a diverse line-up of artists, curators, writers, thinkers, wealth managers and policy makers. This was informed by mounting global interest on art from the continent and a steady growth of the collectors’ base within Africa and especially in Nigeria.

‘Raising Capital Against High Value Works of Art’ thus seeks to encourage the growing recognition of Nigerian art as a new alternative asset class while providing a deeper understanding of the appraising of art holdings for liquidation, and of using art as collateral for lending transactions such as financing business expansions and investments or high-end purchases.

A thought-provoking presentation on the ‘Nigerian Art Market in Transformation: New Directions in Lending, Investment and Wealth Management’ made at the platform was delivered by Bola Asiru, Co-Founder, Red Door Gallery. This came after the conference was declared open by Charles Courdent, on behalf of Alliance Française, Lagos.  Ashiru’s presentation was centred on opportunities within the growing art sector in Nigeria, as well as Nigerian art as an alternative asset class.

The evening continued with another stimulating presentation on ‘Data Driven Valuation: Improving Analysis, Financial Decisions and Investment Opportunities in the Nigerian Art Market’ made by Tayo Fagbule, Chairman, Editorial Board at BusinessDay. His presentation focused on the role of data in building and sustaining the domestic and international markets for Nigerian art.

The highlight of the event was the panel of discussion with focus: “Challenges, Risks and Regulatory Frameworks”. The panel comprised Ephraim Ajibola, who represented Prof. Koyinsola Ajayi, SAN, Managing Partner, Olaniwun Ajayi LP; Prince Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon, Founder, Yemisi  Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF); Kavita Chellaram, Chief Executive Officer, Arthouse Contemporary Limited and John Opubor, Managing Partner, Coronation Capital while Dapo Adeniyi moderated.

The discussants’ session became a charged moment when Prince Yemisi Shyllon took the floor to point out some anomalies that behedged the industry. He spoke about the regulations for a viable framework and dearth of data. He dunked the assertion that primary market in the country do not exist, citing some auction houses that give data of market sales in their catalogue. He emphasise need for proper data that will enhance valuation of art sales in Nigeria, saying that Nigerian market do not have a system in place. “What we have are individuals making thing for their glory,” Shyllon said.

He noted that Nigerian art market is still far from what it is dreaming about, but suggests hope in the process if proper steps are taken to ratify these challenges.

Other panellists however countered Shyllon’s assertions towards valuation of art as presented by John Opubor but Shyllon rebounded saying that there is a contending issues on valuation between what he calls ‘a willing buyer’ and ‘a willing seller’. He said that art pricing and valuation in Nigeria to an extent depends on how a willing seller is dealing with a non willing buyer or a willing buyer to a non willing seller. Other vital issues were treated, such as the National Gallery’s impact on the artworks in the country, cultural policies and data keeping valuating art sales.

The event was concluded by a vote of thanks by Oliver Enwonwu, Executive Director, The Ben Enwonwu Foundation, who thanked guests, partners and The Ben Enwonwu Foundation team for making this edition a success.

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Amongst invited guests were Neil Coventry, Nigerian Representative, Modern & Contemporary African Art, Bonhams, Ifeoma Ewuzie, MD, AB Artworld, Professors John Pepper and Ebun Clark, Jerome Elaiho, Victor Ehikhamenor, Ayo Akinwande, Rom Isichei, Nengi Omuku, Tony Nsofor, Sam Ebohon, Edosa Ogiugo, Uche Joel Chima, Norbert Okpu, Tega Akpokena and Ngozi Schommers.

Sponsors and partners of this edition are Jackson Etti & Edu, Lagos Paris Art, Hundids, Connect Nigeria, The Sole Adventurer, OnoBello, Red Door Gallery, Mydrim Gallery, Wildflower PR, Artyrama, and Omenka.

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