By Emmanuel Elebeke

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said Wednesday, that the Federal Government has concluded plans to amend the Act establishing the National Endowment for the Arts to enable it play a pivotal role in responding to the demands of the sector, which has been negatively impacted by COVID-19 pandemic.

Mohammed disclosed this in Abuja yesterday while speaking at the Virtual Forum of the African Union Ministers responsible for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

He said: ‘’We have decided to amend the Act establishing the National Endowment for the Arts so it can better meet the demands of the sector, which has been greatly impacted by the pandemic.

‘’The main objectives of the Endowment is to support every medium and area of creative activity in the art, culture and heritage sector as well as to foster professional excellence in the sector.”

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Mohammed, who doubles as the 2nd Vice Chairperson of the African Union’s 3rd Specialized Technical Committee on Youth, Culture and Sport, said the creative industry remained the worst hit by COVID-19 pandemic because it is audience-centered. He noted that with the social distancing, ban on mass gathering and travel restrictions put in place globally, the fortunes of the industry had taken a nose-dive.

The minister said: “This is why we have decided to face the challenges squarely. Realizing the imperative of having a collective and  government-supported approach in dealing with the situation, we have set up a 22-member stakeholders committee, cutting across art, culture, heritage, tourism, streaming, music, film, etc.,  to come up with immediate, short and long term economic stimulus and initiatives  for the industry, in order to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on the sector.”

He said the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, had also set aside N50 billion for smallholder businesses and the creative industry to support the industry in the post COVID-19 era.

“I have no doubt that the measures we are putting in place will yield positive results in sustaining the creative industry in Nigeria in the days to come.
‘’I also look forward to sharing in the experiences from other member-nations of the African Union in tackling the challenges occasioned by the pandemic,” said Mohammed.


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