By Prisca Sam-Duru
For two days, art and culture practitioners comprising writers, actors, theatre directors, movie producers, dancers etc., under the auspices of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), gathered on a digital space for a life transformational workshop.
Themed “Artist to Administrators: Bridging the Transitional Gap”, the event ended as an amazing two-day experience-based impartation from some of the best resource persons within and outside the country.
The workshop held courtesy of NANTAP in collaboration with the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) and with support from the Goethe-Institut Nigeria, British Council Nigeria and National Film and Video Censors Board.
The opening ceremony of the workshop was graced by the Director-General and CEO of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, OON; Country Director of Goethe Institut Nigeria, Ms. Friederike Moeschel; newly appointed General Manager of the National Theatre, Prof. Sunny Ododo; former President and Secretary of the NANTAP Board of Trustees, Mr. Mahmoud Balogun; and the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation, Mallam Mohammed Yahuza, who was represented by Mrs. Bridget Yerima as the Chief Host.
Addressing participants, President of NANTAP, Mr. Israel Eboh, who reiterated the spirit behind the concept and importance of the workshop, explained that it was to improve the business and management skills of practitioners, to enable them make optimal use of their skills and be able to compete favourably with their counterparts around the world.
“We want to further build the capacity of practitioners within the art and culture space beyond the exhibition of talents. We want them to have a better idea of how to successfully run their businesses, theatre companies and other art related agencies whenever they are called upon”, Mr. Eboh stated.
Mrs. Bridget Yerima reiterated NICO’s commitment to capacity building efforts adding that “I can assure you that this is only the first in the series of workshop of this nature to come. We are committed to energizing the various cultural agencies in Nigeria to move from mere practitioners to administrators”.
Barrister Elvis Asia set the ball rolling as he took the participants on an eye opening session where he delivered a lecture on ‘Entertainment Law and Ethics’, admonishing participants to begin to take contractual agreement serious, either as the ‘contractor’ or the ‘contractee’, as this legality helps ensure some level of professionalism in the sector. He gave an overview of performance rights, image rights, copyrights, piracy and other related rights within the entertainment industry.
Dr. Patrick Fohl, a German Cultural Diplomacy specialist from Goethe institute, Germany, was on hand to deliver his presentation on ‘Art as a tool for cultural diplomacy’. Dr. Fohl’s lecture elicited some feeling of frustration from the Nigerian participants as he reeled out some aspect of Germany’s cultural policy and how this policy shapes Germany’s diplomatic policy around the world.
Frustration in the sense that it exposed Nigerian government`s inactions in the cultural sector which is starved of the manner of investment and planning evident in Dr. Fohl’s Germany. He said “In Germany, art and science, research and teaching are free. Free in the sense that cultural institution in Germany enjoys a lot of funding from the government. Culture is deliberately created and funded down to the grassroots. And this includes the huge investment into infrastructural development, which is considered especially important in preserving and promoting cultural heritage.”
Professor Duro Oni`s session on ‘Leadership and Administrative Skill’, was a practical summation of the entire workshop. It was more like a review of the life of the lecturer himself, who had transformed over the years, from a young artiste, to one of the major cultural administrators in Nigeria today. In advancing his thought, the Chairman of NANTAP’s Board of Fellows identified some core attributes of creative management such as self-awareness, strong communication, and learning ability.
While Professor Mabel Evwerhoma of the University of Abuja reinforced the need to enhance cultural community, the session on Business with Joseph Edgar, a theatre entrepreneur and investment banker, popularly known as Duke of Shomolu and producer of Emotan and Aremu which recorded box office successes, was quite stimulating and engaging. Drawing from practical experiences, Edgar took the participants through strategies that appeal to investors, corporate partners, advertisers and sponsors.
The workshop was anchored by Uju Ukwu of the NICO Training School and veteran journalist and culture activist, Jahman Anikulapo.