The Nigerian government says it will invest more in the creative arts industry to generate employment for the nation’s teeming youth population.
The government also says it will provide an enabling environment for artistes to thrive as part of efforts to diversify the economy by stimulating the growth of small scale businesses in the art sector.
The Minister of Information and culture, Lai Mohammed, gave theses assurances when he paid a visit to the National Arts village in Lagos on Monday.
His visit is sequel to the demolition of structures and artefacts in the Nigerian Arts Village last month.
The demolition which was alleged to have been at the behest of another government agency has generated tension in the arts village as a result of the huge loss of valuables and injuries sustained by artists in the village during the demolition exercise.
According to the minister, “the artistes’ village is here to stay. This is not a time to discourage the initiative of the creative artist. The artist village is underdeveloped and the government needs to do much more to upgrade and develop the arts village”.
The minister also promised that the government would construct a more befitting arts village that can boast of modern studios,theatres and rehearsal halls as well as an auction house where art works can be exhibited.
“We all have to travel today to the United Kingdom or Dakar to auction our art works, this government during my tenure as minister will create a market and build a befitting auction house in this arts village”.
The information and culture minister assured artistes that the government appreciates the high economic value of the creative arts industry, noting that the creative arts industry has the potential to put food on the table of many Nigerians.
“I am sure that if we properly develop the artistes’ village, there will be less pressure on the government by those who want employment. The people in the arts village are self employed and could even be employers of labour, so why can’t we encourage them to help us, I think we need to pay more attention to arts and culture, it could be more lasting than the oil industry”.
Mr. Lai Mohammed further stressed the significance of arts and culture as an image boosting industry for the country, next only to sports.