With plans at an advanced stage on the completion of Jel’osimi Art Centre (JAC) and Sobayo Abolore Art Foundation (SAAF} in Lagos, a visual artist and the Creative Head of Ore Apparel, Abolore Shobayo has charged the Federal Government to do more by setting up an art endowment fund which can spur growth in the sector.
Shobayo in a chat with The Culture Newspaper called on government to play its part in creating a conducive environment for Art in Nigeria to thrive by creating an endowment fund.
“Government needs to do a lot more to encourage the creative sector. The first thing is to have an art endowment fund that will enable art practitioners to create more works, to create a conducive environment. Also, government should build more art centers, art studios. Arts is our biggest import apart from crude oil. This is why you see our creative personalities making waves all over the world. Government needs to do more by creating the enabling environment for artists to thrive” he said.
He further revealed that it was due to government’s failure to do the needful that is spurring individuals to set up private art centers.
‘Art centers like this should be built by the government and not by individuals. It is when government is not doing what it should and as individuals, we understood the impact that things like this can have on the community that we are taking it upon ourselves to do this” he said.
He also decried the level of Art appreciation in the society while sharing the experience of the look of shock and surprise that has greeted the building of the art center.
“I think the awareness is low. I remember the reaction that greeted my decision to study Arts at the tertiary institution and how my mum said it was a job for the lazy, it took them a while to realize that it is not as easy as they thought it is. I have had to answer many questions from curious neighbours and passersby who ask me what I want to do here and whenever I respond that it is an art centre, I can see the surprise/shock on their faces. We need to create more art centers, we need to do a lot of art enlightenment. I am even proposing that we should have art appreciation as a part of the secondary and university curriculum so that it will give more people an understanding of arts. People need to know, we need to do a bit of enlightenment for them to understand the value of art” he said.
He went on to say this low level of understanding of art education is depriving many of taking advantage of the huge potentials in the sector.
“In other climes, artworks are being used as investment, it can be used as collateral. Works by veterans like Ben Enwonwu and other contemporary artists can be used as collateral in the banks because of their high value. So, we need more art education. We will keep enlightening people with centers like this, we will be engaging kids and youths and on some occasions, we will have art classes for the elderly people too, this will give them more understanding. You can tell that things have changed from what it used to be, we have witnessed more galleries coming up, and things are not as it used to be. The Nigerian art scene has witnessed some growth, we’ve seen individuals building state of the art museums, it is a gradual process and with conscious effort, the appreciation of the people towards arts will continue to increase” he added.
Shobayo revealed to TCN that the need to create an environment for creativity and artistic expression to thrive by engaging youths and children and luring them away from social violence in order to create positive social change was responsible for setting up the creative center.
“I am just trying to contribute my quota to building the society by starting with my community. I realize that there is a lot of problem in the society and I am trying to use arts to change the mindset of our youth so that we can have a better and safer society. We hope to open up our doors soon with programmes like monthly art exhibitions, residencies, art classes, masterclasses, mentorship/ leadership programmes, to mention a few. Research has shown that kids that don’t study arts will have something missing in their adulthood and as we all know, creativity is the next innovation, creativity should be part of everything that we do” he added.