The National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) and the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) recently held a two-day intensive capacity building workshop for creatives.
The training, with support from the Goethe Institut, British Council and National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) was for writers, actors, theatre directors, movie producers, dancers, and other allied art practitioners.
It was themed ‘Artist to Administrators – Bridging the Transitional Gap’ and held on Zoom. Uju Ukwu of the NICO Training School and culture activist, Jahman Anikulapo, anchored the workshop.
Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe; Country Director, Goethe Institut, Friederike Moeschel; General Manager, National Theatre, Prof. Sunny Ododo, and former President and Secretary of the NANTAP Board of Trustees, Mahmoud Balogun attended the opening. The Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation, Mallam Mohammed Yahuza, who was represented by Mrs Bridget Yerima, also participated.
Welcoming participants, President of NANTAP, Israel Eboh, explained that the training was to “build the capacity of practitioners within the art and culture space, beyond the exhibition of talents.” He added that it was also to enable them to “have a better idea of how to run their businesses successfully, theatre companies and other art-related agencies.”
Speaking, the Executive Secretary of NICO reiterated the Institute’s commitment to capacity-building efforts. “We are committed to energising the various cultural agencies in Nigeria to move from mere practitioners to administrators,” Yahuza affirmed.
With participants drawn from NANTAP chapters across the country and institutional participation from the NCAC, NICO, National Theatre, and Lagos Council for Arts and Culture among others, the training had a total of seven sessions, with seasoned resource persons.
In a lecture on ‘Entertainment Law and Ethics’, Barrister Elvis Asia admonished participants to take contractual agreements seriously, either as the ‘contractor’ or the ‘contractee’. He explained that this would help ensure some level of professionalism in the sector. Asia also gave an overview of performance rights, image rights, copyrights, piracy and other related rights within the entertainment industry.
Professor Duro Oni’s session on ‘Leadership and Administrative Skill’ was a practical summation of the entire workshop. The Chair of NANTAP’s Board of Fellows identified some core attributes of creative management such as self-awareness, strong communication, and learning ability. “There is one thing that has propelled my life and career, and that is self-improvement efforts. How much are you improving yourself towards the leadership goal? Productivity, focus and mentoring are important in all of these.”
Mercy George-Igbafe of Leantor, who spoke on ‘Performing Arts and the Social Media in Marketing and Advocacy’ rounded off the first day’s proceedings.
The following day, Dr Patrick Fohl, a German cultural diplomacy specialist from the Goethe Institut, Germany, made a presentation on ‘Art as a tool for cultural diplomacy’.
The lecture elicited some frustration from the participants as he disclosed some aspect of Germany’s cultural policy and how this policy shapes Germany’s diplomatic policy around the world.
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.”
Contributing, Professor Mabel Evwerhoma of the University of Abuja reinforced the need to enhance the cultural community. She argued that this would help to arouse cultural consciousness in the people, hence, growing the community. Evwerhoma noted that “Development needs to start at the local level. Issues of culture are beyond tourism and profit. Hence, there is need to rejig the cultural policy along this line. This impetus is what would help internationalise our culture.”.
Theatre producer and investment banker, Joseph Edgar, took the participants through strategies that appeal to investors, corporate partners, advertisers and sponsors. His presentation was entitled ‘Business and Financial Strategies for Marketing Nigerian Arts Locally and Globally.’
Professor of Theatre and Communications at the Nasarawa State University and Nigerian President of the International Association of Theatre Critics, Emma Dandaura in his lecture titled ‘Overview of Cultural Administration in Nigeria’, highlighted administrative challenges as one of many issues of Nigeria’s cultural sector.
While referencing the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo as the only one that came close to understanding the needs of the cultural sector in Nigeria in terms of funding, policy development and management, he called out the National Assembly. He said congress plays an unhealthy role in the management of the allocated fund. “Each time you see N10m voted to a cultural agency, they hardly have access to N2m of such amount because of the interference of the members of the National Assembly in the name of constituency project.”
The plenary session featured General Manager of Terra Kulture, Joseph Umoibom, Head of Programme at the British Council, Fusi Olateru-Olagbegi, and filmmaker Femi Odugbemi.
Umoibom, drawing from his experience at Terra Kulture and BAP Productions, emphasised the need to ensure corporate governance and record-keeping. Odugbemi also affirmed the importance of corporate governance and advised participants against running their companies as ‘family’ entities. On his part, Olateru-Olagbegi explained what grant-giving organisations look for whenever they call for applications.
On the whole, it was two days of enlightenment for the creatives.