Sanwo-Olu, Film Exhibitors, Other Stakeholders Dialogue On Reopening Of Cinemas

by Yinka Akanbi

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has reiterated his administration’s commitment to work collaboratively with the creative industry.

Sanwo-Olu, during a virtual meeting with members of the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) and key stakeholders in the film industry, said that his government would ensure that the sector thrives in the state.

The Governor expressed solidarity with stakeholders in the creative industry following the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry.

During the meeting, the film exhibitors appealed to the Governor to reopen cinemas in the state while promising to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“We are ready to open our cinemas any time today or tomorrow. Cinemas outside Lagos are already open and they are complying with all the necessary protocols. We understand that your office is being careful about health and safety of Lagosians but we also assure you that these are top considerations for us too,” Secretary of CEAN, Moses Babatope said on behalf of the association.

Filmmaker and a participant at the meeting, Omoni Oboli, appealed to the Governor to waive taxes for practitioners due to the halt in the industry’s activities occasioned by the pandemic.

She said: “Mr. Governor, we want you to help us with some tax breaks. As you may be aware sir, none of us has earned any revenue in the past six months. We want you to use your good office to help our industry.”

In his response, Sanwo-Olu said his government would continue to protect the interest of the sector, having seen its level of creativity and economic importance.

“We would work collaboratively with your industry. I am aware of the enormous challenges you face especially in this period of COVID-19 pandemic. But as you know, we have to do what is right to protect the lives and property of millions of Lagosians,” he said.

The association also solicited that the government set up a film office which will serve as a major hub for the industry in Lagos as well as a liaison with foreign investors.

CEAN, while speaking on the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown in August, had said that the industry kept losing ₦1 billion monthly, rendering employees jobless.

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