(LAGOS, NIGERIA) The Nigerian Ministry of Culture and Tourism needs to take a cue from the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment of Jamaica by establishing Entertainment Advisory Board (EAB). The main objectives of the Entertainment Advisory Board are to strengthen public-private partnership to maximize contribution of the entertainment industry to economic and social development, provide advice to the Ministry regarding key issues and strategies and in particular, the development of an Entertainment industry policy and facilitate the engagement of entertainment industry stakeholders in the policy-making process.
This report is by no means meant to rubbish or undermine the efforts of the Ministry but to point out gray areas they have not been sensitive to while the industry groans. Currently in Nigeria, the only Ministry directly or indirectly in charge of entertainment industry is the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. There is no ministry created for entertainment and other related business.
Carnivals are good and we are not disputing their essence, Abuja Carnival et al but we do not quite agree that these should enjoy the chunk of government support at the expense of the development of our local entertainment industry as a whole (music, movies and comedy inclusive), instead, lets develop more music festivals that will sell the real Nigerian culture to the world and not adopted cultures.
The Ministry, year in and year out does not have a plan for the growth of entertainment business in Nigeria. For one reason or the other, the industry has gotten used to some certain styles of language whenever entertainers approach them for support. Major entertainments events are dying because of lack of support and sponsorship. The ones that still hold annually struggle amidst all odds to make it happen.
Many of these events by now should have been adopted as National Events but the ministry has been carrying on like it is none of their business. We understand that not all events can be supported but there is a need to create a board that will be saddled solely with the responsibility of identifying the ones that possess great potentials and also advising the ministry on the best approaches towards embracing such. This is part of the works of Entertainment Advisory Board (EAB).
The Ministry is expected to promote dialogue and cooperation between the private and public sectors for the development and implementation of policies conclusive to the creation of an enabling environment. It must also provide opportunities for creative practitioners to participate in international markets to expose local talents and promote the entertainment products; raise the level of awareness and appreciation of Nigerian Culture as an entertainment product, to develop and foster synergies among Tourism & Entertainment Sectors and to facilitate institutional strengthening and capacity building.
Events that by now should have been adopted as National events and given every necessary support to thrive based on the values they add to the country’s entertainment sector include: the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), Nigerian Music Video Awards (NMVA) and The Headies. There are many more with great potentials of becoming world class events but are still struggling to stand and make impressions due to their shoe string budgets.
Every year, these few events mentioned here attract people into the country. People come from all over the world to attend AMAA. In the last six years, there have been regular faces of some foreigners at Headies, same for NMVA.
The big question is, why is the Ministry overlooking all these and have no plans to enhance or support these initiatives. There is more to developing the industry than taking only the National Troupes of Nigeria for competitions and exhibitions. The organizers of these events need government’s support and recommendations to be able to secure major sponsorship that will bankroll the expenses of these events.
Aside providing employments for creative Nigerians every year, these events constantly puts Nigeria on the world map. Another world class event similar to the Grammy or Oscar awards may very well stem out of Nigeria with immeasurable benefits to the industry and government respectively if we persevere.
Speaking during the Joy of Jazz press conference in Sandton in 2010, the initiator of the Festival went down memory lane to thank the South African Ministry of Arts & Tourism for its support when the idea berthed. They had no money and the corporate bodies were not willing to take risks with their brands as sponsors. The Ministry saw an opportunity to support an initiative that will later become a tourist attraction to the country and they lent their total support to the project. From a classroom event, the festival has grown to become one of the biggest Jazz Festivals in the world. For three consecutive nights with more than five stages in that particular year, different international Jazz artistes entertained different class of audiences.
Aside Standard Bank sponsored Joy of Jazz Festival, the contributions of South African Tourism to other events including Channel O Music Awards are quite commendable. Every year that these events have been staged, the influx of people to the country no doubt contributes in no small measure to the South African economy especially during Cape Town Jazz Festival. Sometimes getting a flight might be pretty difficult. All these events have been adopted as National events worth government support, sponsorship and encouragement especially as they help in also keeping the teeming youth population who would otherwise have been restive gainfully engaged.
Words by Seun Opara
Seun Apara is a Lagos, Nigeria based international journalist and entertainment consultant. He is one of the few professionals fanning the embers of a quiet revolution in West Africa.
NOTE:The information and views set out in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Africa Music Law or its founder.
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