By Babajide Komolafe
The quality of creative talent abundant among Nigerians is aptly reflected in the story of the Ikorodu Boys.
The boys, comprising of three siblings and their cousin: Babatunde Sanni, Muiz Sanni, Malik Sanni, and their cousin, Fawas Aina, have gained global recognition just by making use of common household items to depict top gears used in movies. Popular among these items is the use of a local wheelbarrow to replicate luxury cars, an idea which was first exhibited by Kaptain Kush.
The global recognition of the creative talent of the Ikorodu Boys is reflected in the one million followers on their Instagram page as well as an invitation to Hollywood in the United States for the premiere of the movie, ‘Extraction 2’.
Similarly, many Nigerian musicians, actors/actresses and fashion designers have attained global prominence, leveraging the power of their creative talents. This includes Davido, Tiwa Savage, Funke Akindele, Genevive Nnaji, Burna Boy and Wizkid.
The Creative Industry
The result is a booming Creative Industry churning out movies, music albums and fashion labels that attract huge patronage from home and abroad, and in the process becoming a major contributor to the Nigerian economy.
For example, between 2016 and 2020, three movies contributed N1.3 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. The movies are Omo Ghetto by Funke Akindele, The Wedding Party by Kemi Adetiba and the Wedding Party 2, Niyi Akinmolayan.
The Creative Industry Financing Initiative
The need for concerted efforts to encourage the development and blossoming of the creative talents of many young Nigerians and thus maximise the huge potential of the creative industry as a major contributor to national GDP in terms of revenue and job creation, prompted the Bankers Committee to set up the Creative Industry Financing Initiatives (CIFI).
The goal of the CIFI is to support startups and existing businesses in the creative industry space, as well as the development of a creative industry park across 3 major cities in Nigeria.
Explaining the rationale for the proposed creative industry parks, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele said: “Our goal through the establishment of these parks is to create an environment where startups and existing businesses can be incubated and rewarded for their creativity.
“In each of these parks, efforts will be focused on discovering the most innovative young entrepreneurs across the music, movie, fashion and IT industries. “Each park will be able to support skills acquisition for over 200,000 Nigerians. These individuals will be empowered with funds at single digit interest rate, state-of-the-art tools, high level training and networks that will enable them to turn their ideas into a reality. “When they are able to achieve this objective of creating a new music product, a high-quality movie, an IT software application, or a fashionable outfit, we will work to ensure that they are able to distribute their work on a large scale around the globe.”
The National Theater
To serve as the pilot for this initiative is the development of the first creative industry park named the Lagos Creative and Entertainment Center (LCEC) around the nation’s 45 year old National Theater in Lagos State.
The choice of the National Theater for the pilot of the initiative is obvious.
The National Arts Theatre was completed in 1976 by the Obasanjo Government to host the largest the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC 77) in January 1977. It subsequently hosted some of the biggest and best musical artists from across the world. The stages were once the venue for world acclaimed theatre plays and dramas. In 1977, Stevie Wonder received his Grammy Award via satellite hook-up on the stage of the National Arts Theatre.
But the National edifice today, lies in Iganmu wasting away from decades of neglect. Due to this long years of neglect, Nigeria, which is Africa’s largest economy, is no longer considered as the destination of choice for the various important entertainments, events and concerts being hosted in Africa, instead, countries such as Rwanda (Kigali Arena- the largest indoor arena in East Africa) and Ghana are usually the preferred.
Notwithstanding the years of neglect, the National Theater still has the potential, the status and huge parcel of adjoining land to be the focal point and inspiration for millions of Nigerian youths seeking a platform and outlets to develop and showcase their creative talents.
Hence the choice of the National Theater for the citing of the Lagos Creative and Entertainment Center (LCEC). To achieve this the Bankers Committee, led by the CBN is committing N22 billion to the restoration and refurbishment of the upgrade of the National Theater and development of an ecosystem of creative hubs on the adjoining 44 Hectare parcel of land around the national icon.
The Lagos Creative and Entertainment Industry
The journey to achieving this feat took off on Saturday February 13th 2020, when the Federal Government, represented by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed handed over the National Theater to the Bankers Committee, represented by the CBN Governor, Emefiele.
The event was attended by Minister for Sports and Youths, Sunday Dare, Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Sanwo-olu and Chairman, Body of Bank CEOs Herbert Wigwe.
Speaking at the event, Governor Emefiele said: “The idea behind the project, christened: “Lagos Creative And Entertainment Centre,” is simple. Firstly, we seek to restore the glory of an iconic building by aligning most of the fabric and equipment and facilities in the building with the aesthetics of the 21st century, and secondly to develop an ecosystem of creative hubs on the adjoining 44 Hectare parcel of land. This new facility will complement and enhance the National Arts Theatre.
“The Bankers’ Committee is providing funding for a prototype cluster located to the north of the National Arts Theatre, a development which we have labelled the “Signature Cluster”. This facility will be a convenor – providing space, support network, business development and community engagement for the creative, cultural and technology sectors. The Signature Cluster will consist of a building each for Music, Film, Fashion and Information Technology verticals. In addition to these, a Welcome/Visitor’s Centre, Police and Fire Stations, and structured parking for up to 500 vehicles will be built.
“Consequently, the 44 Hectare site adjourning the National Theatre will be developed and utilised for the development of purpose-built creative hubs for the Fashion Industry, Music and Film as well as Information Technology (IT). The aim is to deliver a successful Creative and Entertainment city that will encourage additional investment into Nigeria’s creative industry.”
As indicated by Emefiele, the LCEC in will comprise the Fashion Building, the Music Building, the Film facility and the Information technology facility.
The Fashion building is a full-fledged apparel production facility with textile showroom, retail and photography spaces and teaching laboratories
The Music Building will house recording studios with all front and back-end spaces and facilities. An amphitheatre has been designed to adjoin the Music Hub in the master plan.
The Film Facility consists of stage set-up areas as well as all back-end spaces necessary for full production of films.
The Information Technology Facility consists of co-working and co-living spaces, training facilities and indoor and outdoor breakout clusters, all carefully designed to ensure that interface with the creative users is enhanced.
Impact on Economy
Speaking on how the expected contribution of the LCEC to the nation’s economy, Governor Emefiele said: “We anticipate that there would be at least 10,000 direct and indirect jobs created during the construction of the Lagos Creative & Entertainment Centre.
“We also project that over 25,000 people would be engaged in different sections of the centre when the Signature Cluster is completed, with anticipated multiplier effect of other job opportunities.”