The Creative Arts and Culture industry in Nigeria is becoming increasingly relevant to the economic well being of the nation. Recent trends have shown that industries of the 21st century will rely on the generation of knowledge through creativity, innovation and exploitation of a nation’s resources. In just a few short years, the preconceived notions of Nigeria have changed, facilitated by the advent of a flourishing cultural, social and economic development. Nigeria is on the verge of tapping into this sector more vigorously to realize more development and fulfilling its full potential.
As one of the largest and most diverse African countries geographically, socially and culturally, Nigeria must diversify her mono-economy from oil and the creative industry is well-positioned to be part of the process of transformation. Sound policies, targeted investment and global partnerships in the Nigerian creative industries can have a significant impact on the nation’s economy.
Traditionally, the term ‘creative industries’ has covered sectors such as advertising, design, performing arts and visual arts. Increasingly it includes new types of work, bringing these sectors together with technological innovation and new communication platforms. This means you could be working in areas such as computer games incorporating original music and film content or websites that includes TV, animation and music.
The subsectors as defined in this publication comprise performing and literary arts; design; fashion and beauty; film and photography; visual arts and crafts; music and museum and culture. While each subsector may have areas of work unique to it, the subsectors often have a symbiotic relationship with each other. Each subsector continues to develop and evolve new methods and skills that require continuous self improvement and training by practitioners in the field. Skills and expertise cut across several subsectors. In effect a fashion designer may not only produce clothes for the runway or fashion show, s/he can be involved as a costume designer for a movie set.
CONTEMPORARY TRENDS IN THE INDUSTRY
Nigerian music and movies are gaining traction all over Africa and beyond. The increasing popularity that has been garnered by our music and movie industry creates an opportunity for potential global partnership. A once ignored sector, the creative arts and culture industry may just hold the key to our collective future.
Nigeria made its entrance into modern film with a film known as Living in Bondage. This movie which hit the market in 1992 marked a turning point in the Nigerian film industry and heralded the trend in modern day movie making in Nigeria.
Today the film industry, popularly called Nollywood, is the largest movie industry in Africa, and the third largest in the world (after Hollywood and India’s Bollywood). Nollywood is also one of the biggest employers of labour in the country, providing up to one million job opportunities indirectly. It produces more than 2,000 movies each year and brings in a whooping $250 million in profit. Globally the film and entertainment industry generated more than N14.3 trillion in 2010 and by mid 2012 more than N16.2 trillion. In Nigeria, Nollywood has brought in N126.4 billion in the last three years.
The Nigerian Creative Arts and Culture Industry has, over the years, emerged as a powerful means of engagement across Africa and globally. Everywhere one turns, Nigerian movies dominate TV screens and cinemas across the continent. The products of Nollywood are increasingly being exported to the first world and there is also a strong Latin American and Caribbean following for Nollywood.
Music has always been an important part of the creative arts and culture scene. Early Nigerian music was greatly influenced by one’s cultural and ethnic background. In Western Nigeria juju, apala, fuji, were the popular genres of music; in the eastern part of the country highlife was dominant while in Northern Nigeria the music was influenced by Arab and Islamic cultures. These early artists had to compose, perform and record their music with live bands.
Nigerian music was at the forefront of fusing native rhythms with other imported African music to develop its own music identity. Today with digital technology music is a lot different requiring less input to produce the rhythms of the day.
The rapid rate at which Nigerian music is being exported has given the country an opportunity to define pop-culture globally – what people wear, what music they dance to and how they dance, slangs young people use etc., not just in Africa, but across the world.
Nigerian musical acts are attracting global recognition. At the BET awards in 2011, African big shots and Nigeria’s biggest musical exports, 2Face Idibia and Mohits’ D’banj, won the award for ‘Best International Act’. More and more Nigerian artistes are collaborating with foreign musicians as a way of getting their music out there to a wider audience. In 2012, Femi Kuti was nominated for two Grammy awards.
Fela! has been one of the more popular shows on Broadway and around the world. The show was about the life of Fela Kuti, a Nigerian who was a multi-instrumentalist musician and composer. He was the pioneer of Afrobeat music, a human rights activist, and a political maverick. The show sold over 800,000 tickets worldwide with $50 million generated in revenue, and was nominated for several awards. All across the globe, our music artistes and performers are being recognized while our music plays on across cafes and pubs (as far away as) in Europe and North America.
Nigerians have always been proud of their traditional costumes, wearing them proudly at occasions both locally and internationally. Post independence in the 60s, Western fashion was seen as being for the elite and accepted as the mode of dressing for business and formal events. But by the mid 80s when government introduced austerity measures, the cost of imported ready-made clothes (prêt-a-porter) became too expensive and Nigerians began to look inwards. This was the turning point for the fashion industry. The use of locally produced materials (mainly Ankara, adire, traditional hand woven materials) became more acceptable and this led to the growth of the fashion industry and afrocentric designs.
Since then industry has continued in its development. Labels such as Tiffany Amber, Jimi King, Deola Sagoe and Chris Aire, the jewellery designer are very well known beyond our shores and they cater to celebrities the world over. The industry entices young and old across the country to join in to express themselves through their creativity. As a result, not only clothes making but other related areas like shoes, bags, jewellery, hats have also grown exponentially.
PERFORMING AND LITERARY ARTS
The art of storytelling has long been part of life in villages and the rural areas. With education, writing these stories and folklores was taken up by those who wanted to record these tales and create fiction. Many writers have won acclaim both locally and internationally. Wole Soyinka became the first African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, Chinua Achebe has had his book Things Fall Apart translated into 50 languages and many other writers J.P.Bekederemo (J.P.Clark), Elechi Amadi, Ben Okri have gained recognition and won prizes for their writing. A new crop of writers such as Chiamanda Adichie, Heblon Habila and more recently Chika Unigwe are now emerging and publishing books that are winning prizes such as Commonwealth Writers Prize, Booker Prize, NLNG Prize for literature.
In the performing arts, the 1960s saw many travelling drama groups especially in the South West of the country where famous and popular dramatists such as Hubert Ogunde, Duro Ladipo carried their craft to several towns and to the rural areas. These shows eventually suffered a lull by the early 70s. Drama productions were mainly performed in large cities and usually on university campuses.
However by the 90s more productions were staged as more organisations became involved and new venues emerged. In Lagos places such as the Muson, Terra Culture are now venues for regular performances.
Classical music, jazz, dance troupes have also had a revival more so as many foreign embassies invite their nationals to perform in Nigeria. The British Council, Goethe Institute, Alliance Francaise, United States embassy and others from time to time have performances in Lagos and Abuja.
MUSEUM and CULTURE
Nigeria is known worldwide for her cultural heritage. It is a country rich in history with many archaeological finds such as Nok Sculpture, Benin Bronze and Ife Heads which have been seen in exhibitions in foreign museums.
New trends are evolving on a regular basis in this subsector. Apart from the age long traditional Durbar, Argungu Fishing and Eyo festivals, a number of state governments have introduced carnivals and other types of festivals to boost local tourism. The Abuja carnival, The Lagos State Easter Carnival and Calabar Carnival are now fixtures on the country’s cultural calendar. Private specialist museums such as that on Fela Kuti are also opening up all over the country.
VISUAL ARTS and CRAFTS
Historically, visual arts was only introduced into the school curriculum in 1927and a revolution to change the art style from ancient traditions to western style art in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Known as New African Art, it is a mixture of traditional and modern art which began in the College of Arts and Science Technology, Zaria. It later spread to other arts schools. The main players were Yusuf Grillo, Uche Okeke, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Dennis Nwoko and others.
Most contemporary Nigerian artists are grouped according to the Art School they attended, thus you have Zaria school, Yaba School, Nusukka School, Ife School, Auchi school etc.
Apart from these formal art schools there also exists informal ones where training is acquired through a system of apprenticeships; there are two noticeable ones Mbari Mbayo Oshogbo school and Ori-Olukun Ife school.
Whilst a lot has been achieved, there is still some work to do, for example, getting Nollywood content on the screens in American cinemas, having our photographers given more international exposure, having our graphic designers engaged to work for high-end technology companies like Apple.
There is no doubt that the Nigerian Creative Arts and Cultural Industry face certain challenges such as a) enforcement of Copyright and Intellectual Property laws, b) limited access to finance, c) capacity building d) creating proper distribution channels e) weak or nonexistent regulatory bodies and professional associations.
The sector is notoriously competitive, but has a huge amount to offer for those with talent and drive to succeed. Wherever challenges are present, opportunities abound. There is need for solid investment in our creative arts and culture industry if it to reach its full potential.