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For Arts, It’ll Be Business as Usual

30 Dec 2012

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Activities in the arts and cultural sector are expected to plod oblivious of the vagaries of the economic and political climate, writes Okechukwu Uwaezuoke

Visual Arts
A second “Rebel” joins the octogenarian club, come April 30. This, of course, would not go unnoticed by the renowned economist and art collector, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi. His Ikorodu-based Yusuf Grillo Pavilion has made an annual ritual of the celebration of the group, which was once called the “Zaria Rebels” by a Ghanaian-born art critic. This year, art aficionados can wager that the Yusuf Grillo Pavilion would celebrate Uche Okeke’s 80th birthday during its annual Easter weekend art fiesta.  Still on birthdays, Chief Gbadamosi hits the biblical three scores and ten years on December 7.

Aficionados should also expect the bi-annual ArtHouse Contemporary Limited auctions, which so far have remained consistent as arguably the best organised and international standard auctions. But it is difficult, if not impossible, to anticipate the bestselling artists who would at any of the editions. Of course, other auctions would hold in Lagos and possibly in Abuja too. One of these is the Mydrim Gallery-Terra Kulture collaboration, which has so far taken its commendable first steps.

There are good reasons to wager on more workshops and residencies this year. They should complement the already existing annual rituals like the Harmattan Workshop in the Delta State town of Agbarha-Otor and the one organised by OYASAF (acronym for the Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation) in collaboration with the University of Lagos Creative Arts Department. Expected to pave the way with international workshops and residencies are the two of the leading Lagos-based galleries – the African Artists’ Foundation and the Centre for Contemporary Art.

Also expected this year are the already established art festivals like the National Art Competition (organised by the African Artists’ Foundation in conjunction with the Nigeria Breweries PLC), Life in My City Art Competition, International Art Expo-Lagos, LagosPhoto and Bamako Biennale on the international scene.

Books
New authors would always sprout like mushrooms in a sultry summer night. So their emergence in the coming year deserves only a cursory glance. But the ripple effects of the Nigeria LNG-endowed The Nigeria Literature Prize should rub off positively on more headline-grabbing talents. For this reason, it is not out of place to hope for an outstanding Nigerian literary artist. Besides the already-cited Nigeria Literature Prize, the handful of other literary awards should be able to reassert themselves this year.

The major annual literary festivals like the Garden City Literary Festival (GCLF) in Port Harcourt, the Committee for Relevant Arts-organised Lagos Books and Art Festival (LABAF) and the Coal City Book Convention in Enugu will consolidate on their gains this year. With Port Harcourt named the World Book Capital for 2014, there is a good reason to expect a better organised GCLF this year.
There is also a strong likelihood that literary activities will revolve around the preparations for Nigeria’s centenary celebrations in 2014. The leading literary societies like the Abuja Literary Society (the ALS), the Abuja Writers Forum, the Committee for Relevant Arts, the Association of Nigerian Authors and the Rainbow Book Club in Port Harcourt are expected to keep the literary fire ablaze in anticipation of this momentous commemoration.

Depletion in the ranks of self-publishing authors should be expected with the fixation of more and more authors on foreign publishing houses. After all, the statistics indicate that few of them win awards.

Others
Stage plays will continue to contest viewers’ attention with home-videos. With The Nigeria Literature Prize focusing this year on drama, more quality plays should be taken for granted. Also a renowned dramatist, Bayo Awala, is adapting one of Chief Gbadmosi’s stage plays into a screenplay. The screenplay’s premiere should be expected in February next year. Meanwhile, stage plays which have always featured during the annual MUSON Festival remain a sure bet this year.

Talking about the MUSON Festival, it is hoped that its attendance roll-call would be as impressive as that of this year. The mainly classical music event has in 2012 done creditably well in this department under the watch of MUSON’s new CEO, Sola Omole. Even its regular Sunday evening classical music concerts have drawn full-house attendance.
Carnivals like the Calabar Carnival, the Abuja Carnival and the Lagos Carnival will continue their roller-coaster ride. Ditto the National Arts Festival (better known as NAFEST).  

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