Forecasting Nigeria’s Art Scene in 2020

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Burna Boy with his BET trophy

Leaning on the events that shaped the previous year, Yinka Olatunbosun predicts some of the new developments that will be evident in 2020 in Nigeria’s world of Arts

All Eyes on Burna Boy: The 2020 edition of the Grammy Awards is one that music critics and enthusiasts are looking forward to albeit for different reasons. For the fans in Nigeria, Burna Boy must bring home the Grammy in the World music category, a feat that had eluded King Sunny Ade, Femi Anikulapo Kuti and his brother, Seun who leads the band bearing the music legacy of Fela, the Egypt 80. For critics, there is a little apprehension that the African Giant album isnot the best of Burna, having dropped other smash hits in the previous years. Another fear is that Burna is running for the award against the African music heavyweight, Anglique Kidjoamongst others.

Growing Feminist Theatre: The last holiday was packed with plays with feminist thrust or better still, women stories. Esther’s Revenge, Emotan, Fela and the Kalakuta Queens, Mamma Mia, Moremi the musical and other productions created a space for conversation about issues that concern women such as leadership roles, cultural influencers, sexuality, marriage, love amongst others. While some of the theatre producers may have consciously engaged with a feminist plot, some unconsciously found their themes revolving around the gender discourse and that points to the fact that our theatre is conscious and sensitive to the way women are seen or treated.

Nollywood Tells Authentic Stories: Our existence as Nigerians is governed by what is happening in our political space. Nigerian film makers will be serving up more visual narratives that tell the true experience of a Nigerian whether in business or politics or just going through the routine of daily survival. We saw that shift with Kemi Adetiba’s ‘King of Boys’, Genevieve Nnaji’s ‘Lionheart’, Kunle Afolayan’s‘Mokalik’ as well as Ego Boyo and Akin Omotosho’s ‘The Ghost and the House of Truth.’ Gradually, short film makers are taking over the movie industry with their debut full-length flicks that arouse curiosity. More new film producers will emerge in 2020 with interesting stories that are plausible.

More Books, Less Wit: Sadly, established writers with impeccable writing skills are aging, dying or writing less. The literary space in Nigeria is replete with more books by emerging authors and everyone wants to document an experience. But we shall be seeing less fiction in fresh writings. Only a few will be witty and worth our time, data or power generator fuel.

Between Exhibits and Exhibitors: In spite of the growing festivals of visual arts, there is still a dearth in the field of art marketing. Many artists rely on the social media platforms to showcase their works sometimes at the expense of media engagement. There will be fierce competition in visual arts in 2020 as the world is paying more attention to the new creatives from Nigeria.

The Shrinking Media Space for Art: Many art reporters and editors are worried that art reportage is going extinct in the print media because of the shrinking space for art stories and discourse. Deploying brevity and focusing on only the top stories have been helpful to stay afloat but then it is ironical that although the art scene is burgeoning, art reports are declining. Media owners still wonder why film makers, musicians, publishers and other key players in the art scene still don’t advertise in print media. A change will come.