Last Sunday, the open ground of Sheraton Hotel, Abuja provided a natural setting for the first successful drive-in theatre experiment courtesy of Otunba Segun Runsewe-led National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC).
Nigeria’s cultural tourism community thus recorded its historic countdown to a post-COVID-19 new normal engagement.
The event was a revelation that Nigeria and indeed its creative sector is proactive enough to cope with the new normal being faced by the globe, no thanks to COVID-19.
The Sunday experiment shoveled with very tight security, social distancing, and must-wear mask protocols ushered in selected car owners strategically connected to a special programme frequency for sound, dedicated pavilions and over 40 visitors convenience.
The well-illuminated and decorated open theatre stand was centralized and visible from all directions and angles, with the thespians observing the approved protocols, and the Abuja hotel staff serving guests with snacks and beverages at intervals and fully following established hygiene protocols.
Beamed on Zoom, Instagram, Facebook and other social media NCAC accounts, the performances backed by live coverage by notable Nigerian television stations added to the glamorous experiment. The print media was not left out.
In tandem with the NCAC post-COVID-19 creative efforts, the drive-in open theatre was geared towards perfecting the up-coming National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) holding in Jos in October.
With the digital interaction attracting over 18 countries, with ambassadors of Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, India, Pakistan and China, the template for Nigeria’s come back to life post-COVID was on showcase.
Added to the live theatre experiment, was a clinically-driven pre and post fumigation of the event ground and facilities, with special attention paid to the dedicated pavilion for photojournalists and television camera personnel.
NCAC Director General, Runsewe, expressed happiness at the encouraging presence of individuals and culture enthusiasts who graced the occasion, adding that Nigeria has once again made statements that life has returned in the country post-COVID-19.
“We are a big country and we shall continue to prepare and not relax. COVID-19 may have impacted on the cultural tourism businesses worldwide but in Nigeria, we are back on the beat, we are going to overcome challenges and put the right foot forward.
“A country with 36 states and the federal capital, ready to come together in a cultural show of force slated for Jos in October, cannot take anything for granted,” he explained.
On the showcase of the iconic culture and tourism destinations in Nigeria, he stated that the effort, powered at the end of each performance, was to add value to the business of promoting Nigeria and her people.
“Each performance comes up at the end with dedicated video playbacks of selected destinations and iconic cultural offerings to spice additional information about any state on showcase.
“We also got the Nigerian media backing because we understand the reach and usefulness of keeping the government and people informed of how ready we are in this whole process.”
Chairman, House Committee on Culture, Ogbeide Ihama, congratulated Runsewe on the drive-in effort, noting that NCAC has more than justified its corporate relevance and contributions to the advancement of Nigerian cultural tourism beyond COVID-19.
“Runsewe once again has shown capacity. He was not waiting to be told what to do but has shown everyone how to rise above the fears of the pandemic. He is futuristic and proactive. No doubt NAFEST 2020 in Jos is a reality.
“The national assembly, the house committee on culture in particular, is proud to be associated with this outing and with Runsewe at NCAC,” said Ihama.