Vanessa Obioha looks at the various interventions of the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in the entertainment space as he marks two years in office
Entertainment is one of the key pillars of the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s economic agenda T.H.E.M.E.S. During his election campaign two years ago, the governor pledged to improve the creative industry which it said contributes seven per cent to the GDP, while acknowledging that Lagos is the capital of Nollywood.
In a detailed document at the time, the present administration listed some of its plans for the sector which included collaboration with local and foreign experts and institutions to establish world-class training institutions for all relevant skills and expertise required to improve the creative arts industry; seek the support of the private sector to develop well-distributed purpose-built entertainment spaces around Lagos for music, plays, cinematic viewing and events over the next four years; and provide tax incentives, rebates and waivers on filming permits and streamline tax and approval processes.
A consistent message of the administration is that it is going to build an entertainment village for the creative industry. This village, it said, will have access to the needs of the trade so that it can contribute to the state’s GDP.
Given the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic that derailed some of the projects of this administration, it is necessary to look at the various interventions of the government in the entertainment sector as the second anniversary of its tenure approaches.
So far, Sanwo-Olu has been able to fulfil his promise to collaborate with local and foreign experts and institutions to establish world-class training institutions for all relevant skills and expertise required to improve the creative arts industry.
This year, it opened the Lagos Ebony Academy, a partnership with EbonyLife, the film and media company of media mogul Mo Abudu. The academy is to train film producers, editors and all other professionals involved in the filmmaking process.
Another collaboration of similar hue is the partnership with Del-York Academy, run by Linus Idahosa. The Lagos State government sponsored 1500 talents for online training with the academy where they will hone their skills in the art and business of filmmaking. The selected trainees are expected at the end of the day to make creative projects that will add value to the film industry.
Recently, Sanwo-Olu set up a nine-member committee to manage its film production empowerment scheme. Headed by veteran actor Richard Mofe-Damijo, the committee is to help identify and support struggling filmmakers with grants made available by the government to get their film to a completion stage as well as distribution to either cinemas or digital platforms.
“If we can support them, they can employ a lot of people. It is one of the places where we can create employment for a lot of our citizens,” said Sanwo-Olu in a recent media briefing.
However, the administration has not clearly spelt out how it is helping the music industry which also makes up the entertainment industry. Its attention is focused on Nollywood. But like Nollywood, Lagos is also a hotspot for musicians. A great number of the country’s famous musicians either started their musical journey or are based in the state.
No doubt, the music industry stands to gain from the state’s 3000 Metropolitan fibre optics that will ensure internet and data availability in the state, as music revenue in the past few years is generated from streaming and mobile services.
Since the beginning of the new millennium, technology is a great enabler of the music industry. Apart from distribution, it enables content creation, talent scouting and management. Take, for instance, singer D’banj’s CREAM platform that encouragesp people to sell creative content.
The subscription-based platform helps to scout for talents who are then mentored to become artists. The government can initiate similar incentives for record labels or successful artists with good business acumen. It should extend its grants to the music industry as innovation-driven music enterprises are proven to help attract investments in the state.
Since it is already in partnership with Google and Facebook to build Yaba Tech Hub, there should be incentives for the music industry to tap into such partnerships. It should also collaborate with all key stakeholders that significantly help in developing effective regulatory and business environments that allow music to thrive in the city.
There are numerous examples of how music helps cities grow. Therefore, the government should not renege on its promise to build an entertainment village in Lagos. This village may become a cultural hub for the state and help Lagos become a global music city in Africa. As Sanwo-Olu has clearly noted, it is better to build the future now.
“You build an infrastructure so that people coming behind will see what you have done for them. If you fail to do so, they will build a more expensive model in the future.”