Deploying Arts, Culture as Tool for Poverty Eradication

Deploying Arts, Culture as Tool for Poverty Eradication

To reduce poverty across board and empower women, the Centre for Black and Africa Arts and Civilisation recently held a workshop on promotion of visual arts, painting, sculpture and pottery in Benin City, Edo State. Chiemelie Ezeobi writes 

As part of efforts by the federal government to reduce poverty through women empowerment, the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC), recently organised a two- day workshop/training programme on Deploying Arts and Culture as a Tool for Poverty Eradication through the Promotion of Visual Art; Painting, Sculpture and Pottery.

Chaired by Hon Nosakhare Omoreigbe, the event, which was held in Edo State at Bishop Kelly Pastoral Centre, St Paul Catholic Church, off Airport Road, Benin City, Edo State, had the first day coordinated by Dr Akpughe O. Praise of the Department of Fine & Applied Arts, University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State.

In his speech, the chairman of the occasion, Hon Omoreigbe, who also doubles as the Chairman House Committee on Culture and Tourism, commended the Director General of CBAAC for facilitating and organising the programme for three local government areas in Edo State.

Stressing that culture and cultural practices could help in enhancing productivity, he cited visual arts, which as an integral element of culture is as old as the history of man himself. 

“Visual arts – drawings, paintings, sculptures, pottery are some of the significant art pieces that brought African arts to global audience and, also influence the renaissance period that furthered the enlightenment of the world,” he added.

 He recalled that during the precolonial era that art works such as bronze sculptures which were catered away by the British brought fame to the great Benin Kingdom and clearly show the creative ingenuity of the Benin master craft-men. “But, that unfortunately today, only a handful of our youths in Africa are engaged in this lucrative and aged-long profession”.

 Pottery he further adduced, shows the capacity of Africans to innovate; potteries come in different shapes and designs with beautiful inscriptions that portrays African folklores. Paintings, sculptures and pottery provided gainful employment, and people who possess such talents were and still are in high demand. 

The chairman further encouraged participants to put in their best and acquire new skill that would catapult them into better and more rewarding economic state of life.

In her welcome address, Director-General of CBAAC Hon Oluwabunmi Amao, ably represented by Mr Adesegun Dosumu (Deputy Director Research and Publication), first thanked the participants for their large turnout and encouraged them to see the event as a rare opportunity to acquire new skills that would better their lives and enhance their productivity. 

In his speech, he said the centre which was established with a global mandate of propagating and promoting understanding and appreciation of African rich cultural heritage in all its forms, would continue to liaise with the Chairman House Committee on Culture and Tourism Hon Omoregie Ogbeide – Ihama in facilitating and organising programmes of this nature that would sharpen the skills and enhance the capacitily of participants to innovate such that they become more creative and productive.

The lecture on Deploying Arts and Culture as a Tool for Poverty Eradication through the Promotion of Visual Art; Painting, Sculpture and Pottery was delivered by Dr Akpughe Praise. The training was divided into two parts, the first is the theory/ historical background and conceptual clarifications of the different elements of culture.

 While the second part was the practical demonstration /explanation of some certain key terms of the nitty-gritties of Painting, Sculpture and Pottery. In his lecture, the guest speaker said that with the verse human and material resources at the country’s disposal, particularly cultural resources, Nigeria has no reason being poor. 

He noted that poverty and unemployment affect economic growth as the country is in a state of unproductive activity. Thus, to develop a country, the nation needs people with diverse skills to utilise and maximise the available resources of the country. 

Defining art in its simplest term as the ability to acquire skill, he noted that arts is divided into two major parts; Visual and Performing Arts.

Essentially, Visual Art is the study and creation of things in forms, texture, lines and colours which gives pleasure to the mind and satisfies sense of beauty. Visual Art is divided into Fine & Applied Arts. While Fine art has to do with appreciation of beauty or used to describe the branch of art that appeals to man’s sense of beauty and higher emotions, e.g drawing, painting and sculpture, Applied Art othe other hand is the branch of art that has to do with creation of objects meant for functional purposes. It is often beautiful and used for industrial design. This involves textiles designs, ceramic and graphics.

He said: “One interesting attributes of visual art is that it provides self-employment as most visual artists are self-employed. The lecturer who expressed dismay at the level of unemployment stated that the Art market is big enough to provide gainful employment to the Nigerian youth.

“That another important aspect of the art business which one can easily get involved whether or not the person has the skills, is to serve as an Arts Collector – a person who buys work of arts (paintings, sculptures, pottery, etc.,) and sell them at a profit.”

He encouraged participants to get involved in the field of arts which he said would help them make additional income as multiple streams of income will enable one live a balanced life.

The event for the second day was practical coaching and demonstrations on the techniques of the various elements of painting, sculpture and pottery. 

The session for painting was coordinated by Mr Elijah while sculpture and pottery were coordinated by Mr Collins and Precious respectively. All the resources persons were of the department of Fine & Applied Arts, University of Benin. 

For painting Mr Elijah said, one needs a canvas (surface on upon which the painting will be done) brush of different types, sizes and shapes, water and acrylic colours, oil colours, etc. he demonstrated how they are used and taught participants how to produce secondary colours from primary colours. 

At the end of the teaching practice, a flower vase was produced to the admiration of all. Same went with the pottery and sculpture, at the end of the very interesting and insightful teaching, a ceramic and a beautiful sculpture were produced and participants were encouraged to hold on to their new acquired skills and try to enhance them through practice. 

At the end of the intellectually stimulating training, the training brought to the fore the importance of visual art; paintings, sculpture and pottery as a tool for poverty eradication. Sufficient examples were used by the facilitators to buttress this point because according to them, works of art has an existing market ready to buy an art work.

Consequent upon the exposure of participants to the nitty-gritties and modalities of being an art collector, most of the youths that participated at the training became interested in becoming a visual artists.

Also, the  event also showcased and demonstrated how the visual art; painting, sculpture and pottery serves as a tool for enhancing gainful employment, as well as provided the opportunity for participants to sharpen and enhance their skill and latent talent in the field of visual art.

At the end of the  programme, the 450 participants were issued certificates of participation. For participants, the workshop/training programme was an roaring success given the wide array of skills that they were taught. 

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