World Art Day 2024: Spotlighting Musawa’s Art Ministry

Oluwafemi Popoola

April 15th is World Art Day. World Art Day is an international celebration of the fine arts which was declared by the International Association of Arts (IAA) in order to promote awareness of creative activity worldwide.

 This day has been observed since 2012 to recognise the impact that art has on our lives. While it originated in Italy, it is now celebrated around the world as a way to bring people together through creativity and appreciation of art. In 2019, the World Art Day reached a global phenomenon and was celebrated in over 120 countries, with numerous events, exhibitions, and workshops organised across the world.

World Art Day is a celebration of creativity, diversity and the universal language of art that transcends borders and cultures. Art is a universal language. Regardless of cultural differences or language barriers, art is a global unifier. It conveys emotions, ideas, and narratives that can be understood by any viewer. So, each year on April 15th, legions of artists and art enthusiasts around the globe come together to honour the profound impact of art on society.

In a rapidly changing and growing world, characterised by globalisation and technological advancement, art still fills a large void in our lives. It plays a pivotal role in preserving our cultural identity and heritage. It serves as a reminder of our shared humanity, connecting us to our past, grounding us in the present and inspiring us to envision a better future.

Whether through paintings, sculptures, music, literature or dance, art provides a platform for individuals or artists to share their stories, celebrate their heritage and voice their concerns. It serves as a mirror reflecting the essence of humanity. It encapsulates the joys, struggles, dreams and aspirations of individuals and communities, strengthening our social fabric, forging bonds that transcend geographical boundaries and ideological differences.

The World Art Day is a great reminder to help people notice the beauty around them. It reminds people to express themselves fully. Humans are full of emotions and thus should be allowed to show them without fear. The goal is to facilitate the sustainable development of art. With enough support, artists can continue to portray beauty.

This year’s theme: A Garden of Expression: Cultivating Community through Art’, takes on a deeper significance, emphasising the role of art not only as a unifying force in building or healing communities, but art as catalyst of social change and unity. The phrase in the theme, ‘A Garden of Expression’ symbolises the diversity and richness of artistic expression found in communities worldwide. So, just as a garden nurtures a variety of plants and flowers, each with its unique beauty and contribution, so does art flourish in diverse forms, styles and traditions. 

More so, to cultivate community through art would mean to expend serious energy on art initiatives. This goes beyond just creating and appreciating artworks; it requires active engagement, collaboration and dialogue among artists, audiences and stakeholders. This is because art initiatives such as public murals, community theatres, arts exhibitions and cultural festivals serve as catalysts for social cohesion, promoting a sense of pride and identity among citizens.  

As the world celebrates the World Art Day, for Nigeria, this is the moment to shine the spotlight on the newly created Ministry of Art, Culture and Creative Economy under the leadership of Barrister Hannatu Musa Musawa and the nation’s artistic landscape. It also affords us the opportunity to dissect the overall performance of the minister ever since she assumed the novel office.

As an art enthusiast and keen observer of the minister’s activities, it’s not extravagant to conclude that the country’s art space has blossomed into ‘a garden of expression’ where creativity flourish. Musawa’s innovation and rare profundity has helped in providing a fertile ground for artists to thrive, resulting in a renaissance of creativity that has captured the imagination of the nation. 

For many years, Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage has always been a source of inspiration for artists, but it is under Musawa’s new leadership that this heritage has been much more celebrated and innovatively reimagined. With over 250 ethnic groups, Nigeria’s art scene has become a melting pot of various artistic expressions, capturing the essence of the nation’s multicultural identity. The success of the +234 Art Fair event, a-first-of its-kind international art exhibition, that took place in Lagos last month lend credence to Musawa’s outstanding performance.

The art event only lasted for 10 days but the city of Lagos and Nigeria was held spellbound  as the fair brought together over two hundred artists and massive legions of arts lovers under one roof. Also, over hundreds of arts works were on magnificent display, over the course of the days of the event.

 The art exhibition offered every artistic experience available, from paintings to sculpted works to photography, handcrafted materials and objects, a children’s art section, art-related activities like sip and paint and so on. This was no small event. It was one of such events that promoted the best of the best in Nigeria’s contemporary art ecosystem.

Let me also mention the resounding success of the first edition of the Omniverse Summit held on February 27 to March 1 at the Landmark Event Centre, Lagos. It was an event that brought together technology enthusiasts, investors, funders, academia, industry leaders, creatives, innovators, public policy and development sector leaders in one physical space. 

But it was Musawa who emerged as a central figure in the dynamic landscape, championing the role of art, culture and creativity in shaping societies and driving economic growth. Musawa’s passionate advocacy for the creative industries resonated loudly, inspiring participants to harness their creative potential for social impact and economic empowerment.

From technological innovations to artistic expressions, the four-day maiden summit showcased the diverse facets of the creative economy and its potential to drive positive change on a global scale.

Just the same way that the recent initiative by the Ministry of Art, Culture, and Creative Economy to organise the National Undergraduate Art Fair and honour the exceptional creativity of students in Nigerian universities has garnered widespread acclaim and enthusiastic support from the Nigerian public.

Many Nigerian art lovers especially student artists have expressed their excitement and appreciation for the ministry’s efforts to showcase the immense creativity flourishing within the country’s universities. They have lauded the Fair as a long-overdue recognition of the artistic prowess of Nigerian youths, emphasising the importance of nurturing and promoting talent from a young age.

One of the most prevalent reactions has been a sense of pride and validation among students and artists whose work has been selected for display at the Fair. Showcasing over 100 carefully selected artworks from diverse student artists across the nation, it was a vibrant celebration of talent and innovation. Moreover, the National Undergraduate Art Fair promises to have a ripple effect that will extend beyond the confines of the event itself, influencing the broader cultural ecosystem of Nigeria. 

Thanks to Musawa’s transformative approach, Nigeria’s traditional art forms have tasted a resurgence, captivating audiences with their beauty and authenticity.

Call to Action for Minister Musawa

While informed minds would agree with me that the 49-year-old lawyer has made commendable strides in promoting art and culture in the country, there is still much more work to be done to fully harness the potential of Nigeria’s rich artistic heritage. 

I am not oblivious of the fine vision of the ministry especially Destination Nigeria 2030. It is a national strategy with the vision of positioning Nigeria as a leading influence of creative expression and cultural exchange. The vision is not only realistic, it is a well thought-out plan to propel Nigeria towards economic prosperity and cultural enrichment. 

The vision may still be alive but there is an urgent need to quickly fix the infrastructural deficit in the Nigerian art sector. The lack of adequate exhibition spaces, art studios, and cultural centres have continually hindered the growth and visibility of Nigerian artists. I know a number of talented artists with excellent art works but are still struggling to find exhibition spaces to showcase their works. The number of art galleries available in the country are surprisingly limited.

Art galleries serve as educational hubs where people can explore different artistic styles, movements and perspectives. Shortage of these galleries would no doubt limit the opportunities for art enthusiasts and the general public to engage with and appreciate art. It also restricts the visibility and accessibility of artists’ works. This insufficient exhibition spaces will only create an atmosphere where artists would struggle to showcase their creations to a wider audience. It also hinders their ability to gain recognition and establish themselves in the art world. This lack of exposure not only affects individual artists but also diminishes the diversity and richness of our cultural landscape.

The minister must know that investing in art galleries is not just a matter of supporting the arts; it is an investment in our collective future. Addressing this issue by embarking on a mission to collaborate with relevant stakeholders means she has the opportunity to unleash the full potential of Nigeria’s artistic space, stimulate economic growth and preserve our cultural heritage.

In addition, Nigeria boasts a wealth of artists and creatives. Many aspiring artists lack access to proper training and resources. Musawa must prioritise initiatives that provide scholarships, grants, workshops and mentorship to nurture young artists and equip them with the skills necessary to thrive in the art industry. These initiatives are paramount in empowering the present generation of Nigerian creatives to unlock innovative new approaches to solving challenges, drive economic growth and be the leading influence of creative expression and cultural exchange.

Having said this, one can find solace in the fact that Musawa’s commitment to service delivery transcends short-term fixes; it encompasses a long-term vision for the holistic development of Nigeria’s art scene. Moreso, reflecting on her deliverables so far coupled with her understanding of the nature of the job at hand offers a glimmer of hope.

*Popoola, is a journalist and political analyst


For many years, Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage has always been a source of inspiration for artists, but it is under Musawa’s new leadership that this heritage has been much more celebrated and innovatively reimagined… Musawa’s passionate advocacy for the creative industries resonated loudly, inspiring participants to harness their creative potential for social impact and economic empowerment

Related Articles