Nobody Can Frustrate Nigerian Artists – Mohammed | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nobody Can Frustrate Nigerian Artists – Mohammed

Posted: Feb 29, 2016 at 12:27 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Yemi Adebisi

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that the ploy to frustrate Nigerian artists through the massive destruction of Artists’ Village in Lagos was a distraction as it would not hold water.

In his recent visitation to the almost desolated cultural edifice allegedly ordered for destruction by the management of National Arts Theatre, Iganmu Lagos, he said the Artists’ Village has come to stay.

Mohammed said this while assessing the extent of damage caused by the demolition on Saturday, January 20.

“With my visit, I have been able to get more details on the damage done. My mission was to calm nerves. The Artists’ Village is here to stay. It is unfortunate that I am visiting the village under this circumstance. The government needs to do more in promoting the village. We will bring more to whatever we have here.”

He promised to do everything to encourage the arts, advising the artists to take advantage of the N500 billion made available by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in the 2016 budget for artisans and market women.

“We will make sure that arts thrive. We are going to have a new era of good rapport between the management of the National Theatre and the artists. We find ourselves in a kind of emergency. We are going to work towards ameliorating it. I will like the artists to take advantage of the intervention programme. They can only access it through their Guilds.”

The Minister who had earlier sent his team to assess the damage said he would make sure the story of the Artists’ Village is like that of the proverbial king’s palace razed by fire but rebuilt with more beauty (Ile Oba To jo, Ewa Lo Bu Si).

“It will be an Artists’ Village that will boast of art studio, decent market and we will have an auction house. Arts and culture has placed the country on the world map. Now that we have dwindling fortune in sports, there is nowhere in the world where the works of Nigerian artists are not celebrated. It’s our responsibility as a government to provide the enabling environment. Let us eschew bitterness and politics. We are all partners in the quest to put arts and culture on the world map.”

Coordinator of the Artists’ Village, Aremo Tope Babayemi, who spoke on behalf of artists affected by the demolition, took the Minister on a tour of the village showing him some of the damaged works.

He told Mohammed that the Artists’ Village houses about 58 companies with some using it for theatrical productions while others own arts studios.

Monday Gubadia, one of the artists affected by the demolition said his works worth more than N30 million were crushed by the caterpillars that demolished his studio.

“Some of my fibre glass works were destroyed; all of them buried in the rubble. I worked here all day to finish these pieces. I am the most affected by this demolition. Nike Art Gallery bought many of my works. The money I made from there is what I used to construct this space.”