The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed says that arts, if properly developed can be an alternative source of revenue to the country.
The minister, who was represented by Ibidapo Okunmu, said this at the stakeholders meeting of National Gallery of Arts (NGA) on Monday in Abuja.
“The time of relying on government subventions is long gone with dwindling oil receipts. We need to look for alternatives to oil and art, which is an enduring resource, can fill the gap.
“In moments like this, it is only proper that we take stock of those things we need to do to bring our economy back to reckoning,’’ he said.
Mohammed lauded the NGA for its plans to create ways to shore up its revenue and partnering with more artists.
He, therefore, pledged that government would ensure that NGA had an edifice, such as other galleries in Africa, America and Europe, to showcase the nation’s heritage.
Speaking, Sen. Rochas Okorocha, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, pledged to work with other committee members to ensure that the NGA Establishment Bill become an Act.
“Those that know me can attest to the fact that I do not shy away from challenges; I face them head-on; therefore, I promise to work with the committee on culture and tourism,” he added.
Okorocha, who was represented by Abdulmalik Mahmud. also pledged the commitment of the committee in ensuring that the commission secured an edifice.
Also speaking, Umaru Sulaiman, the Chairman of NGA Governing Board, said that the agency, if repositioned, would become a revenue earner that could contribute significantly to the country’s economic growth.
“Having an edifice is, however, imperative for the organisation in its efforts to meaningfully contribute its quota to the nation’s commonwealth,’’ he said.
Earlier, the Director-General of NGA, Ebeten Ivara, noted that the agency had yet to fully realise its potential because the Act establishing it made it service-oriented and not a revenue driven agency.
He, therefore, called for an amendment of the law, saying that it would be a starting point in efforts to transform NGA and make it to contribute meaningfully to the general wellbeing of Nigerian artists, while generating revenue as well.
Ivara also solicited the provision of an edifice for the agency, stressing that it would be an avenue to showcase the nation’s heritage and attract tourists.
He noted that the richness and diverseness of Nigerian folklore, language, music, literature, fashion, craft and movies were now gaining worldwide popularity.
Also, Prof. Emmanuel Wesley, who delivered the keynote address, called for a synergy among the stakeholders in efforts to reposition NGA to generate revenue.
He also underscored the need to have a sustainable NGA complex in the country.