Monday, 2 May 2016


British Council organized a 2 days Creative Industries Conference and Export for the 26 and 27 April, 2016. They recognized the need to improve the cultural relationship between Nigeria and UK.  Another reason was to engage practitioners to understand where the gaps are.

A cross section of the participants were drawn from the Government, writers, actors, film makers, musicians, dramatists, sculptors, media practitioners and the like.

The conference was quite engaging and people were empowered with information and experiences from those who have walked the path and succeeded.

After Lola Soneyin spoke on how she created, runs and gets Ake Festival funded, somebody sitting next to me whispered to me; ‘this is just what I needed to kick start my festival in Abuja.’

Dike Chukwumerije inspired a lot of people and they began to think of how they can grow and ply their artistic businesses without waiting for government.

The Day one of the conference was moderated by Mo Abudu, the founder of Ebony Life TV.

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria welcomed the participants and declared the conference open.

Mr. Graham Sheffield the Global Director Arts and Member Executive Board, British Council also spoke on the importance of the Creative Industry the economy.

The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, spoke extensively on how the government values Creative Industries and recognizes it as a major income earner and the plans his administration have for the industries.

Unfortunately, he left soon after even before the creative can engage him on some of the issues he raised and questions they wanted him to respond to.

The topic for the second session for the first day was Building Blocks for a successful Creative Industries.

The session which was moderated by Ms. Nkiru Asika had on the panel;  Mr. Folarin-Coker, the Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, Lagos State, Mrs. Eugenia Abu, Executive Director Programmes NTA and Dike Chukwumerije, Performance Poet and Creative Director Night of the Spoken Word (NSW).

The Commissioner of Lagos State who wished the Honourable Minister for information was around, stated that there was something to appreciate in the culture of every tribe. Nigeria has no choice than to embrace the Creative Industries considering the dwindling oil prices and the high unemployment rate in the country especially among the youths. Creative Industries can cover these gaps.

He posited that Nigeria had the Human Resources and there was need to train all stakeholders to make Nigeria’s Creative Industries competitive.

On its part, government has to ensure infrastructure was in place and functional. That the copyright laws are enforced. It must also provide institutional funding as a way of encouraging investment in that sector.

The media needs to support the Creative Industries to grow but advised everyone to make use of social media to advertise their businesses as it is free.

Eugenia Abu stated that the Creative Industries in Nigeria is untapped and bursting. She however noted the challenge was the ability to manage and take it to the next level.

She recognized the importance of Creative Industries for wealth generation.

She advised parents and guardians not to kill talents of their children and wards because only when people do what they love, that is when they are happy and it becomes easier for them to get to the top.

There was need for people to take up other skills and axillary services in addition to what they already have. 

She advised participants to brand their businesses and not do or say things on social media that would tarnish their brands.
She advised against frivolity and urged people to use the media to push themselves up.

Dike stated that the problem most artistes have was space. Space was important for creativity. He took the participants through the process of starting the Night of Spoken Words. He emphasized that the first three editions were free before he ‘summoned’ courage to introduce ticket.


The panel was moderated by Dr. Tom Fleming, Director Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy (TFCC), UK, Dr. Ike Obiaya, the Dean, School of Media and Communication, Pan Atlantic University, Nigeria, Dr. Paul Nwulu, Programme Officer, Advancing Public Service, Media, Ford Foundation West Africa.

Tom Fleming noted that in the UK the industry is structured sector by sector but in Nigeria all the creative sectors come together and work seamlessly. He also noted that despite the large population of Nigeria, the Creative Industries is a small community and everyone seems to know everyone. That means there are a lot of people who the Creative Industries is not reaching to.

Though Nollywood and all other creative works are growing but the skill is not there. There is need for skill education so the best can come out.

On his own part, Dr. Obiaya reiterated that gaps exist in the Creative Industries as per skills. There must be things that should be done to make the sector more competitive e.g. training of service industry.

He mentioned that one of the things militating against the Creative Industries was the negative perception against the arts and humanities in general. That mindset must change.

He noted the need for talent certification and licensing.

Government should be concerned in developing curriculum that is relevant and necessary to the industries. The Creative Industries also can come together to develop what is relevant and must be in the curriculum.

There is need for the industries to be technologically based. The industries as it is now, is not teaching people to think. People must engage in creative thinking, innovative thinking. 

Creative Entrepreneurs need business plans to convince business people to decide on whether they should or should not invest in any creative venture.

There is need for Creative Entrepreneurs to form a pressure group to get what they want from government.

The Creative Entrepreneurs must create network for knowledge sharing.

Creative people must be ready to go through internship to make them better at what they do.

Private organizations can play a role in funding training.

It is necessary to set up creative cities.

There is a two way relationship between education and skill

Paul Nwulu noted that copyright laws needed to be revised to bring them up to date.

He enlightened the audience on how Ford Foundation functions and the trainings they have sponsored for documentaries and the like. He stated that the interest of Ford Foundation is on young people.

He believes that there was a need to address the skills and capacity deficit that is in the country.

He noted that the sector was informal and advocated that it must be structured or formalized in such a way as to get returns on investments.

This has led to the no data or accurate data situation. No one knows exactly how much the Creative Industries is contributing to the GDR since a lot of the creative people are not even registered!

The next panel discussion was on The Role Of Festivals In Developing Cultural And Creative Industries.

The moderator of this session was Ms. Yemisi Mokuolu, director, Hatch Africa, UK while the panelists were Mr. Michael Williams, MD, Cross River State Tourism Board, Ms. Lola Shoneyin, Founder Ake Bok and Arts Festival and Tom Porter, Director of Arts Sub Saharan Africa, British Council.

Yemisi stated that festivals were important as they are used to present arts in very formal way.  She emphasized that festivals can be money spinners and was a win win situation for everyone; restaurants, cab drivers, job opportunities etc.

Apart from the economic value of festivals which we must capitalize on, festivals make for social cohesion. Festival is a place to develop skill, nurture ideas. Festivals need enlightenment and event management.

She noted that in Nigeria, festival sector is at infancy and needs everyone’s support.

Mike spoke about the history of the highly successful Calabar festival and urged participants to think of festivals in terms of sustainability. He said the best and easiest way to make money in festivals was to charge for tickets and grade the tickers in terms of VIP and others.

Lola spoke of how in the course of promoting her book, The Secret Lives Of Baba Seyi's wives, she discovered that there was a need for festival in Nigeria where conversations can be held on African writing on African soil.

She spoke of the challenges in hosting this festival every year. The festival incorporated her immediate environment and outlined the various value chains. In the last festival, she noted that they broke a record of selling over N5m worth of books.

Tom advised that in order to break even and make money from festivals, all costs must be borne and covered by sponsorship so that whatever is paid on the ticket is your profit. However he said people only pay for good quality stuff.
The next panel; Investment and Funding Models for the Creative Industries in conjunction with Music Week Africa was chaired by Mr. Audu Maikori, founder Chocolate City Group, Music Week Africa.

The panelists were Ms. Emem Ema, Director One Management, Mr. Tom Fleming of Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy, UK, Mr. Akin Oyebode, Executive Secretary, Lagos State Employment Fund and Mr. John Osadolor, Executive Director Business Day Newspapers.

This session attracted a lot of attention because it addressed the issue as aptly described by Audu Maikori, ‘where is the money?’
Audu stated that entertainment industry had done more for African unity than African Unity. He noted that there was a fusion of music, fashion and film.

He noted that there was need for more education and more enlightenment as financial people do not understand creativity.

He assured participants that if they brought value, money will come.

He wanted the government to fix the infrastructure gap.

Emem Ema spoke on where the value is in the Creative Industries. She stated something that caught everyone’s attention, ‘we take small small eye dey look our industry,’ meaning that we are underestimating the potentials in the Creative Industries.

She urged government to provide the enabling environment.

She insisted that for progress to be made, public and private sectors must work together. She noted the multifarious opportunities in the system.

Tom stated that in order to marry money with creativity, the creative people must bring only our best foot forward. There was a need to reach out to the regulators, government, commissioners, directors of culture etc.
Akin stated the need to fund Creative Industries because it is creating value. It is currently employs a lot of labour.  He stated that one of the major challenges in government funding is that there are too many organizations doing similar things now or in the past that it has become counterproductive. There must be a strategic framework for government’s projects as most of them were not designed properly.
He gave an example where one of the bodies giving the funds, (wrongly) insist of the persons being provided with loans must collaborate with the company they are funding. They do not leave people to carry out their projects the way they deemed fit to enable them achieve results.

He advised people to build and brand their businesses. They should also learn not to think grants all the time as grants actually make people lazy and kill their creativity as people can no longer think outside the box.

He advised government to channel a lot of the funds they give as loans to building infrastructure.

There is need to support capacity as a lot of things are done outside the country.

There is need to recognize where the value chain is going to. There was also great need for collaboration.

He advised that Nigerian creative people not be concerned with just dominating Nigerian market. They should throw their products outside to compete internationally. They should for instance to first of all dominate the African market.

John emphasized that the only reason Business Day will support you is that you are in business.

He emphasized the need for strategic collaboration.

Bank of Industry enlightened the participants on the loans which are available and which they can assess.

At the end of the conference so many things were obvious;
Nigerian Creative Industries can provide the needed income for the country in line with the dwindling oil fortunes.
Nigerian Creative Industries can mop up a lot of unemployed but ready to work youths.
Government must create enabling environment to assist the Creative Industries.
The Creative Industries need space to operate and government can  assist greatly in this area.
There is need for excellence on the path of the Creative Industries practitioners.
There is need for collaboration to move the industries forward.
Creative Industries must do all it can to ensure it survives and gives the best value.
Creative Industries practitioners must see their business as money yielding; business that should survive and not see it as ‘charity’ or not too serious.

By the time the two day conference came to an end, the participants were grateful to British Council for the opportunity to learn and network.

Their only regret was that the Honourable Minister for Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed left almost immediately after giving his talk. One participant hoped that the report can be forwarded to the Honourable Minister for further actions.

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