Nigeria is one of the most populous countries in the world and the most populous on the continent with an estimated population of around 250 million people and over 300 ethnic groups.
As Nigeria’s population and ethnic diversity have posed an existential threat to the nation, the demands for unity have become a national concern. The government has thus mobilized its resources to pursue national unity.
The National Gallery of Arts is one of the parastatals charged with promoting the unity of Nigeria through its duty to preserve and document the modern and contemporary art of the country.
But it is called into question by the fact that there is no building that can be qualified as a national gallery. Recently, at a forum on Beyond the Preservation and Promotion of Art: The Gallery Building as a Major Driver of Diversification of the Nigerian Economy, stakeholders in the sector visual arts from the creative industry requested a national building worthy of the NGA.
However, they recommended minority status for the federal government in the ownership and operation of the national gallery, which should be funded through a public-private partnership.
Other conditions for the realization of the project include: creating a national gallery in line with the digital world; create programs and activities to work with artists on an ongoing basis; the pursuit of great intellectual debates on the value of art to build on these poor areas of our history; explore new areas for the growth of the national collection and make significant investments in personnel and train the human capacities of the industry.
National Gallery of Art Managing Director Mr. Ebeten William Ivara said the idea for this year’s forum is to use it as a platform to raise awareness about building an NGA-worthy edifice. , which has been an essential part of his program since taking office. “No country worthy of the name can do without a world-class structure such as an art gallery. Smaller African countries like Zambia, Gambia, and Zimbabwe have masterpieces like their national art gallery, which attract local and international tourists. The National Gallery of Art of South Africa has been in existence since 1930, ”he said.
At the 12th Annual Distinguished National Gallery of Art (NGA) Conference in Abuja last year, Professor Jerry Buhari from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) also raised the need to empower art its rightful place beyond the discourse and policies put on the backburner, adding, it will be “able to redirect our energies, our creativity and our imagination towards new approaches to solve national problems”.
Buhari noted that there are many issues that challenge the development of art in Nigeria today, the main ones being: Not having a national building for contemporary and modern works of art and the problem of managing art. art collections.
He revealed the consequences of not having a national building. He called on the government to urgently accelerate the construction of at least one national edifice for contemporary art in Abuja, with a profile that can accommodate the volume and diversity of works of art created in our vibrant art scene.
“It is important to save them from disappearance or relocation to other cultural arenas or even outright destruction. The profile and cultural significance of these works testify to the authentic Nigerian dream, ”he said.
Stakeholders noted that without a national edifice, it would be difficult to build a cohesive art collection that could serve as a nation-building tool.
A physical edifice containing works of art that represent the artistic practice of a country, both the building and the works can be easily and effectively deployed to build unity, integration and a national dream. The building could become a symbolic image that a country can be used to protect our common cultural heritage.
A national edifice is capable of saving masterpieces from the creative efforts of a country and of transmitting to future generations their material and immaterial cultural value. It is a repository of works of art which, by their nature, require dedicated and appropriate spaces for storage, display and access for educational, touristic and celebratory purposes of human civilization.
Guest speaker Omooba Yemisi Shyllon, who spoke on Beyond the Preservation and Promotion of Art: The Gallery Building as a Major Driver of Diversifying the Nigerian Economy, noted that the Nigeria has the potential to attract around six million visitors per year to its National Gallery, generating an income of $ 56 billion per year.
To achieve this, the above recommendations should be taken seriously with a view to enhancing Nigeria’s inherent economic strength and creative human resources by providing important inputs in diversifying the country’s economy.
“Such diversification, resulting from the construction and improvement of our creative talents, towards the generation of inputs essential to the growth of our galleries and to the increase in the export of works of art”, a- he declared.
Shyllon also said Nigeria still needs a national edifice to conserve and preserve artists’ modern and contemporary works of art. Some of these works, he said, adorn private galleries, collectors’ houses, bank rooms, public buildings and renowned institutions.
“The works of art of many Nigerian artists are thus lost in the long run and their impact remains uncoordinated for public exhibition, permanent exhibition and promotion. It is no exaggeration to say that the absence of a national gallery building is a major obstacle to the development of modern and contemporary art in Nigeria. A national gallery building being a public space for the unique and important collection of works of art over time for the public good, tells cohesive stories in paintings, sculptures and photographs, spanning decades and reflecting how our country’s artists have lived and responded to myths in religion, history and contemporary events, spanning human forms and our unique cultures, ”he said.
According to Shyllon, a national gallery building is a living legend of the cultural achievements of the Nigerian people as expressed in art form and therefore a valuable resource for understanding our world and our heritage. He noted that a national gallery therefore has the national responsibility to support and enrich the national collection for public display, to advance scientific research and to promote enjoyment and understanding.