“Art saves culture through passing on tradition; art saves language, music, and craft; art saves families and communities through economic and social development,’’ says Claire Stasiewicz, World Folk Art Movement Pop-Up Market project manager.
According to him, art also saves lives by providing employment and safe spaces for individuals around the world.
To underscore the contributions of art works to preservation of culture, lives and economy, among others, International Folk Art Market is held on Museum Hill in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to create economic opportunities for and with folk artists worldwide who celebrate and preserve folk art traditions.
You may also like: Buhari won’t sign Electoral Bill if… — Malami
Recognising the importance of art works, especially in creating wealth and preserving Nigerian cultures, the National Gallery of Art (NGA) has made it a policy to develop a world-class gallery that can showcase the country’s cultural values and attract tourists by exploring the abundant natural and human resources across the nation.
According to it, promoting art education, especially among the youth, is fundamental to the preservation and development of indigenous cultural values for sustainability and recognition by the world.
The government is quite aware of the importance of art works in that regard and it has given the sector a pride of place in the scheme of things, observers note.
For instance, the national gallery of art has been synergising among institutions of learning, featuring art works in exhibitions.
One of such exhibitions was the Art Fair held in the University of Jos recently, involving art works of lecturers and students of the institution.
Besides, the gallery had done similar exhibition in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where various arts from Department of Fine and Applied Arts, were showcased.
During the art fair in Jos, Mr Ebeten Ivara, the Director-General of NGA, said that the event was organised to showcase the art works of students and staff of the department.
He added that the event aimed at creating a strong synergy among art teachers and students.
“Today’s event is put together, featuring the works of lecturers and students of the Department of Fine and Applied Arts of the university.
“Over the years, the NGA has lent tremendous support to the promotion of art education and development, and the various programmes targeted at enhancing the artistic development of both art instructors and students alike.
“It is our hope that this synergy will produce an entrepreneurial package that will be the delight of the art lovers and all who will visit the fair,’’ he said.
Ivara promised that the NGA would continue to do everything to support art education, aimed at encouraging artistic development of both art instructors and students in the country.
The Chairman, Governing Board of the NGA, Alhaji Umaru Suleiman, commended the gallery for putting the event together in spite of the lean resources at its disposal, adding the exhibition was timely.
He said that the fair formed part of the activities organised to actualise its mandate of promoting, propagating and encouraging research in Nigeria’s modern art.
He promised that the board would continue to support the management of NGA toward promoting arts in the country.
Prof. Tanko Ishaya, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Jos, thanked the NGA for hosting the exhibition, in collaboration with the university, adding that such synergies would open new vistas in the tourism and hospitality industry of the country.
He advised Nigerians, particularly young people, to show deep interest in art, observing that it would create employment opportunities and generate huge income.
Ishaya also advised Nigerians to encourage the industry by appreciating art works, buying and stocking them in their homes.
Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau described the exhibition as timely, noting that the quality and quantity of artistic works displayed confirmed the readiness of Nigerians to make art a gold mine.
The governor said that the exhibition remained an avenue where our cultural heritage would be properly and adequately preserved.
“We commend the University of Jos for creating the atmosphere for the hosting of the event particularly the Fine and Applied Art Department for the level of professionalism displayed here.
“The quality and quantity of exhibitions shown is a confirmation of the quality of young and creative Nigerians we have and a hope for Nigeria and it is clear that your work is a major avenue through which our rich culture and history is preserved.
“The exceptional reasoning, creativity and talent seen here, speak volumes and no doubt a source of inspiration and income,’’ he said.
The governor pledged that the government would continue to put out modalities toward entrenching peaceful co-existence to create an enabling environment for investors in the state.
He noted that the hosting of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) in November 2020 further confirmed that peace had since returned to Plateau.
“On our part as government, we are doing everything within our strength and wisdom to ensure that the peace in Plateau will be sustained.
“We are also working on ensuring that young gifted citizens with works such as the ones we are witnessing today are provided the platform to promote their gifts through our entrepreneurship programmes.
“It is our hope that this fair will enable many more talents to be discovered, supported and sponsored to higher levels for better output.
“We believe that many lovers and those who value art works will be attracted to your works with the hope of promoting it nationally and internationally,’’ he said.
Lalong said that government would continue to celebrate all those who engage in activities that aimed at promoting culture, insisting that such would place the Plateau top among comity of states in the country.
He also promised to support and create opportunities for young people to showcase their talents and entrepreneurial skills.
Prof. Gideon Baklit, the Dean, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Jos, maintained that promoting fine and applied arts in the country had the propensity to jerk up the nation’s foreign earnings.
Baklit, who advised governments at all level to encourage arts, particularly among young people, observed that it would naturally address the huge unemployment deficit in the country as well as increase its revenue profile.
“Arts and culture has the capacity to promote foreign exchange and let me give an example; painting work of a polytechnic student in Ibadan was auctioned and sold at 1,000 dollars.
“That’s just one aspect of arts. There are other aspects that if properly harnessed can do better for our economy.
“Art and culture can go a long way to address unemployment among youths, inequality and poverty by increasing the nation’s revenue profile and the personal income of the people.
“For me oil is a disaster to this country because we destroy the environment to produce it and that has grossly affected agriculture, ecosystem and what have you.
“So, government must do everything within its powers to encourage arts and culture at all levels of education,’’ he advised.
All in all, stakeholders at the fair are optimistic that government will invest huge resources in arts and culture to promote entrepreneurship among young people, thereby increasing their personal earnings and revenue profile of the nation.
- A News Analysis by Polycarp Auta, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)