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Intellectuals, stakeholders storm Calabar for NGA’s annual arts lecture

National Gallery of Arts, NGA, recently held its annual distinguished lecture and National Symposium on Nigerian Arts at Cultural Centre Complex, Calabar, Cross Rivers State.

The Symposium was organized by the National Gallery of Arts in collaboration with Cross Rivers University of Technology.

The Annual Distinguished Lecture, eleventh in the series since it debuted in 1995 is parts of the NGA’s statutory mandate to educate stakeholders in partsicular and, the Nigerian public in general, on the various aspects of Nigerian visual arts.

In the same vein, the National Symposium on arts, another NGA annual forum which brings together studio artists, arts historians, arts curators, arts critics, and lovers of arts under one roof, to present researched papers and brainstorm on topical issues on visual arts  was held  at the same venue with the theme:  “Rebranding Nigeria through Arts’’. The Symposium is a 5 day event that would examine and evaluate how visual arts could serve as a veritable means of re-branding Nigeria’s economy.

An eminent and experienced scholar is selected every year to deliver a lecture on a carefully-chosen apposite topic on visual arts. The presentation is then published in book format, and copies distributed to colleges and universities to spur research in the areas of Nigerian Visual arts.

Professor Dele Jegede of Miami University, Ohio State, United States of America was chosen to deliver this  year’s lecture  titled  “Imagination’’

In  his  address at the opening ceremony of this year’s  lecture,   Director General National Gallery of Arts, Mr. Abdullahi S. Muku said the  lecture  was designed  to bring artists and arts scholars together, to present and discuss well researched papers on various aspects of Nigerian arts.   “It  is as an avenue for exchange of ideas. It is expected that the papers to be presented will be invaluable resource materials for arts students and teachers, intellectuals, collectors, and lovers of arts in Nigeria and beyond,”  Muku said.

Earlier in his address, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Sen Ahmed Hassan Barata reassured the National Gallery of Arts (NGA) of its commitment to the funding and passage of laws that will facilitate the growth of modern arts.

The senator, represented  at the occasion by the Chairman, House Committee on Legislative Compliance, Hon Morauf Fatia said, “I wish to reassure the commitment of the National Assembly to the sector in the areas of funding and also speedy passage of laws that will facilitate the growth of modern arts and put it in the stead as a viable alternative to oil.

On his parts, Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, High Chief Edem Duke said that the ministry was determined to increase the nation’s foreign policy earnings through tourism and arts and commended NGA for resuscitating the programme.

“My Ministry is refocusing her activities towards contributing to government’s effort at increasing the nation’s foreign exchange earnings through the non-oil export; having understood the need to diversify by enhancing other viable means of revenue generation.

In his speech titled ‘Imagination’, Professor of Arts History at Miami University Oxford USA, Prof Dele Jegede called for the emergence of an independent electoral body in Nigeria, saying that the problems confronting visual arts in Nigeria were multi dimensional.

Also speaking, Dr. Oluwole Oloidi   noted that arts could be used to rebrand Nigeria and called for more funding for the National Gallery of Arts for it to effectively discharge its artss and culture development in the country.

He spoke against the placement of sciences above arts, saying government preference for science related courses has led to the deartsh of the artss while calling on all stakeholders to resist this and give artss its right place in the cadastral of knowledge.

The Obi of Onitsha,  Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Ugochukwu  at the occasion    noted  that the countries like China, Japan, France, India  and England  have been made to  create  images for themselves  in  their  various areas of innovations  while calling on Nigeria  to emulate them by giving itself  a  brand image  and carve a niche for itself out of its great natural endowment.


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