New Telegraph

Events that shaped Arts, Culture sector in 2022

In a matter of days, about 72 hours, the year 2022 will end, ushering in a new year, 2023, with both hope and anxiety, especially, given the coming elections in February. For the Arts and Culture sector, it has been a busy and challenging year.

Dozens of actvities and events – both regular and new ones – defined and shaped the sector in the receeding year. Prominent among these include the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Conference themed: ‘Linking Tourism, Culture and Creative Industries: Pathways To Recovery And Inclusive Development’, and held at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, last month; the 24th edition of the annual Africa’s prime ‘feast of Life and Ideas’, the Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF), organised by the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA); Ake Arts and Book Festival; The NLNG sponsored Nigeria Prize for Literature, Nigerian Prize for Literary Criticism and the Nigerian Prize for Science Grand Award Night held October in Lagos; the National Theatre Festival of Unity and others.

There are also new entrants such as Ile-Oluji School Drama Contest – ISDRACON 2022, the maiden edition of which was held in October. Significantly, after many years of promises and paper work, concrete steps have finally been taken to return Nigerian traditional artworks that were inappropriately acquired by Europeans during the colonial era. Some of these artifacts have been away for over 1200 years.

A few days ago, the foreign minister of Germany, Annalena Baerbock, handed over 22 of the artifacts looted in the 19th century back to Nigeria at a ceremony in Abuja. Earlier in the year there was an agreement made between Nigeria and Germany that will see the European nation return more than 1000 of the heritage objects. From the United States of America to the United Kingdom and France there is a concerted effort to return these works of art domiciled in both public and private museums.

Some countries like Germany, United States and United Kingdom have taken concrete steps to return the works, while others are in the various stages of restitution. For many this is a welcome development because it marks the beginning of the end to the vexatious argument over who should have custody of the works. Against the background of the argument that the artefacts may be mishandled if they are returned to poorly managed and funded museums in their places of origin, it must be noted that in this period of Nigerian art history, well-run private art galleries are being established to help in providing alternative spaces where these artefacts can be well-preserved.

While the stolen artworks are being returned, it is important to note that Nigerian contemporary art is making great inroads internationally. From London, Paris to New York, Nigerian artists shone in global Art fairs. The Ko art Space managed by Kavita Chellaram did a good job in taking Nigerian art to major art fairs around the world. At the Armory Show, Ozioma Onuzulike’s and Nnenna Okore’s works were exhibited with both of them making good impact. Artworks by Nigerian artists are breaking new grounds. From private exhibitions to international art fairs and to residencies, Nigerian art are attracting large patronage.

A good example is the launch of Guest Artists Space (G.A.S.) Foundation by Yinka Shonibare a renowned Nigerian artist, in Lagos and Ijebu in May 2022. GAS Foundation will host cultural exchanges and fellowships where international participants will live and work, alongside their African counterparts for a few months. The 2022 edition of Art X Lagos, West Africa’s largest art fair, continued to soar with many local and international galleries participating in this year’s edition. It could be said that the fair returned to its pre COVID-19 strength, surpassing previous bench marks.

More galleries at home and abroad participated in this year’s edition. There were many off events where artists from various parts of the Nigeria and other countries converged on Lagos to take advantage of the Art X Lagos to exhibit their art works and take advantage of the market. In a similar vein, Nigeria’s longest running visual art festival for youth, Life in My City Art Festival LIMCAF also had a successful outing this year.

The Festival secured more sponsorship from MTN Foundation and Ford Foundation. Life in My City Festival participated in the Dak’Art biennale this year with a huge contingent (made up of a back log of previous winners in the LIMCAF Enugu). They were solely sponsored by Professor El Anatsui, the renowned Nigerianbased artist of Ghanaian origin, received credit for the LIMCAF team presence in Dak’Art. His foundation sponsored the participation of the 18 young artists after winning the Emeritus Professor El Anatsui International Travel Opportunity to Dak’Art.

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