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Creative industry can transform Nigeria’s economic fortunes – Bolaji Lawal

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Creative industry can transform Nigeria's economic fortunes – Bolaji Lawal

The Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Bolaji Lawal, has said that the creative industry can transform the fortunes of the Nigerian economy if harnessed.

Lawal said this at a press conference on Thursday to announce the commencement +234 Art Fair in Lagos on Friday.

The pan-African bank, African Finance Corporation and others are partnering to boost the creative industry with the +234 Art Fair.

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According to Lawal, the exhibition curated by Soto Gallery is targeting young ‘un-galleried’ emerging Nigerian artists.

He said, “The way the country is right now, we have to see how we can help ourselves create a sense of belonging, a feeling of growth, and hope for young people. So, what we have done is look at young promising Nigerians across the country and we are giving them a platform to grow. It is not about us, it is about the country and it is about the creative industry.

“This creative industry can be a source of economic turnaround for the country. You see how the artistes go out and earn dollars. Now, we are hoping that a few of the ones who will exhibit here will turn out to be dollar-earning international artists over the medium-term and if we can bring out five or 10 people to a higher level of financial freedom and independence, then we have succeeded.

“AFC is also a sponsor because they share the same values and aspirations that we have. We have about four co-sponsors. We have AFC, Leadway, Trace, Chivita and LG. You know when you start something positive or good, everyone will come along to help you achieve it.”

The founder of Soto Gallery and Curator +234 Art Fair, Mrs Tola Akerele, said, “This is a platform, not just for people to see their works but with the workshops with specialists, they will be able to elevate their practice and make contributions to the economy locally and even globally. We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Ecobank.

“It is a 10-day event and we have several workshops running. There are main sections to the event including fine art, photography and sculpture. This is a first of many. It is a trial; we will see how it goes. Working with artists and giving them skills to make them better is key to us and Ecobank has this projecting Nigerian creatives initiative. So, our values are aligned.”

Akerele added that the platform had been running for about eight years on a smaller scale, noting that from over 700 applications, 222 artistes were selected to exhibit at the art fair.

This is not Ecobank Nigeria’s first foray into the creative industry, as it is behind the yearly Adire Lagos Experience.

It also organised the Photography, Art, and Design Exhibition to commemorate World Photography Day in 2022.

The bank also partnered “Songs & Stories” With Cobhams Asuquo; Redbull Dance Your Style; BellaNaija Style Summit and Loosing Daylight (An exhibition of the history of Nollywood organised by Nse Ipke-Etim).

Ecobank recently opened a studio known as Ecobank EPAC Studios, to support creatives.

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