Biodun Omolayo is the Creative Director of Young at Art, he spoke with ADEOLA OGUNRINDE on the challenges of Visual Art industry in Nigeria and why Buhari’s government should pay more attention to the industry.
How did you become an artist?
It all started as a young child in Owo Ondo state, when I got admission into University of Ilorin ,I wanted to study visual Art but ended up studying performing Art, we were suppose to be the first set of the Visual Art department but unfortunately for us that pick that course that year, we were told that the programme could not start of , after a long discussion , we had to settled for Performing Art under the tutelage of late Professor Zulu Sofola. When I graduated from University of Ilorin I moved to old Oyo State for my service. I served there after which I was given an automatic employment with NYSC because I did well, from there I applied to work in a bank and I got the job in the old FSB now Fidelity Bank. I have always love the Art , one thing I learnt in Performing Arts is you need to know how to manage people, when I got to the banking , things were made easy because I studied Performing Arts. When I was in the banking sector I thought of going back to school to learn Visual Arts. I choose Yaba college of Technology because of my business. It was a part time programme , I did three years after the Industrial attachment I went for HND in graphics , by year 2000 , I got another degree, the next thing I thought was how can I use what I have learnt in school to make a profitable thing out of Life.I had a challenge childhood , thank God instead of it turning out negative it turn out positive. I thought of converting some of those challenges into something that can benefit Children, that was what gave birth to Young at Art. In 2004 I started with my own Children, started coaching them on elements of design, principles of design, how to draw very well, even if you are gifted, you need to understand colours and everything. I invited some other kids on the street telling them it was free, coaching them from morning to afternoon , until one day when one woman came telling me she wanted her children to participate and she was going to pay. She said she doesn’t like free things and if it is free I can’t be held accountable for anything. She suggested I charge ten thousand naira, that was how I started the business of Young at Art. The woman paid thirty –thousand naira and that singular act changed the whole thing. When she brought in her Children , the woman asked me , where is the time –table of what the Children are doing, the next day we put the time table together after which we really re-organise the programme, bringing in facilitators for every course, then age bracket of Children to be taught, that gave the Young at Art a structure. The facilitators are not Artist alone.
Which Visual Art segment did the children find most interesting?
It depends on the methodology on the Child you are tutoring , you can make a Child like any subject. You can make the child like any subject provided you know how to pass the information to the Child. Children love fun , want to express themselves , want to be free without been guard, freedom that is not hindered. The atmosphere is that of fun, The Young at Art logo, you see playshop rather than workshop. All our courses the Children love everything, whether it is painting, sculpture, ceramics, creative thinking techniques or textile Art, we do more than just painting or drawing. Music, dance drama is part of it. We also look for subject that is difficult to handle, we had fun to it and they enjoy it. Apart from English Language, we teach them another international Language French, now we are planning to add German, it is part of the fun, we also want to teach them indigenous Nigerian Languages. We want them to have their fun, when you are relax the best come out of you. I work with the mood of the children.
What are the challenges you face in your kind of job
I want to do more for the Children, the finance is not there, we also need face where the Children can run around , that space needs money
How do you think cooperate Organisations can collaborate to sponsor this kind of Art?
There are so many ways ,I approach many cooperate Organisations, banks , but they are not seeing it ,Young at Art is a child development Programme not just teaching them Visual Art, cutting across every aspect of life. We teach them how to keep their money because the paintings they make here we sell them. For a cooperate organization who are thinking long term should invest on the Child. Young at Art has produced Lawyers, it has been running for eleven years. I have gotten many patronage from the parents of the kids, Children their influence is huge.
What can you say about the Jonathan Administration that will end in a few weeks?
The Jonathan government didn’t invest on Visual Art Industry, the only time we were called upon was during his presidential campaign for re-election, I got an Invitation card, I looked at it and said, so they know I exist all this while yet have done nothing to improve the Art industry. The Buhari government which is coming in should learn from this, capable people must run the art industry not just people who want money for their pockets. Why can’t we have a Bank that is set up to improve the Art Industry where Artist can go and borrow money, the incoming Buhari government should improve Visual Art in Nigeria.