Director General of the National Council for Arts and Craft and President of the World Craft Council (WCC) Otunba Runsewe said the International Arts and Crafts (INAC) expo has successfully empowered ordinary Nigerians who showcased their products and brands at the event.
Runsewe who spoke at the 14th edition of the expo held at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, said the economic empowerment of ordinary was the aim of the event and President Buhari’s desire.
‘‘For me, they have made money and that’s the whole idea. We had over 14 ambassadors who were all very excited and felt at home at the expo. People have told them that Nigeria is unsafe and that insecurity abound. But despite our challenges it won’t stop us from moving to the next level.
“(with the expo) We are saying that we are expanding Nigeria’s economy beyond oil. We are telling the whole world that we have more resources, more capabilities than just oil. Oil is just one of them. We have woken up to our senses to showcase our strength as a people, and I believe it will be a new beginning for us all,” said Runsewe.
But creatives in the fashion and art sector have urged the federal government to support other sectors of the creative industry beyond Nollywood that ensure a trickle-down effect in the nation’s economy.
Speaking at the INAC Expo fashion designer, Mitaire Edosomwan, and visual artist, Akachukwu Chukwuemeka, said with younger people interested in skills development, and with the impact both have made in the lives of middle-and-lower class Nigerians government should support the sectors as part of its plan to diversify the nation’s economy.
Edosomwan said there is a huge market in the fashion industry that Nigeria is yet to tap into fashion designing to footwears, fashion merchandising to fashion styling, textile production among others. And with the increasing interest in skills learning by Nigerian youths, the sector can become a huge income and revenue generator.
To expand its revenue generating capacities, she said the sector requires funding. ‘‘Fashion is a huge market for the economy. We still have a lot to tap into. From experience, I have had a lot of young people who have come to my factory or called me to say, “I want to learn this (fashion) skill. It is an income and revenue generator but. But the challenge like I said is funds. We really need funds, and if government can assist with the funding that will make a difference,’’ said the fashion designer.
Unveiling the unseen contributors to the success of artists beyond the finished artworks displayed at galleries, visual artist, Akachukwu Chukwuemeka said the visual arts have a huge impact on the middle-and-low class economy – providing jobs for carpenters that frame houses and make stretchers for artists to the local women that source and prepare clay for sculptors and ceramists. The sector also feeds the art materials shop owners, gallery attendants, cleaners, and security guards.
‘‘Each of these groups of people have at least two dependents and the income they make from being part of the process of art making supports the economy at the grassroots level.’’
‘‘When we talk about the creative industries and diversification from the oil economy people tend to omit the arts and craft. Policymakers pay more attention to Nollywood and fashion forgetting that a lot of artistes work in those industries as dancers, designers, concept creators, graphics designers in advert firms and illustrators in the aircraft, auto manufacturing and fashion houses,’’ said Chukwuemeka.
He urged federal government to partner with media organizations in the promotion of Nigerian arts and craft at the global arts scene.