Nigeria’s ‘ember’ clash of culture programming

Lagos is unarguably Nigeria’s culture capital. Its sprawling population has an appetite to consume culture. It is also where most culture workers and producers converge to do their work and earn a living. Those who don’t live in the city itch to come here to express themselves and luxuriate in the expansiveness of the culture life.

But the culture calendar is often cluttered towards end of year when most of the significant festivals hold. This is a source of worry for most observers, particularly the literary art with its fairly inelastic audience. Festival producers jostle to attract the same audience to these events that clash in the months of October and November when there is a mad rush to curate these tantalizing, never-to-be missed festivals.

Unfortunately, the clash of culture festivals goes beyond Lagos, as two such festivals may happen at the same time in different parts of the country and would-be attendees are torn between which to attend and not attend. Last year while Lagos Theatre Festival 2017 was being held, National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) deemed it fit to hold its convention in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital. That was one aberrant fixture that many in the theatre field could not reconcile themselves with. What was worse, not even a single play or drama skit was staged at a convention organised by theatre practitioners!

This year the clash of culture programming is at its peak. While MUSON Festival 2018, which opened last Wednesday, October 18, winds up today, Sunday, October 28, 2018, Association of Nigerian Authors’ (ANA) yearly international convention 2018 also started last week Thursday, October 25, 2018 while Lola Shoneyin-inspired Ake Book and Art Festival 2018, which relocated from Abeokuta to Lagos early this year, also opened the same day as ANA.

Essentially, these are two writers’ festivals competing for the same book loving audience. While ANA’s ended yesterday, Ake also ends today. It would have made a lot of difference if one were coming to an end while the other was opening, especially since organisers of both events know each other and could easily have had a conversation over the timing.

While ANA and Ake book and art events are happening in Lagos, Federal Government-organised National Arts Festival (NAFEST) 2018 is taking place in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.

In fact, just as these festivals are winding down, Efe Paul Azino-led Lagos International Poetry Festival (LIPF) 2018 will open on Wednesday, October 31 through November 4, 2018. With its international guest list just like Ake, LIFP 2018 is a convergence of some of the world’s contemporary poets. As LIPF 2018 also comes to an end on Sunday, November 4, next day, Monday, November 5, Messr Jahman Anikulapo and Toyin Akinosho-inspired Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF 2018) opens till 11, 2018.

With the same breathless book loving audience being lured to patronise these festivals, little wonder just how many book purchases can be made on the limited resources. Book fatigue would certainly set in and rob organisers of healthy purchases if these festivals had been properly spaced out all through the year.

In fact, from November 5 through 9, Joshua Alabi-inspired Kininso International Festival of Theatre 2018 will clash with LABAF 2018, as the two events run concurrently. Not done yet with the clumsy calendar and programming of culture events, starting from November 11 through 18, as LABAF draws its curtain, Kenneth and Brenda Uphopho-organised Lagos Fringe Festival 2018 will open to theatre and film enthusiasts also in Lagos. Also thrown in the mix is West Africa’s premier international art fair, Tokini Peterside-led Lagos Art X 2018, which opens from November 2 through 4.

While the ‘ember’ months of October and November are packed to the brim with culture events, from December all through till next year September would be famished months where nothing culturally exciting happens. Culture programmers must begin earnest harmonization of these events so they are spread out evenly all through the year for the robust engagement of the larger culturally conscious Nigerians. Culture programmes must come together and talk, as their clumsy event arrangement is a nightmare for art journalists to keep up for thorough reportage.

Source: G Entertainment


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