Friday, 20 October 2017

‘Distinct lack of Performance Spaces in Nigeria led me to Found Terra Kulture’ – Bola Austen Peters

On this week’s episode of ‘Marketplace Africa’, the programme examines Nigeria’s recent investments in the arts. 



Terra Kulture, a centre for arts and performance, was founded by Bola Austen-Peters in 2013 after the former attorney discovered there was a distinct lack of performance spaces in Nigeria. She tells the programme: “Unfortunately, we don’t have many places like this in Nigeria. I think [this is] probably the only one right now that can give you the full technicals and this kind of space to perform.”

The performance space has been successful since its opening, having produced many shows which have toured internationally. Additionally, the centre has proven to be lucrative for local businesses as the 400-seat theatre is part of a larger complex that includes a restaurant and an art gallery.

The venue is performing so well that the government is aiming to replicate it across Lagos state. Steve Ayorinde, Commissioner for Information and Strategy at Lagos State Government, explains: “There are six theatre projects that [we] are embarking on. We thought that if we can partner with Terra Kulture to recreate this sort of model, in all five divisions in Lagos State, it will be a win-win.”

Each new complex is being constructed with a budget of around one million dollars and Austen-Peters has been contracted by the government to oversee the developments. She outlines why the government is making such a significant investment: “I think increasingly people are realising that the arts are a vehicle for employment and that a lot of money can be generated in Nigeria from [this].”

Olukayode A. Pitan, Bank of Industry CEO, expresses how the industry has a lot of potential, particularly when it comes to employment: “It’s a large, growing area that employs a lot of Nigerians. We are happy to be part of those who are making it happen.”

Ayorinde confirms that these investments will benefit employment rates: “There are millions and millions of our youths looking for jobs. There are jobs waiting in the creative sector and this is the reason why we are embarking on this [project].”

The Bank of Industry has recently made many investments in entertainment projects across the country. Pitan says that this has already been successful: “It’s not only the films we finance, we finance film houses, theatres, [and] the equipment. So when you look at the whole value chain, as a bank we are making money.”

Nigerians are beginning to place value on all aspects of the creative industries, as many realise that it’s not just Nollywood that has business potential. President Buhari even included the creative industry in his economic recovery plan and believes the sector will play a large role in Nigeria’s plan to diversify from oil. The Bank of Industry values the sector at about three billion dollars but the Lagos government believes the economic impact can be far greater.

Not only is Terra Kulture attractive to investors in terms of employment, the business model as a whole is extremely profitable. She tells the programme: “It was important that we established a model that can sustain itself. And the multifaceted nature of what we built here – the gallery, the restaurant, the theatre space… All of that comes together to sustain the space.”

Using this model for inspiration, the six new complexes being built by the Lagos State Government are expected to open in the middle of 2018.

‘CNN Marketplace Africa’ airs Friday 20th October at 1615 WAT on CNN International.

The programme also airs at the following times:

Saturday 21st October at 1615 WAT

Sunday 22nd October at 0100 WAT and 0715 WAT

Monday 23rd October at 0200 WAT and 1745 WAT

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