ActionAid Nigeria, a social justice organisation, has raised concerns on the widening gap between artists living in excluded communities and professional artists.
It explained that in the 18 years it has carried out operations in Nigeria, it has met hundreds of talented artists in rural communities doing work as good as that of professionals but making peanuts as proceeds.
At the press conference in Abuja, Tuesday, the Country Director of the group, Ene Obi said, “through the 18 years of our existence in Nigeria, ActionAid has met hundreds of talented artists living in poor communities whose main livelihood is production of arts and crafts of diverse forms.
“These local artists have farmlands or cattle rearing as an alternate source of income mainly because sales of artworks alone are unsustainable for their families; we have met with incredibly amazing artists whose artworks sell for as low as two thousand Naira, whereas, their professional counterpart could sell similar artwork for millions of Naira because of the level of professionalism manifest in the production and appearance of the final product”.
As an avenue to build human capacity for sustainable livelihood and national development, Action Aid has partnered with the Ministry of Information and Culture to develop the Art for Development (Art4Dev) initiative in order to bring some of these talents to limelight.
The Art4Dev is scheduled to commence with an exhibition from June 28 and 29 at The Pavilion, near the International Conference Centre (ICC) and end with a gala night on June 30 at Transcorp Hilton Abuja where exclusive artworks donated by professional artists will be auctioned to raise funds to intensify ActionAid’s interventions across Nigeria.
ActionAid said the exhibition seeks to create a platform for local artists be trained as well as to display their work; for art lovers to shop while connecting local and professional artists to share experiences and network.
Other aims highlighted by the group was to encourage entrepreneurship, reduce unemployment, empower people living in poor communities and promote creative and locally sourced arts and crafts handiwork within Nigeria.
The group said it looks forward to the time when artists from poor communities would also have opportunities to partake in national and international exhibitions through sponsorship from duty bearers like the local government they belong to, their state government, the relevant ministries and art agencies.