On Topic: COVID-19 and the Arts

Nduwhite is an artist.

Ndubuisi “Nduwhite” Ahanonu is the executive director for the International Institute for Creative Development. He talks about possible changes in the Nigerian art space, post-COVID-19. 

With art galleries and museums around the world, closed, do you think art appreciation in Nigeria would be strong enough to warrant alternative viewing options?

Yes, there are possibilities. I believe some Nigerians also viewed some of the online exhibitions that were online. In time, this could become a trend [in Nigeria] people but I think, post-COVID-19, the tradition of going to the galleria and museums will remain.

Can you envisage a change in business model and employment opportunities in the art world as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, of course. This is a global disruption with a lot of opportunities. Some of the new job opportunities would be for online marketers. Online advertising will increase, new technologies will come out of this and virtual tools. Most importantly, we will have what I call the silent stakeholder – “the environment”. We will have people getting employed to investigate and predict business environment – environmentalists and virologists sitting in board meetings.
More change will be witnessed around the new media art/artist: the photographers, the videos artists and graphic designers – because there will be more virtual existence and these services would be in high demand as well. We may notice opportunities for creative content developers and web designers as well. Other possible new jobs would be virtual exhibition designers and renewed desire for hybrid architects to design alchemic architecture.

Are you aware of any palliative measures being implemented by local art collectives?

Yes. The Nlele Institute supported over thirty artists with an emergency fund. I believe there are a few international opportunities going on as well as grants and open calls.

Art and culture does not seem to be a priority in the bigger picture of Nigeria’s pandemic response. Why should this be different?

Hopefully as the interest in oil is changing, we will begin to look at the intangibles. [Nigeria] just has to get our values right.
Just like our government copied verbatim all the international measures for COVID-19, you would have expected them to, before now, also copy the cultural values and policies of countries with high art like Nigeria. But again, with the level of poverty in Nigeria, we are stuck on the preliminary needs of man…the journey is still far.

How can Nigerian artists offer hope during these times?

The question would have been, how can the Nigerian government work with Nigerian artists to offer hope? The Kenyan government has made KES 100 million available to artists, musicians and actors so that they can keep producing content and entertaining audiences. Similar interventions took place in Germany.



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