Creative Industry Financing Confab starts today

•To be declared open by Osibanjo

BY OSA AMADI and Chris Onuoha

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohhammed, Thursday, announced the forthcoming Creative Industry Financing Conference billed for 17 and 18 July, 2017 at the Eko Hotel, Lagos. The conference is being organized by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in conjunction with the Think Tank Media.

From left: Tony Okoroji; Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Informationa and Culture Minister; Mo Abudu, EbonyLife TV; Otunba Segun Runsewe, DG, NCAC at the roundtable.

The main objective of the conference, said the minister, is to take the industry into a golden era of smooth access to short and long term financing, world class management, as well as local and international distribution. “We conceived this conference because of our realization that lack of access to financing is stunting the growth of the Creative Industry. It is the latest in a series of conferences and other events that we have held since assuming office. Recall that we held the landmark National Summit on Culture and Tourism last year to chart the path for the industry. Most of its recommendations are already being implemented. Also, only this Monday, we held a Roundtable on the Creative Industry here in Lagos. Recall also that we have signed a number of MoUs with the Bank of Industry, Tony Elumelu Foundation, and the British Council – all for the sole purpose of boosting the Creative Industry,” the minister said.

He said the Administration attaches a whole lot of importance to the Creative Industry, which is in line with its cardinal programme of diversifying the economy away from oil. Other sectors being developed into pillars of the economy, he added, include the Agriculture and Solid Minerals. “There is no better demonstration of the high priority given to the Creative Industry than the fact that Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, himself will declare open the Creative Industry Financing Conference.”

Topics such as ‘’Government’s Role in Funding Creative Industry’, ‘The Bank of Industry Experience’, ‘Fundamentals of financing film, Television and Music Production’, as well as ‘Film, Television and Digital Distribution’ will be tackled by global experts from within and outside Nigeria.

The minister revealed that Niger Republic has also indicated its willingness to attend the event, having shown a growing interest in “our efforts to grow the Creative Industry.” We expect a large turnout of industry stakeholders at the forthcoming conference. The overall essence of all our efforts is to transform the Creative Industry to a Creative Economy. We also believe that this transformation must be driven by the private sector, with the government providing the enabling environment.

To those who may still be wondering:  what is in the Creative Industry? My answer is that it is Nigeria’s new oil. Other countries have also taken advantage of the industry to grow their economy. The Creative industry contributed 84.1 billion Pounds Sterling to the British economy in 2014. It also contributed 698 billion dollars to the US Economy, according to a 2015 report. Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind, hence we are ready to explore and exploit the new oil.

Fielding question from Vanguard on whether the administration will give priority and support to creative works with theme on national unity amongst Nigerians given the heightened agitations now in the country, the minister said “yes, we will.”

It was a special gathering of the major stakeholders in the creative sector in Nigeria  as the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, in conjunction with Film House Management, organized a roundtable conference aimed at repositioning and moving the creative industry in Nigeria forward.

Notable names who  brainstormed to chart the way forward towards a speedy realization of the agenda include the Honourable Minister for Information and  Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; The Director General, National Council for arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe; Tony Elumelu, Chairman Heir Holdings; Kene Mkparu, Chief Executive Film House Cinema; Tony Okoroji of COSON; the DG, Nigerian Television authority; The DG Nigeria Tourism Corporation; Representatives from the Bank of Industry Mo Abudu, EbonyLife TV boss; Bolanle Austen-Peters, the Terrakulture boss and many others from the Film, Music, Art, theater and media.

In his earlier remarks, the Honourable Minister, Lai Mohammed said: “I must say the enthusiasm gotten from the audience confirmed the passion and zeal of the stakeholders in the creative industry to move the sector forward. I am here to fastrack our main objective of transforming our creative industry. This administration has no doubt that the plan to transform the creative industry within the economy must be driven by the private sector. It is self-evident that the modest role that has been achieved in this sector so far, either in music, fashion or art is done without the government. It therefore, stands to reason that when the government provides the enabling environment, and the private sector on the driver seat, transformation can be realized in a short time. I will say this is the latest of this administration’s unstoppable determination to move the creative industry from the fringes to the mainstream of the economy. We are already working with the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Bank of Industry and others to create jobs and ensure that we finance the industries and all others. We have also strucked a global partnership to give the creative industry a boost.

To honour the partnership, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, the UN world tourism organisation, CNN, are the medium through which we will project the various Nigerian creative industry. We are kick-starting this project with 13-episode production showcasing the various creative productions in Nigeria. This will include among others, choice of location which allow us to showcase the various industries we have in Nigeria, choice of film to show the array of culture we have in the nation’s fashion industry, choice of soundtrack that will highlight our rich music productions, broadcasting that will showcase other talents and technical party and provide the platform to show that there’s no camera equipment that we don’t have in Nigeria. As part of the project, we will also run a programme on CNN  showcasing the 20 Nigerians to watch in the industry which will be selected by the industry stakeholders to ensure authenticity.

Our creative industry is doing well. Experience in other lands confirms that the creative industry contributed 84.1 billion pounds to the British economy in 2014.  Figures released by the British Department of Culture Media and Sport, indicate that it was an increase of 7 million pounds in the year before. The figures also show that the number of jobs in the industry was almost 9%, a double of the rest of the economy. The creative industry employs more people than the automotive industry in the United States. You can see why this administration is dogged to grow the creative industry.

The honourable Minister emphasized that the roundtable is not intended to be another talk show but one meant to highlight the international best practices that will enhance the business of the sector and then find solutions in all the area concerned. “We will dialogue and engage the key personnel on the business of the creative sector while addressing key issues affecting the sector such as intellectual property rights, piracy, education, poverty, power supply, security, access to finance, distribution, infrastructure, technical competence, film contents, multiple taxation and others.”

Director General of NTDC, Folorunso Coker, while addressing the audience, was brief in pinpointing those reforms that are necessary to attract interest towards the creative sector of the economy that include access to finance which he said remains abysmally low with attention on how creative projects are presented as collateral in production of film, TV and music products. On public policy reform, he stressed on how to bring all the regulatory laws and bills to ensure that there is common and unified approach to sanitize the sector. Speaking on Public Private Partnerships initiatives, Coker stressed how important the sector holds the for us all.

“Our work is symbiotically connected. This is our strength and we all have to contribute and therefore listen and share our experiences and find common grounds to move up. Our destination is ultimately the same.” He said.

According to him; “The creative industry is not a side story. I believe this should be our main story. Presently, this industry represents our largest assets which is our human capital and demonstrates our enormous potentials. It is our responsibility in the public sector to continue to advocate for more resources for the sector and encourage a deeper understanding of the government of immense responsibility that can come from considered national strategy. I am therefore hopeful that this roundtable will address the core issue that is holding back the development of the sector.”

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