Renowned painter, Kolade Oshinowo, has suggested the creation of art and craft centres across the 774 local government areas of the country with a view to engaging unemployed youths.
Oshinowo expressed the view that if youths were engaged in art and craft they would have no time for crime.
The artist said it was time that the Nigerian government took more interest in art, regretting that art schools were few in the country and there was no national gallery of art.
Oshinowo, alongside legendary artist, Prof. Bruce Onabrakpeya, Erelu Abiola Dosunmu; the British Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria, Ms Harriet Thompson; and the Australian Honorary Consul in Lagos, Mr Alan Davies, spoke on Thursday at the 11th Distinguished Lecture organised by The Ben Enwonwu Foundation in honour of the late celebrated Nigerian artist, Prof. Ben Enwonwu.
The lecture with the theme, ‘Art: An instrument for peace, conflict resolution and socio-economic transformation,’ held at the MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos.
While responding to a question on art promotion in Nigeria, Oshinowo said, “I have canvassed that if only government can establish art and craft centres in all local government areas of the country, it will take a lot youths off the street, because a hand that is engaged in creativity will not have time to engage in crime,” he said.
He recalled that during his time at Deputy Rector in Yabatech, he was always certain that art students would never be found among cultists.
He said, “When you are engaged in a creative activity, you want to see it to the completion, no distraction. That is what we are talking about but this aspect has been neglected and we are yet to fill that gap because the government keeps making the mistake that art is not significant.”
However, Onabrakpeya asked artists to shift attention from government to what they could do as individuals.
Onabrakpeya said, “We are putting too much weight on the government; I think the ordinary people in the society should take care of art and know the value of art. It is the people who should start and the government will follow and help.”
Agreeing with Onabrakpeya, Dosunmu said government had over the years failed to show enough interest in art.
She said, “We cannot rely on the government of the day. We have been in the vanguard of promoting art and culture in the last 40 years and they are not interested. Whenever you have a ministry, art and culture is always an appendage of something. So, they are not ready. We need to take the bull by the horns ourselves. And there is a lot that we can do as individuals in the promotion of the art.”
Thompson, who delivered the lecture, made a case for better women participation in governance and policymaking in Nigeria.