By Anote Ajeluorou
Nigeria’s creative industry has struck a major breakthrough deal with the country’s foremost business community in Lagos in an innovative collaboration that will see both parties in close mutual interaction. The venue for this unique partnership will be at this year’s Lagos International Trade Fair (LITF) organized yearly by Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), which will be in partnership with Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) and scheduled to hold from Friday, November 6 through Sunday, November 15, 2015.
This year’s trade fair has ‘Enhancing Value Addition in the Non-Oil Economy’ as theme, to draw attention to the crisis of a mono product economy currently plaguing the country, with fall in international oil prices.
The Lagos Creative Industry Fair, which will also be known as Eko Akete, is a new addition to the trade fair programming and is meant to widen its scope to include other sectors that are usually left out, especially the creative industry. Another addition is an Investment Forum (to hold Tuesday, November 10) at MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos, and designed to enable business executives at the fair to interface; it’s the Business-to-Business exhibition (to hold November 9-13) designed for networking during the fair. It will serve as ‘master class and intellectual power house for all that is needed in exploiting the non-oil investment opportunities in Nigeria’.
A statement from the organisers while unveiling the Lagos International Trade Fair programme recently noted, “Inspired by the convergence for which Lagos remains preeminent, the Lagos Creative Industry Fair, Eko Akete, celebrates African creativity of traditional and contemporary art (creative and performance), literary works, fashion, music and Nollywood.
“Eko Akete is a 10-day cultural manifestation during which hundreds of performers will animate Freedom Park, Lagos, both for indigenous and international acts, fused into the biggest and best trade exposition in West and Central Africa, the Lagos International Trade fair. A union of Lagos International Trade Fair and the prominent Lagos Book and Arts Festival (LABAF 2015), organised by Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) reputedly ‘Africa’s Cultural Picnic’, Eko Akete aims to explore the linkage between the creative industry and formal business. This aspect of the trade fair will focus on exposing the business side of the Nigerian creative industry and have those in its value chain interface with local and international players and investors”.
Programme Chair of CORA Mr. Jahman Anikulapo expressed happiness at the new deal and said, “We need to network what we in entertainment and art have with the business sector. We’ve carried a campaign for the creative sector to interface with the business sector for long. I’m happy that LCCI is partnering with us to give credence to the creative sector. In the corporate jungle of Lagos Business District, Freedom Park (venue for Lagos Creative Industry Fair) is an oasis of peace. We thank LCCI for the partnership”.
The collaboration is also designed as “a platform for the ever-growing creative industry to meet with key decision and policymakers, regulatory agencies, media content buyers, investors and a rare opportunity for partnership using best global practice”.
President and Chairman of Council, LCCI, Alhaji Remi Bello, said at the unveiling of the fair’s prospectus that there was a need to pay attention to the long neglected non-oil export aspect of the economy in the face of dwindling revenues from oil export.
According to him, “Through the theme, the chamber therefore draws attention to the imperative of non-oil export, harness our human resources with modern technology to add value to these non-oil export that will result in improved earnings for both the Nigerian economy and invariably her people”.
Chairman, Trade Promotion Board of LCCI, Dr. Olawale Cole said, “With three venues (TBS Cricket Pitch, MUSON Centre and Freedom Park), all within walking distance of each other, creating a huge business hub on Lagos Island within the 10-day fair period has become a reality. We have, therefore, opened the doors of Lagos International Trade fair to attract exhibitors from virtually all sectors of the Nigerian economy and beyond. In creating these new segments and venues, we have formed alliances with competent individuals and organisations to improve our capacities. No matter the kind of exhibition you seek, Lagos International Trade Fair has prepared a platform to meet your needs. Therefore, the days of sector exclusion is over”.
A statement from CORA Secretariat expresses its excitement at the partnership with Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries for the recognition being accorded the creative sector, as all indicators show that the future growth of Nigeria’s economy resides with this vibrant but neglected sector.
It read, “The obvious non-recognition of the potential of the creative industry and the consequent low estimation of its contribution to the national economy, in spite of the huge economic prospects contained in the various reports so far made validate the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s resolve that the sector should occupy a central position in its annual Lagos International Trade Fair project.
“In activating this resolve the LCCI has decided to design a special programme that will fully explore the business potentials of the creative sector, and as well project it distinctly to the thousands of visitors that throng the Trade Fair yearly. It is for this reason that the LCCI has entered into partnership with Committee for Relevant Art, CORA), organisers of the yearly Lagos Books and Arts Festival (LABAF) to use the platform of its yearly LABAF to stage the maiden edition of the Lagos Creative Industries Fair (LCIF) as adjunct to the Lagos International Trade Fair.
“The LCIF will thus feature the exhibition and business sessions of the Creative Industry sub-groups of LCCI, and will be hosted by CORA at Freedom Park (old Broad street Prison ground), from November 6 through 15.
The Lagos Creative Industries Fair (LCIF) will be co-hosted by the Freedom Park, which is only a few minutes’ walk from the main Trade Fair ground at Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos. Freedom Park (third leg of the LCIF tripartite partnership), reputed as the busiest and most active centre for creative productions and expressions, provides a unique cultural ambience suited to the sub-industry.
“A Creative Industry Roundtable, an all-encompassing forum on the current trend and the future of the creative industry featuring presentations, conversations, discussions and showcases by/between/among/ leaders of the various sub-sectors in the creative industry – music, movie, comedy, theatre, fashion, media, showbusiness and others - especially the interconnectedness and inter-dependency among the various sub-sectors. It will also feature a celebrity showcase and high-value performances”.
Sectorial representation include Literature - exhibition, workshops, seminars will be held for publishers, book dealers, book sellers, writers, printers – digital and traditional; Visual Arts - exhibitions, seminar, workshop, masterclasses, showcases to be held for fashion, painting and sculpture, cartoon and comics, movies and TV, multi-media, etc. Performance Arts - exhibitions, concerts, showcases, seminars, workshops for theatre, dance, comedy, music and circus.
The creative industry fair will close with a high-value event featuring grand showcases by the top practitioners in the various subsectors – fashion parade, musical concert, comedy showcase, drama and dance performances, visual art exhibitions, film screening and talent hunt, etc.
Some creative industry players present at the event included stage matriarch Mrs. Taiwo Ajai-Lycett and former PMAN Caretaker Committee chairman, Mr. Pretty Okafor.
ANOTHER major innovation that visitors will experience in this year’s trade fair is the experiential VIP lounge being planned to give visitors a different feel from they had known in previous fairs. A marketing group Noisemakers is partnering LCCI to provide a lounge where the entire family can experience the trade fair in a cosy environment. Exhibitors are expected to have a stand inside Noisemakers’s lounge from where visitors can make their orders while being entertained in the lounge with the various games, snacks and other items on offer.
With this innovation, the hassles of moving around the fair all day to get items would have been obviated for an easy shopping instead. According to Noisemakers’ Managing Partner, Mr. Dixon Jubril, “For the first time ever, the 2015 Lagos International Trade Fair will feature ‘A Customer Experience Centre’. It’s a world class hub of entertainment with provision for companies to also exhibit their goods and services, sitting squarely on a 5,000sqm2 at the heart of Tafawa Balewa Square. The Customer Experience Centre has been created to provide a wide spectrum of entertainment through live performances by top Nigerian music and comedy artistes every single day of the fair. The centre also boasts of regular and VIP lounging facilities to cater for the need of visitors and exhibitors who want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the fair.
“Other features of the customer experience centre include a 500-seater movie centre, games arcade for the family, a food and drink court, bar and lounge and many other recreation for individuals and the family. Big and small companies can take advantage of the over 40,000 visitors to the customer experience centre daily to buy space at the special trade exhibition arena to exhibit their goods and services and connect with their customers.
“The major attraction for exhibitors at the customer experience centre is the distribution of Special Discount Vouchers to the public two months before the start of the trade fair by Noisemakers Nigeria Limited free; this is to drive traffic to the stand of each exhibitor to guarantee patronage. The trade exhibition arena has been specially created as a mixed zone for buying and selling, brand engagement activities such as sales and reward promotions. It also has facility for warehousing and logistics for the delivery of goods directly to customers’ doorstep”.