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Theatre Arts practitioners want enabling environment to excel, impact

A performance at the University of Jos Open Air Theatre
Some Theatre Art practitioners have called on the relevant authorities and stakeholders to provide the enabling environment for them to excel and impact positively in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
They made the call during a plenary at the Abuja Literary and Arts Festival on Friday in Abuja.
Lead discussant, Seun Odukoya a theatre practitioner and actress identified lack of permanent venue for theatre art to showcase productions as one of the major challenges in the sector.
“Space is a major challenge. Apart from FCT Arts and Culture Centre at Garki, Area 10 and maybe Merit House, there is not proper centre for practitioners to operate.
“Getting a space for rehearsals is expensive and where you use for rehearsals may not be where you will use for performance; it is not easy.
“The government needs to come to our rescue because in the whole of Abuja, we are finding it difficult to operate in such a way that will attract people to come.
“We need a kind of permanent theatre for practitioners in the FCT to operate and create impact,’’ Odukoya said.
Similarly, Chioma Ezeani, chief Executive Officer of Dabb’s Media and Events said though collaboration among practitioners was good, there is no enabling environment to break even.
According to her, she had rich experience in organising music concerts and bringing in celebrities from far and near to perform in Abuja.
She said that sponsors were always interested in such music concerts because they know that turn out of audience would be massive.
“But when you approach same sponsors on the area of theatre art, they withdraw and show no interest because they feel theatre would not pull crown to their expectations.
“Even when you go to banks to borrow money for theatre events, they would not oblige you; they would want to know how much you will make on a production.
“I don’t blame them because the enabling environment is not there that people would appreciate. Many people in FCT don’t patronise drama and other theatre event.
“I had an experience last year; after I had put in so much from my pockets, only few people turn out; I lost about N1.8 million,’’ it was heartbroken. There is need to improve the sector.
Also, Pope Egbuche, co-founder and General Manager of Africa Renaissance Theatre said practitioners should also shoulder the blame of the current nature of theatre in the FCT.
“In terms of marketing we have failed; we have failed to orient the people about theatre so as to instigate their interest.
“However, we are working on collaborations to move forward even though it is not easy because the theatre involve writers, directors, stage manager, production manager, light and many others.
“Also, business owners who have spaces don’t understand theatre and thus would rather give it out for something else than to theatre practitioners,’’ Egbuche said.
Jerry Adesewo, the artistic director of Arojah Royal Theatre said the need for collaboration could not be overemphasised adding that the prospects of theatre in FCT are good.
He said practitioners in the FCT always get reviews of their productions but no enough social media influence.
“But we will get there; we shall be going to communities away from the city centre to perform; however, we are beginning to fill the gap.
“On monthly performances, we, the theatre professionals in the FCT are doing our best to ensure we have a one stop shop complex to showcase performance. (NAN)

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