Ikpakronyi seeks support to revive NGA
The newly appointed Acting Director General, National Gallery of Art, Dr. Simon O. Ikpakronyi, has vowed to return the parastatal to its former glory.
According to him, “NGA will not be dormant any longer. We will take the National Gallery of Art, Nigeria to that level that it will compete favourably with galleries of other nations. Let my people know that NGA shall not be quiet again.”
While blaming the unusual quiet to lack of fund, he nevertheless pledged to make NGA as vibrant as it used to be through alternative funding sources.
“Most of the programmes that stopped along the line were associated with lack of funds but we are praying that this will not continue in the National Gallery of Art.
“In whatever way or manner we can, we are going to bring back these programmes without solely relying on government finding. We will no longer be dormant. That is all I can say.”
Not only did he promise to revive old programmes, Ikpakronyi is equally thinking ahead on ensuring that NGA compete favourably with its counterparts across the globe.
Some of the programmes put in place by former chief executives of NGA and most of which have been abandoned during the administration of Abdullahi Muku include the annual Independent Exhibition, Saturday Art Club, Children’s Day Art Exhibition, National Children Art Exhibition, Annual Stakeholders’ Forum as well as Lagos Art Expo.
“The independent exhibition organized annually by Society of Nigerian Artists, which held about five times and stopped was one way of bringing artists together from all over the country.
“To achieve that, we need to constitute a committee that will meet with the founding fathers of Society of Nigerian Artists. The committee will meet with them and learn how they achieved it during their time so that it will help us to revive that programme.
“It is our hope that it will start this year at the Independence Day celebration at whatever level. It will start from Lagos before taking it outside.
“If we revive it and use it as a forum of interaction by artists on a yearly basis, it will help the sector.
“I also intend to take off with Nigeria Art Biennale, which logo was launched long ago to replace the African Regional Summit and Exhibition on Visual Arts (ARESUVA).
“We may not have to rely on government for funding. Our plan is to seek alternative sources of sponsorship for most of the programmes. We will go to art collectors, good spirited individuals and organisations that support arts.
“We have to start from somewhere. If we successfully host three programmes of international standard in a year, it will be a good start.”
Besides these, the Acting D.G. expressed the desire to support individual and group exhibitions with logistics to create the necessary awareness about the sector.
To take children along, he promised to return the Saturday Art Club organised in all the outstations and which often culminate into Children’s Day Celebration and art exhibition.
The programme started losing its steam when the head office decided to leave the children art club and the Children’s Day Exhibition to outstations.
All the winning works at the event were brought together at the yearly National Children Art Exhibition, where prizes were given out.
According to Ikpakronyi, the idea was to encourage the younger generations to build careers in arts and also to enable parents support their children who exhibited interest in visual art.
Unfortunately, most of these programmes were dropped unceremoniously one after the other until NGA became a grave yard of some sort.
The new boss, a professional visual artist, no doubt, appeared willing to turn around the fortune of NGA with some of the ideas already conceived on his mind. One of such plans is to secure a land for a temporary exhibition ground.
To do this, Ikpakronyi plans to set up a committee that will take up the responsibility to securing a land for the Gallery.
Aside from providing space for NGA collections, the place will also serve as a temporary exhibition ground for individual and group artists.
“Because we don’t have an edifice called National Gallery of Art, Nigeria, all that we have done over the years are not noticed.
“Even the works collected are in the store suffocating. So many of them, especially wood sculptures have been eaten up by termites while others have changed colours. Works in various media have been affected in various ways.
“So, if they succeed in getting a parcel of land where we can build a temporary structure for exhibition and to save our works rather than allow them go bad in the store, I will appreciate it,”he said. “We want to also cry out to some of our stakeholders. We had the Think Tank during Joe Musa’s time. They included the big time art collectors. Their responsibility then was to see how NGA is positioned to compete with global standard.”
According to him, “we will also have the art collectors’ forum because the think tank will not comprise all the art collectors that we would be meeting. Majority of what they have collected are not known.
“We will see how to assist them in organizing exhibition of their collection. That is the exhibition of the collections of art collectors.”
Meanwhile, the new NGA boss has promised to resume action on the new bill, which will reposition the parastatal to generate revenue. Although it was presented to the National Assembly during the 8th Assembly, nothing much was done before the end of the session.
Ikpakronyi, however, assured that everything possible would be done to get the bill signed into an act. When that is achieved, the parastatals, among several other benefits, would be empowered to collect revenue through exhibitions.