Visual Arts, Artists are greatest losers
An appeal to Mr President: Time to restore a professional artist to headship of National Gallery of Art (NGA)
By Kunle Adeyemi
THE optimism and excitement that the appointment of Mr. Joe Musa as Director-General of National Gallery of Art in 2006 generated were expected. Reason: That was perhaps the first time that a candidate with the right pedigree would be so appointed to man the visual art subsector. In fact, his appointment has gone down in history as first of its kind in 15 years history of the NGA — a parastatal established to manage affairs of the contemporary visual arts sub-sector.
No wonder, Joe Musa’s assumption of office on August 1, 2006 was considered a sunrise, a new dawn for the sub-sector; more so when he had, before then, cut the figure of a seasoned artist with clear vision and mission; and with his leadership traits and acumen, turning around the government agency wouldn’t be a tall order.
This appointment, the artists anticipated would crystallise the long-awaited progressive paradigm shift in the country’s visual arts administration such that creativity would thrive, and the over a decade regime of mediocrity and stagnation that had dogged the life of the Gallery — and by extension fortune of the subsector — hostage, would be overthrown.
Unfortunately, this golden era was short-lived due to activities of ‘feudals’ and ‘cabals’ who had always held the visual arts sub-sector prostrate. These forces are, sadly, currently ‘in charge’ and holding the subsector to ransom; even as they camouflaged as progressive promoters and friends of the visual arts sub-sector.
The political sage Awolowo once said, the worst civilian government is preferable to the best military regime. This maxim can best depict the turn of event in the visual art sub-sector today.
A CONSTANT ‘agitator’ for the visual art sub-sector to be administered rightly, and by competent, qualified hands, Prof. Egonwa in 2007, expressed happiness when eventually a visual artist in the person of Joe Musa was appointed to administer the National Gallery. He said this had been his life-long dream while he served as president of the Society of Nigerian Artists, SNA.
Egonwa insisted that it was an ‘aberration’ for non-artists to “administer art.” This, to him, will not bring meaningful development. His tenure as SNA president, he said, was focussed on the battle for the realisation of this goal, which, however, many could not understand.
In his book, ‘Leadership as an art’, Max de Pree said, “leaders should leave behind them assets and legacies.” This statement manifested in Joe Musa’s short stay in office as Director-General of the NGA. His professional background coupled with dedication, vision, innovation, enthusiasm, commitment to duty and excellence, creativity, integrity were virtues that defined his leadership of the sub sector.
The Nigerian creative visual art space was expanded locally and internationally to the benefits of the players, the industry and the public. The subsector and artists witnessed monumental growth and developments through various creative programmes and initiatives spearheaded by the Musa administration.
The National Gallery of Art became a melting pot for local artists and their colleagues in the Diaspora and those from around the continent. African artists indeed had opportunity to gather and exchange creative ideas and devise continent-wide projects, which brought a larger patronage to works of Nigerian artists.
It is often said that “without the industry aspect of any profession, the profession is bound to die.” Joe Musa’s tenure brought back the mix of theory, practice, and industry and also highlighted the enterprise aspect of the vocation.
The essence of growth and development in a discipline is when it engenders commensurate rewards for its practitioners. Before Musa’s time, the visual arts industry was in a limbo; his arrival brought all the stakeholders together to work and reason for progress of the sector. Issues such as the entrepreneurial aspects of visual arts, marketing, fund sourcing, sponsorship, outlets, packaging, education/training, distribution, administration and management of art were put on the front burner.
Joe Musa made artists realise that the whole visual art world is now borderless; and that our doors could be opened to international expositions; and many of us benefitted. Lagos, Las Vegas, New York, Dakar Biennale, Egypt are a few examples of those borderless doors which Musa’s NGA flung open to the benefit of the artists. The Gallery promoted, encouraged and supervised the participation of Nigerian artists in big shows at many international forums. His short but meaningful era shot the Nigerian visual arts into the global landscape and the scope became expanded through creative initiatives based on interrogation and research into global scenes of art; deep knowledge of administration and practice; dedication, vision, professional boldness and courage.
Pre 2006 National Gallery of Art
The NGA had underlying operational deficiencies from the onset. It was over-populated mostly with unskilled staff and was very polarised along several divides including ethnic and political. Employment imbalance was a major cog, according to Nwosu in 2006.
In a personnel auditing and profiling carried out in 2006, the capacity utilisation was skewed as the NGA was reported to be staffed with holders of Third class and Pass category graduates than those with Second Classes, upper or lower degrees (Personnel Audit report: 2006).
The consequence of this imbalance was that when qualified personnel attempted to join the system, survival intrigues would come into play; and the less qualified engage in outrageous schemes to sabotage such move. This is referred to as “territorial protection” in the civil service parlance. A hypothetical example can be when a director with an Ordinary Diploma (OND) certificate rises through the rank; he will certainly distaste a First Class applicant to come in for fear of being overtaken in the hierarchy.
|Uwa Usen, President of Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA)|
The ratio of statutory to professional staff was also reported to be 5:1 in favour of non-artists. The system was steeped in nepotism; tribalism; and the situation had become evidently deplorable as the staff were only interested in their monthly pay. Motivation was low or absolutely lacking. The will for creative excellence was absent. Any attempt to usher in any form of development was misinterpreted as a witch-hunting instrument to implement downsizing of workforce. Any act of change was an anathema and stirred latent fear, which would be strongly resisted, including employing spiritual or diabolic measures to frustrate the implementation of any positive managerial decisions.
Equally glaring then was the observed lack of a proper space to exhibit the Gallery’s contents. This was even as it was clear that the collections required a major restoration programme to salvage what remained of them.
Documentation and cataloguing of the collection was non-existent. Offers by external resources and expertise to assist in the documentation of the collections were, inexplicably, strongly resisted. Other inhibiting factors included lack of proper funding, no political relevance, envy and deliberate stifling of the Gallery’s operations by the parent ministry and ministers. The system was obviously in need of complete surgical attention and overhaul.
Post 2006 appointment of Joe Musa
THE massive publicity and promotional drive embarked upon by the NGA during Joe Musa administration was unprecedented in the history of the agency. This yielded high level visibility for the parastatal such that it began to attract institutional and state support for its programmes. Among the financially rewarding partnerships generated at the time was the N50miillion sourced from the government of Bayelsa State for ARESUVA 2008. In addition to this, Oceanic Bank released N20 million to the programme to back its status as official banker. Several other notable sponsors from the petroleum sector also identified with the visual art sub-sector through smaller advertisement grants in the brochures.
Stakeholders’ Meeting: The NGA convened a stakeholders’ meeting in early 2007 to draw up a work plan and a blueprint on developmental procedures for the subsector. This was a right step in the right direction, which gave vent to the various programmes the Gallery launched subsequently. The purpose was to carry along the community of professional artists in its developmental process, and it was systemised to become a bi-annual meeting point between the stakeholders and the new leadership of the National Gallery of Art.
Rapport among various units of the community: The sector enjoyed an unprecedented rejuvenation in programmes and attracted large followership. For the first time, collectors and connoisseurs met, beyond the exhibition halls, at seminars and workshops. The subsector became platform for social and political networking as it was recognised as an unpretentious avenue for striking business deals.
Beyond the drudgery of flat exhibition packaging, Abuja as a hosting city received a boost; which is indirectly a response to the Norwegian Ambassador who in 2005 had complained of inactivity in the sector. Attendance multiplied exponentially. This also lent credence to the seeming interests that were generated and sustained with the right drivers. It pointed to the possibility of an awakened interest being possibly converted to economic gain. Among some of the fruits of this new engagement were several invitations extended to the NGA to bring art to alternative spaces. One of such places was the IBB golf club.
Continental networking, building bridges : Over the last 10 years, the African region has taken a tenacious and distinctive approach to development of the arts, culture and tourism sectors. Cultural investment and achievement play a key role in building the self-confidence and ambition of a region facing massive challenges in both economic and social terms. The region now boasts of major new and emerging cultural institutions, an international reputation for public art, and internationally recognised artistic and cultural facilities. Not only has a whole new generation of arts spaces and opportunities emerged, an important change in perception has manifested. The sub-sector is now viewed as a catalyst for change and an important component in national economic regeneration schemes.
African Regional Summit and Exhibition on Visual Arts (ARESUVA)
The African Regional Summit and Exhibition on Visual Arts (ARESUVA) conceptualised in year 2006 by Joe Musa and his team was designed exclusively to spotlight visual arts as a strategy for achieving rapid economic development in the African region. It was envisioned in the context of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). It was meant as a home-grown catalyst for artistic and cultural empowerment.
The first edition of ARESUVA held from September 7 through 13, 2008 brought together artists, art scholars and other stakeholders from around Nigeria, Africa and the Diasporas.
The success of this programme elicited an invitation of NGA to formally present ARESUVA to a roundtable of the African Union in Algiers in October 2008. After the presentation, the AU adopted the project as a continental cultural event.
ARESUVA 2008 indeed, drew participants from many countries aside from Nigeria — Rwanda, Ghana, Uganda, Senegal, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Benin republic, Cote D’Ivoire, Togo, Ethiopia and Nigerian artists in the Diaspora. The event also drew large participants from the media and the general public. On display at the mega exhibition were 201 pieces of artworks in a variety of media. A total of seven well-researched and thought-provoking papers were presented.
The organisation of the first ARESUVA in 2008 marked yet another monumental achievement which is unequalled in visual art administration in Nigeria, even till date. The then culture and tourism minister, Prince Kayode Adetokunbo appraised the programme thus:
“(ARESUVA) in the nearest future, will live up to its billing as a gathering of some of the most creative and promising artists in the continent, drawing to the city of Abuja, Nigeria, art and cultural enthusiasts, art connoisseurs, collectors and art practitioners, act scholars and art aficionados from all over the world.”
It is a shame, and a sign of death of vision that the successors of Musa at the NGA have not been able to organize another edition of the pan-continental project, which has the potential to make Nigeria the hub of visual arts practice on the continent.
Art Expo Nigeria
THIS is one of the new programmes envisioned by the Joe Musa-led administration as a collaborative venture between the National Gallery of Art and the Art Gallery Owners Association of Nigeria (AGAN). It was designed as the biggest art fair in Nigeria with the sole purpose of bringing together over 1,000 Nigerian artists to showcase and market their art in an expo format/trade fair. Gallerist and art manager, Oliver Enwonwu of Omenka Gallery, was quoted in the media as saying, “The fair creates a big market for modern and contemporary Nigeria artworks, exposes gallery owners and entrepreneurs to an international audience as well as provides platform for cultural exchange between Nigeria and the rest of the world.”
This annual event explored the structure of international survey exhibitions, their potentials to reflect on new tendencies in contemporary art and to produce dynamic contexts for the consideration of artists living or working within a defined geographical area.
Wife of Lagos State Governor, Mrs Abimbola Fashola captured it succinctly in a report in The Guardian sometime in 2008, “Art is no longer a past time, it is now a source of entrepreneurial endeavour and I would like to use this opportunity to call on Nigerian banks, gallery owners, art promoters and other stakeholders to assist the visual arts sub sector, which is the bedrock of industrial development to make soft loans and other facilities available to enhance the new entrepreneurial thinking in the visual arts-sector.”
No doubt the Lagos Art Expo provided potential alternatives to conventional exhibitions and the promotion of new talents. The first edition took place in Lagos in August 2008.
Nigerian Visual Arts World Tour (NIVATOUR)
This programme was designed to take Nigeria art on a tour of major cities in the six continents of the world. It was intended to avail the nation an opportunity to showcase its rich artistic heritage to the world. The purpose was to show the cultural and technical skills of the nation’s visual artists to critical scholars presently calling the shots at international artistic programming and development. Within the period it first held, countries such as Egypt, Australia, China, India, America and Mexico already indicated interest in partnering with the NGA in the implementation of the proposed tour. This project was intended to further enhance the already rising value of Nigerian modern visual art.
Art Residency Programme: This is one of the few programmes existing before the arrival of Joe Musa’s administration in 2006. The purpose was for artists to live and work in workshop spaces located in the various stations across the country for a period of one year during which they train and pass on their skills and techniques to upcoming artists in the area of their residency. These young artists with the skills acquired would then be better equipped to ply their trade. It was designed as visual arts vocation’s contribution to the Poverty Alleviation programme of the government. It is a great idea but had been suffering under a wobbling implementation scheme. However, the Joe Musa administration helped to strengthen the programme; it gave it the needed clout and muscle that had been lacking in its operation; and it consequently began to flourish.
Saturday Art Club: This programme also existed as one of the flagship of the pre 2006 NGA. It is a fortnightly “catch them young” programme, which takes place simultaneously in all National Gallery of Art branches/out-stations across the country and at the Abuja headquarters. Pupils and students from nursery, primary and secondary levels meet to express their creativity under the supervision of the Saturday Art Club teachers, who are visual artists working in the National Gallery of Art. The works produced at these meetings are exhibited at the end of the year and prizes are awarded to the best three in each category. The profile of this programme was enhanced with a more professional handling of its organisation.
Children’s Day Programme: The world celebrates Children’s Day on May 27 annually. This is a talent hunt programme and prizes are usually awarded to the top three in each categories in the different genres of art — painting, sculpture, textiles and graphics. The NGA has consistently hosted this programme in all its out-stations concurrently. It has successfully marketed the programme to the private sector under the private, public partnership. It is also a United Nations/UNICEF programme, which Joe Musa and his team turned around.
National Visual Arts Competition: This was one of the programmes institutionalised during the Joe Musa time. As its name implies, it is national in scope. Participants from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory would compete for places at zonal levels. Finalists would meet in Abuja where the top three winners would be decided in the last stage of the competition. This programme was aimed at discovering the artistic ingenuity and potentials of pupils, students and professional artists.
Art Endowments in Tertiary Institutions
(i) Under Musa, NGA operatives travelled to different art schools to interact with the engine room of art production, and endow prizes for the best students in the visual arts departments. This had never been the case with any of the parastatals in the culture sector. Three universities and three polytechnics benefitted from this initial scheme.
(ii) The Gallery liaised with academics from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria to produce an anthology of visual art practice in northern Nigeria. It was also the firs time in the life of the Gallery, and modern art practice in Nigeria.
(iii) Under same leadership, the NGA successfully brokered Scholarships schemes from the Chinese and Mexican governments for arts practitioners to embark on post-graduate studies.
(iv) The Musa leadership secured collaboration with local and foreign agencies like the Ford Foundation (USA), Prince Klaus Fund (The Netherlands) to digitalise the national collection, while also realising the publication of a major National Gallery of Art compendium.
(v) In similar move, the gallery developed partnership with Spanish Embassy, which saw Nigerian artists working on Spanish themes and displaying the work in an exhibition. This proposal marketed by the NGA has now become a common feature in the yearly Spanish Embassy week, while Egyptian Embassy independence celebration and other several diplomatic missions have adopted similar programme.
NGA Educational Sponsorships
(i) Attendance at international Conference: The leadership facilitated and sponsored four Nigerian artists (largest African delegation) to the 2007 InSEA European Regional Congress held at the Universities of Education at Karlsruhe and Heidelberg, Germany. This had never been possible before Musa’s time.
(ii) Sponsorship to Groups and Individual Artists: The group of artists under the nomenclature, ‘Araism’ led by Mufu Onifade received consecutive sponsorship for two years within this period to the tune of N750,000 each. Other individual artists like K.K. Karunwi received N250,000 while others such as Mr. Nduwhite Ahanonu were granted funding to assist their various shows. This sponsorship drive yielded a very busy period for the sub-sector as artists in various states of the federation felt confident to practice professionally.
(iii) Grant to the Society of Nigeria Artist: Under the then leadership of Mr. Kolade Oshinowo as the National President, the umbrella body of visual artists, Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) received annual allocation to help its administration. These allocations were from the meagre budget of the NGA. The annual sponsorship grant extended to the SNA totalled N5 million consecutively for two years — 2007 and 2008, according to the arts writer, Onifade in a report last year. There was also a third allocation for the year 2009 which was reportedly released to the body. In same vein, the Gallery was proposing among others to pursue the inclusion of the SNA as a sub-head for direct annual budgetary allocation.
|Former D-G of National Gallery of Art (NGA) and painter, Joe Musa|
Sponsorship of individual artists to international events:
(i) National award winning artists from Benue State, Levi Yakubu, a ceramist from the Dajo Pottery group based in Makurdi was fully sponsored by the NGA to represent Nigeria in China, where he bagged the first prize for two years consecutively.
(ii) The writer of this article, Kunle Adeyemi, equally benefitted from the sponsorship of the Gallery to participate in an art workshop cum residency in Uttersberg, Sweden. This sponsorship was worth $3,000.
(iii) 16 members of the Society of Nigerian artists, (SNA), participated in the famous Dak’Art Biennale in Senegal, including President of the body, Mr. Kolade Oshinowo, President of Art Galleries Association of Nigeria (AGAN), Chief Frank Okonta, President of Art History Association of Nigeria (AHAN), Prof. Ola Oloidi, and 10 members of the Arts Writers Organization of Nigeria, AWON. The cost of the trip to the NGA was put at approximately N50 million.
International galleries and museums visits
(i) Foreign missions: The NGA under Musa opened up avenues for leadership training for members of its staff; including participating in the United States’ International Visitors Programme facilitated by the US Embassy; another was through the collaboration of the French Embassy. These programmes were meant to expose the participants/beneficiaries to best practices in art administration in other countries.
(ii) Sotheby’s Institute of Art: The invitation extended to Sotheby’s Institute of Art — internationally acclaimed Art auctioneers — to come to Nigeria to organise short duration workshops was designed to expose government and local private gallery operators to modern auctioning techniques, methods and technology. Through this, stakeholders would learn current trends in art documentation and valuation techniques.
SNA Board appointment
The National Gallery of Art under Musa was able to place a member of the Society of Nigeria Artists, SNA on its governing board. The aim was to achieve political integration for the umbrella body of artists, to enable the voice of the artist registered in boardroom policy formulating circuit. This meant that the current SNA President would represent the national body of artists and report back to the sub-sectors stakeholders.
Other Art Promotions within the Scope of this study
In 2007 these Exhibitions were successfully curated:
· Gani Odutokun Retrospective; Best Ochigbo recent works; Zaria Art School’s 50th anniversary exhibition, etc.
· Nigeria’s participation at the Berlin International Tourism Art Fair in March 2007.
· Selection of Nigerian Arts at the Art Forum Berlin, in September, 2007
· Exhibition of selected Nigerian works at International Art Fair, Atlanta, USA, in August 2007
· The NGA successfully brokered partnerships with institutions in the public and private sectors as a way of endearing visibility for the visual art sub-sector.
· In 2006, it developed collaboration with Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation, BOF, Spanish Embassy and NGA in an International Open Seminar on the works of Aina Onabolu and Pablo Picasso.
· It submitted sponsorship request proposals to the Federal Government to consider giving National Honours Awards to deserving Nigerian visual artists.
· It initiated the Visual Artists Sponsorship Fund (VASF).
· It conceived and developed the world traveling exhibition of selected Nigerian works under the theme: “Nigeria Visual Arts World Tour: NIVATOUR” in 2009.
The State of NGA between 2006 – 2009
IT is clear that the visual art subsector recorded its most progressive era in the period 2006-2009 when Joe Musa was on the driving seat as the Director General at the NGA.
Consequent upon the various measures initiated and programmes implemented at the time, the following tangible and intangible accomplishments were recorded:
(i) Visual Artists are now successfully being accepted and employed in government (governance) establishments.
(ii) The Tertiary market of the profession which is Art auction is now a common feature as two known auction houses have taken permanent root in the country i.e. Arthouse Contemporary Limited and Terra Kulture, both headquartered in Lagos.
(iii) The regularity of workshops and seminars reflects an acceptance that is now a dynamic feature of the sub-sector.
(iv) The emergence of dedicated publications and academic materials for the sub-sector is more pronounced than ever and more are still expected.
(v) Art appreciation increased greatly therefore raising the bar for both the value for art collectors and economic independence for artists.
(vi) Art valuation continues to enjoy a considerable steady climb.
Conspiracies and Strangulation
DURING this era of monumental development (2006-2009), some staff, ex-staff of the Gallery, who were affected by changes in postings, rationalisation and other administrative strategies were not particularly pleased with the successes being achieved and were desirous of gaining control of the parastatal for their selfish reasons; thus they ganged up to fabricate unfounded lies, rumours through frivolous petitions to EFCC and the parent ministry. This eventually led to the crisis that led to Chief Joe Musa’s suspension from office alongside Mr. Olusegun Ogunba, Dr. Kweku Tandoh and Mrs Oparagu Elizabeth — all accused of criminal conspiracy, criminal misappropriation, falsification of accounts and disobedience to lawful direction as public offers — based on the petition submitted to the EFCC by the disgruntled staff.
Joe Musa and three others were eventually arraigned before the High Court in Abuja on August 30, 2009 in a case of financial embezzlement to the tune of N1.2billion.
The charges were however a smokescreen for the staff to achieve a their hideous intention. Joe Musa’s ‘secret sin’ to these detractors are: that he was trying to professionalize the parastatal based on the memo he had earlier written to the parent ministry titled “A case for a supplementary provision of the National Gallery of Art (amendment) Act 2004 to include that a Director General of the National Gallery shall be a contemporary visual artist.”
This memo was interpreted as an attempt to block the non-professionals from being appointed into the top leadership of the Gallery. The successes recorded in Joe Musa’s three short but memorable years as the Director General of NGA show the importance of putting a square peg in a square hole different what had obtained. The visual arts had suffered years of stagnation because of the activities of non-professional artists serving at its higher level of authorities. However, Je Musa’s administration showed that the sub-sector had all along been held to ransom by civil servants at the federal, state and local government levels, who have no dream or plan for its progress. This practice needs to stop now.
Trials in the Court of Law
Joe Musa’s trial went through the rigours of several investigations by the EFCC and the court. The trial started in 2009 and was brought to a conclusive end on December 6, 2011 when the trial judge, Hon. Justice O.A. Adeniyi threw it out for lack of merit and substance. The judge admonished the EFCC and its frivolous petitioners for having wasted the court’s time. He ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against the accused persons with respect to the alleged offence of conspiracy both to commit criminal misappropriation and falsification of the accounts of the National Gallery of Art. Based on this, they were discharged of those counts.
Secondly, the charge of dishonest conversion of the sums of N670,000,000 and N150,000,000 was cleared by the presiding judge who after a thorough examination of the witnesses against the accused persons discovered that the prosecution failed to prove misappropriation of public funds while in office. Based on this, the accused were discharged of the charges against them. Other charges of dishonest or misappropriation of funds against the accused persons were dismissed by the judge who viewed everything as a “facade, a waste of time and injustice to the accused persons”.
Finally, the judge after several sessions of trials of the accused persons came to a conclusion, thus; ‘I can best describe the totality of the story put together by the nine prosecution witnesses as mere gossips and idle talk, which are only peddled at beer parlours and street corners. I do not expect any reasonable tribunal to dissipate precious time and energy in proceeding further with this case, if the quality of the evidence on record is anything to go by to allow these proceedings to continue, having regard to the totality of the evidence laid bare on the record by the prosecution is to inflict undue hardship and injustice on the accused persons. They ought not to have stood this trial in the first: considering the shoddy prosecution undertaken by the complainant, this court would not have hesitated in awarding heavy costs and damages in their favour, nevertheless, I believe they will be assuaged by a discharge which amounts to an acquittal.
“In the final analysis and for the avoidance of doubts, my firm decision on the basis of the provisions of section 159(1) and section 191(3) of the C.P.C, is that the evidence adduced by the prosecution record is not sufficient to justify the continuation of this trial. In other words, the prosecution has failed to make out a prima facie case against any of the accused persons, in that they have failed to tender required minimum evidence to establish the essential elements of all the counts of offense that they have been charged with respectively. For this reason, I hereby preclude all of them from entering upon their defence and accordingly, I hereby discharge each and every one of the accursed persons of the entirety of the charge preferred against them.’
SINCE the criminal charge against Joe Musa and the three others has now been brought to an end by the Ruling of Hon. Justice O.A. Adeniyi discharging them in a “No Case Submission”, we the stakeholders in the visual arts subsector believe that:
• justice demands that Joe Musa, the suspended Director General and others be reinstated to finish up the good work they started at the National Gallery of Art.
• the President through the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture should ensure that justice is done and the injustice of the last two years be redressed;
• the President use his good office to redress the ignoble trend where competent government agency heads are maligned and the reputation they had built over the years are tainted and destroyed in a bid to install protégées of scheming politicians and corrupt senior government officials.
• the pioneering African Regional Summit and Exhibition in the Visual Arts (ARESUVA project) adopted by the African Union be rescued immediately from the lack of vision and capacity of the current management; the initiator of the idea Joe Musa should be invited to carry the project to the next level.
• Joe Musa be granted the opportunity to serve in the position of Director General of NGA for a statutory five-year tenure renewal to consolidate Nigeria’s gains through his innovation and contribution to the place of Arts in Africa’s development.
• all headship positions of parastatals in the Tourism, Art and Culture ministry be given to true and tested professionals, who will be able to impact their competence while in the service of our dear country. With this, there will be vibrancy, innovativeness, creativity and professionalism on the operation of the agencies under the ministry. The highly rewarding three-year stay of Mr Musa at the headship of the National Gallery by Joe Musa is a justification for this — the records are there for everyone to see unlike the present stagnant situation that we have found ourselves.
In conclusion, the development of any society is predicated on the commitment of its leadership. The success and failure of any organisation is rooted in its headship, let us give democracy free reign in the governance of the National Gallery of Art, and indeed the entire culture sector.
• Adeyemi, artist, art scholar lectures art at the Yaba College of Technology, School of Art, Design and Printing, Yaba Lagos.
Summary of comparison between pre 2006, and post 2006
PRIOR to the emergence of Joe Musa in the administration of the Gallery, the programmes of the parastatals in its 12 years existence could be streamlined under five headlines (i) Art Residence; (ii) Saturday Art Club; (iii) Children’s Day; (iv) Train the Trainers programme for Art Teachers (K 12); (v) Distinguished Annual lecture. This created a sort of stagnancy and unequivocally led to estrangement of a large section of the artists’ community from the NGA. However, the tide changed completely soon as Joe Musa stepped in to the mantle of leadership of the subsector in August 2006. Over 12 meaningful programmes that helped to move the hitherto downward slide in visual arts were initiated in only three years:
Among the programmes initiated post-2006 are: (i) ARESUVA; (ii) Art Expo; (iii) Nigerian Visual Arts World Tour (NIVATOUR); (v) National Visual Art Competition; (v) Art Endowments’ in Tertiary Institutions; (vi) Exhibition partnerships with foreign missions; (vii) NGA Educational sponsorship; (viii) Release of Grants to Art bodies; (ix) Sponsorship of individual artists to international events; (x) International Museums and Galleries visits; (xi) SNA upgraded as a member of the NGA board; (xii) Annual Stakeholders Conference