National theatre: 25 years after, AMAA revs up main bowl

From The Guardian
It Will Boost Tourism Potentials Of Lagos, Says Ambode It’s A Perfect Homecoming For AMAA –– Peace Anyiam-Osigwe
For 25 years now, the Main Bowl of the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, has been under lock and key. In fact, the 5000 seater auditorium, which played host to the world during FESTAC 77, has been totally abandoned. But if things work as planned, then light might just be returning to the once vibrant theatre and pride of Nigeria’s creative industry.
Two days ago, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode revealed that his administration has concluded plans to begin a total revamping of the National Arts Theatre by next month in time for the 2017 Africa Movies Academic Awards (AMAA) ceremony holding in the State later in the year. Ambode, who spoke when he played host to officials of AMAA, led by its President, Mrs. Peace Anyiam-Osigwe at the Lagos House, Ikeja, expressed optimism that the plan to upgrade the Theatre to world class standard would serve as a viable venue for the AMAA event when completed.
“I want to also say that I am very particular about the venue of the AMAA, so we would use everything possible to make sure that the National Arts Theatre is ready. We are in a process and before the month ends, we should have something to start doing within the first week of April to getting the whole place ready,” he said.
Alluding to the fact that Lagos would turn 50 by May 27, the Governor said that the hosting of the AMAA event in Lagos would add more glamour to the celebration of the State’s Golden Jubilee and showcase its hospitality to the continent and the world at large.
“This is a very historic moment for us in Lagos; we are celebrating the existence of Lagos for 50 years. If you look at the calendar, you would wonder in what ways and manner can we celebrate Lagos?
“Without your sector, there is no Lagos. So, when we say 50 years, we are talking about 50 years of history, so somebody documents it, somebody dramatises it, and then somebody keeps it, so that those who are yet unborn would see it, so even when we are not there, it would be displayed through your creative talents,” he said.
While officially accepting the hosting rights for AMAA 2017, Governor Ambode said the State would take advantage of the opportunity to boost its tourism mileage beyond Lagos @ 50.
“The whole essence is to grow the GDP of Lagos; it would bring people into Lagos, they would stay in our hotels, they would come watch the movies and then they would pay their taxes and eventually it’s a conglomerate of goods and services that would escalate our GDP,” the Governor said.
Earlier, President of AMAA, Mrs. Peace Anyiam-Osigwe commended the Governor for his interest in the creative industry, saying that it has given the sector a major boost in recent time.
“It’s amazing to have a Governor who is like a family that seems to understand what our needs are. We’ve never had a Governor of Lagos State who has shown so much deep interest in Nollywood,” she said
She said the 2017 AMAA ceremony, the 13th in the series, would feature films from 72 countries with over 23,000 guests from across the African continent vying for various awards.
On the idea of using the Main Bowl of the National Art Theatre for AMAA, Anyiam-Osigwe said, “for 25 years, this place be locked up; there’s a lot of wastage in the country. This is one place that was originally constructed to host theatre events. On the day Governor Ambode went on tour of the facility, I was there as well to see the state of the Main Bowl. I remember the first thing Ambode said was, ‘it’s not as bad as they told me.’ So, for me, if we succeed in hosting AMAA there, it will bring to and end the ear of waste,” she said.
Meanwhile, the AMAA production team is already working on a special concept that will fuse the traditional red carpet with the celebration of Nigeria’s creative industry.
“We are working on a red carpet that will also have works of renowned Nigerian artists, writers and others on the runway. Today, everybody uses Eko Hotel for events, but let’s not forget that this theater was purposely build for performances. In fact, the location makes it easy for people to access, no matter the part of the city you are coming from. This is a place for us to celebrate the Nigerian creative industry. So, for me, it’s a dream and I pray it materialises.
“I’m confident because, I know the people working on the project. I will do everything possible to ensure that we host AMAA there; that will be a perfect homecoming for AMAA,” she said.

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