By Simeon Mpamugoh
Lori Tosan is the Chief Promoter, Chaperon, which has been involved in the promotion of the performance arts for ten years. “We started as arts promotion and curating company with performers like Weird Mc, the Ijoya act. We later went on to personal management of Late Christy Essien Igbokwe who was a legend of the art; actress, poet and a musician. We were part managers of Durella before we moved to Abuja for something unique for Abuja arts lovers,” he said in a chat with Daily Sun at Dabrass Hotel, Wuse 2, Abuja.
He disclosed that Chaperon has organised a lot of laudable concerts for World Economic Forum, and the Nigeria Centenary, adding, “to us, art is not just about the monetary gains rather what value we are bringing to it; do we leave a foot print or just take the money and walk away,?” he asked rhetorically, noting that most of the time, the organisation don’t make money from shows, “We just keep doing what we have passion for.”
Assessing the art scene in Abuja, Tosan said, “I think Abuja art scene particularly nightlife is bigger than Lagos in the sense that the only reason Lagos nightlife trends is because there is availability of streetlight. But, in terms of activities and safety, Abuja art scene, in two to three years, will be the biggest.
“In Abuja, we have events week in and out every month, unlike previous years when we didn’t have a benign environment for shows due to insecurity, but today, it is so convenient one can leave house 1-3 am to a spot without fear of getting robbed and, still, well appreciated. So, for me, Abuja is going to hit not only Nigeria in performance arts but Africa, and it is on this premise we have decided to stay in Abuja because there is a bigger market.”
When reminded there was a recession in the country, which has affected the promotion of the art, he debunked it but preferred to call it a restrictive spending. Hear him, “We still have wealthy Nigerians who believe they are not going anywhere. If one takes a walk to the market, one would find that Nigerians are still shopping.
“A trip to our airports shows that our people are still travelling. In December, they said there was no money, but our live shows were fully booked. This is an indication that there is money. The situation is the same in Lagos. If one goes to nightclubs and theatre, it is always filled with guests. So, I don’t think, money affects the arts because when there is depression, arts and entertainment hold the way out.”
He commended the private operators and nightclub owners for driving the sub sector of the tourism industry in Abuja, noting that government’s involvement could only be described as baby step in the sense that it tried to pump in money rather than developing ideologies, “while others think it is a scheme you put in big money and come out smiling to the bank without considering audiences who are the beneficiaries of arts.”
According to him, “Government should research more on the industry to find out what people really want and put them in place for the growth of the industry, not organising carnivals people wouldn’t attend. We need to create tourists centers, yet there is still one fear: would people come out to be kidnapped? We have not taken care of the social aspect and until we do that, arts will not move forward again, because government involvement still remains a money sharing scheme.”
He contended that private sectors should do more on signage and information so as to tap into the art sector through reminders to festivities in the country citing the book, Prince, by Niccolò Machiavelli, who finds out that the Prince keeps his subjects at bay by constantly doing ceremonies.
“I think government should invest more on the ceremonial days. Lagos State, last year, had ceremonies in multiple synchronies. It is what I expect from the government. The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism should invest on those ceremonial days like Valentine concerts in Wuse, Karu, and Nyannya all synchronised, so, that the sector can tap into it rather than dishing out money for Abuja carnival no one attends,” Tosan said.
The organisers of the regular “Laugh Out Loud” (LOL) concert revealed that they found out that, with the current economic recession in the country, where everybody was grumbling, prices of goods and services increasing and nobody was smiling; beyond financial and economic despair, the only thing that can pay us was laughter.
“When one laughs, it adds extra days and life to one’s years. And laughter is the perfect solution to every hopelessness and exasperation,” he said, even as he urged everyone who has crisis to take time out to laugh, because “it is number one”.