The permanent site of the National Council for Arts and Culture at Wuse Zone 4, Abuja is currently undergoing a massive renovation that at the end of the day will culminate in the emergence of a world-class Cultural Market. This is the gospel straight from the horse’s mouth: the commission’s Director-General, Otunba Segun Runsewe. The news couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment as it nipped in the bud a raft of mendacious claims flying about in some quarters that the commission has divested itself of the sprawling property and had sold it off to investors.
Runsewe confirms to TIMEOUT that the market, which has been under lock and key for some time, is undergoing intense rehabilitation, and, good enough, the Cultural Market will be ready for good business soon.
So, what is the shape of things to come? He rolled out a set of innovations that will radically revamp the moribund craft village––a functional Information Centre at the entrance of the market; a full-fledged bank with three ATM machines; a pharmacy; mini-children park, restaurants, amphitheatre and a skill acquisition centre are among a covey of facilities on the way.
The blueprint divulged by the NCAC boss shows a Cultural Market with several sections, majorly a car park area, Investment Forum section and the main market, which boasts of no less than 165 shops that in practical term translate to at least a thousand jobs for Nigerians. The initiative is an echo of highly successful enterprises of similar nature that are rampant in Far East cities––notably Hong Kong, Bangkok and Taipei––with thriving art and crafts scenes.
Runsewe further hints of a provision for a night market every last Friday of the month. This has a ring of the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market, a Bangkok evening night market that opens on Friday evening where high-priced artwork and antiques, trinkets and local designers and everything in-between pulls a throng of tourists in the city.
A fully cultural market anchored purely on handicrafts and culture-related items, that is the plan according to Runsewe, President of World Craft Council, Africa Region, who avowed further that the general objective is to retain the cultural aesthetics of the market while fully exploring the economic potentials to empower Nigerians.
In the past two years, the NCAC has taken giant strides that broadened the country’s art and culture horizon. A new-fangled National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) and a rebranded, reinvigorated International Arts and Craft (INAC) Expo are two far-reaching achievements. The addition of a Cultural Market––certain to imbue the sector with a positive vibe––further adds grit and gravitas to the Nigerian art scene.