The newly rehabilitated National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos is to host the Nigeria, United Nations World Tourism Organisation conference, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced.
The first phase of the rehabilitation of the arts theatre undertaken jointly by the CBN in conjunction with the Bankers Committee has already be completed, the Director, Corporate Communications Department of the CBN, Osita Nwanisobi, confirmed in a statement on Friday.
Nwanisobi said the conference scheduled for between November 14 and 16, 2022 would be on the theme: “Linking tourism, culture, and the creative industries: Pathways to recovery and inclusive development.”
Nwanisobi said the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee in 2020 collectively agreed to invest over N65 billion to rehabilitate the National Arts Theatre and return it to its former glory.
The CBN spokesperson said the two organizations agreed to work closely with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture (FMIC), the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, and the Lagos State Government to achieve that plan.
“Over the past 18 months, a complex rehabilitation project has rebuilt the heart of the National Theatre. More than 70 historic sculptures, mosaics, resin, brass and wood friezes, and stained-glass artworks forming part of the original design, with each needing to be protected during renovation or, in some cases, removed and restored before being replaced,” Nwanisobi said.
“When the second phase of the rehabilitation works is complete in March 2023, the National Theatre will be restored to its original glory. A 5,000-seater main amphitheatre comparable to anything else in the world will sit at its heart, flanked by two world-class cinema rooms, banquet halls, and a library,” he added.
The project, Nwanisobi said, was not just about restoring a building; but about creating an ecosystem of support for the creative sector as part of what is called the Lagos Creative & Entertainment Centre (LC&EC).
The theatre, he said, would consist of the creative hubs built on portions of land within the 44 hectares site at the heart of a more significant development of hubs focused on supporting emerging talent in the music, film, fashion, and IT sectors.
He said the first phase of the theatre rehabilitation, known as the “Signature Cluster” consists of a building each for Fashion, Music, Film, and IT and support facilities, including a 250-car park block, a police station, a fire station, and a visitors’ Welcome Centre, which would house commercial and retail facilities, administration and management offices.
The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said when Phase 1 of the rehabilitation project is completed, the National Theatre would be restored as one of the symbols of Nigeria’s culture and heritage.
“It must be at the heart of our work to enhance and celebrate the creative industries. The completion of Phase 1 is a demonstration of the outcomes we can achieve when we work together as the public and private sector,” Emefiele said.
“The Central Bank has been able to bring together the diverse set of stakeholders required to ensure the project is delivered, from the Bankers Committee to the Ministries of Information and Culture, and Youth and Sports Development, and the Lagos State Government. We thank Mr. President for his overwhelming support that has made the restoration of this national iconic symbol of arts and culture a reality.
“Together, we are not just restoring the National Theatre to its former glory, but we are establishing the wider foundations on which we can build a truly world-class creative sector, at home,” Emefiele added.