The first phase of the Central Bank of Nigeria-led rehabilitation of the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, has been completed and is set to host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and Federal Government of Nigeria conference on “Linking tourism, culture, and the creative industries: Pathways to recovery and inclusive development,” between November 14 and 16, 2022.
This was disclosed in Lagos on Friday, November 11, 2022, by the Director, Corporate Communications Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Osita Nwanisobi, who recalled that 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, working closely with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture (FMIC), the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, and the Lagos State Government.
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 form part of the original design, with each needing to be protected during renovation or, in some cases, removed and restored before being replaced.
According to him, “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.
Nwanisobi said, the project 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 will be at the heart of a more significant development of hubs focused on supporting emerging talent in the music, film, fashion, and IT sectors,” he added.
The creative hubs are built on portions of land within the 44Ha site. The first phase, 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 will house commercial and retail facilities, administration and management offices.
Also commenting on the completion of phase 1, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele said: “The National Theatre is one of the symbols of Nigeria’s culture and heritage and 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.
“The Central Bank has been able to bring together the diverse set of stakeholders required to ensure that this 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.