Culture activists and tourists can now breathe a sigh of relief as Lagos State Government last week released a calendar for over 70 state-sponsored and endorsed arts and culture programmes for the year.
This move according to stakeholders further shows Lagos State government commitment to the promotion of arts and culture as well as tourism.
In a release signed by the State’s Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, the calendar is designed to frontload public and privately-driven arts, culture and entertainment events that will have positive impact on tourism and the image of Lagos as an arts-friendly state.
“This initiative is in fulfillment of the state government’s promise to announce a yearly calendar of events to guide programming, tourists and visitors’ decisions,” he stated.
According to Ayorinde, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, started the year with his attendance at Ali Baba’s January 1 comedy concert at The Eko Hotel and Suites. Other arts and culture events held in January and February so far and included in the calendar are Angel and Muse, an art exhibition by a Lagos-trained world renowned artist; Eebi, a month-long Indigenous Cultural Festival in Epe; Wazobia FM Carnival as well as the Lagos City Marathon, among others.
Ayorinde noted that the idea of creating a calendar of events for state-sponsored and state-endorsed programmes was to make event planning, tour bookings and business decisions easier for tour operators and the general public.
“The calendar is part of the state’s innovative intervention to project arts, entertainment and leisure benefits inherent in Lagos, which makes the state attractive to domestic tourists, business travellers and stop-over passers-by. The state is forging ahead in expanding the consumption of its tourism products by improving access to tourism information and creating an events guide for the media and tour bloggers,” he said.
Although not exhaustive, the calendar contains most of the well-known indigenous cultural festivals across the state, entertainment events, concerts, visual and performing arts, as well as fashion and culinary events.
Lagos State is expected to leverage its infrastructural development, regeneration and creation of iconic monuments and attractions for entertainment, arts and culture enthusiasts to boost economic activities and expand opportunities for job creation during the various events slated on the calendar.
“The administration of Governor Ambode believes that the quantum of cash transactions across the tourism and entertainment value-chain, as tracked in December 2017 when about N50bn was spent on entertainment and leisure alone, is a testimony to the huge economic gain that exists in promoting tourism in Lagos State. This and other economic factors make Lagos one of the most vibrant and culturally significant cities in Africa with the potential to make enormous impact in driving in-bound tourists from across the globe,” Ayorinde said.
Major events listed in the calendar include Gidi Fest, Lagos Water Regatta and Fanti Carnival around the Easter Period; the International Jazz Day celebration on April 30, which will be dedicated to the South-African Jazz legend, Huge Masekela; the Lagos Comedy Festival (incorporating Lagos Laughs on World Laughter Day) on May 6 and the Eko Art Expo in the last weekend in May.
June will be rich with the first ever Lagos Golf Funfair and the Lagos Cinefest, designed to take cinema-going experience to all the five divisions of the state.
The Lagos Festival of Plays is a major highlight in the third quarter of the year; so is the Lagos Fishing Festival (Oshoroko) in Ibeju-Lekki; Akwaaba Travel Market and Faaji Agba — a special concert for the elderly to mark World Elders Day.
October to December will be the most intense period on the calendar with Olokun Festival; the MUSON Festival; AFRIMA, AFRIFF; Kayo-Kayo Festival in Epe; the Lagos Luxury Summit/Fair; Felabration which will be used to celebrate Deal’s 80th birthday posthumously; the Lagos Books & Arts Festival, which will be used to welcome Lagos into Africa’s Creative Cities club, as well as the phenomenally popular One Lagos Fiesta which holds from December 24 to 31 across the five divisions of the state.
The Commissioner said: “The state is grateful to corporate sponsors that will make many of these events happen. Our aim is to use the calendar and other strategic initiatives to enrich the entertainment and creative economy, as an integral component of tourism promotion from January to December.”