Top Local Government functionaries have been called upon to transform various community festivals in their domains, saying such initiatives, which will change most of the ritual backgrounds in them for entertainment purposes in order to boost tourism, will enhance economic development in Nigeria.
ABC Toni Duruaku, a professor of Theatre Arts in Imo State University, Owerri, who made this call in a paper he delivered at the National Workshop on Culture in the Transformation Agenda, organized for top Local Government functionaries, by National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), in collaboration with Leading Edge Academy, Abuja, said this was necessary because festivals, which every nation needs to harness, are important drivers of cultural development.
Delivering the paper, titled, “Transforming Community Festivals for Economic Development: An Exploratory Perspectives,” Professor Duruaku stressed that a festival is an effective platform for nurturing skills and social capital, which will attract visitors and enhance the image of a community for both local citizens and the outside world.
He said: “It is also a catalyst for reflection and imagining alternative features for both individuals and communities. It is a source of creativity and innovation. It is a way of developing audiences for different forms of cultural activity. It is a process for generating revenue. It is a place for identifying and installing economic development.”
Continuing, Duruaku, who was a former Executive Director, Imo State Council for Arts and Culture, highlighted the economic benefits of festivals to a community, thus: “It is very important that the local Government Chairmen should understand the usefulness and the gains of these community festivals. There are many economic benefits to be derived from them, among which are, direct spending by tourists and associated economic multiplier effects, a ripple effect on economic growth, employment, and destination popularity, and so on. To make sure that all these are achieved, in order that festivals make maximum economic impact, there must be business plan and proper programming for festivals; there must be formulation of events protocol for festivals; there must periodic review of services being registered by the festivals; there must be evaluation of the importance and impact the festivals are making; there must be adequate publicity for the festivals; and adequate security must be provided in the festivals.”
He stated further that with all the above, apart from a festival bringing robustness to the economy, it will build harmony in the communities, provide a source for entertainment, showcase the heritage, build friendship in addition to new relationships, create partnerships, create jobs, bring about personal benefits, including education, improved leadership, local accountability, and increased investment of profits back into the community.
The workshop, with its theme, “Culture and the Socio-Economic Transformation of Local Governments in Nigeria: Setting an Agenda for Development,’’ which was declared open by the Honourable Minister for Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, High Chief Edem Duke, took place at Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Central Business District, Abuja.