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National Arts Theatre: Home of entertainment

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By Abraham Adekunle

The iconic structure was completed in preparation for FESTAC ’77.

The National Arts Theatre is the primary center for the performing arts in Nigeria. The iconic monument is located in Iganmu, Surulere, Lagos State. Its construction was completed in 1976 during the administration of the then head of state, Olusegun Obasanjo, in preparation for the Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) which was held in 1977. The National Theatre can be described as Nigeria’s home of entertainment whose management is committed to achieving its objectives with regard to the presentation, preservation, and promotion of arts and culture in Nigeria.

Since its establishment, the National Theatre has served as a major events venue, relaxation center, and tourist spot for both Nigerians and foreigners. The halls of the theater have served as important venues for historic events, meetings and gatherings. The cinema halls have also been used to present some interesting and breathtaking dramas. The National Theatre offers diverse facilities and innovations which have been integrated into the basic structures so that the halls can be easily transformed to serve required purposes.

The theater’s exterior is built to look like a military hat.

The military government of Yakubu Gowon started the construction of the National Theatre, while the military regime of Olusegun Obasanjo completed it. The theater’s exterior was designed, shaped, and built to look like a military hat. Its Main Hall originally has a 5000-seat capacity with a collapsible stage. It has additional two capacity cinema halls, both of which are equipped with facilities for simultaneous translation of eight languages. The magnificent edifice has had a number of management team heads, including Jimmy Folorunso Atte (1991 to August 1999), Prof. Babafemi Osofisan (2000 to 2004), Dr Ahmed Parker Yerima (2006 to August 2009), Kabir Yusuf (2009 to 2016), and more.

The National Arts Theatre was designed and constructed by the Bulgarian construction company, Techno Exporstroy. The theatre resembles the Palace of Culture and Sports in Varna, Bulgaria, which was completed in 1968. However, Nigeria’s monument is the bigger of the two. The National Theatre has appeared in various media – music videos and films. For instance, filming for the “Keys to the Kingdom” video in Beyonce’s visual album, Black is King, took place at the theater. Also, Burna Boy performed some tracks in his Grammy Award-winning album, Twice as Tall, in front of and inside the building, during the Premiere ceremony of the 63rd Grammy Awards.

The National Theatre held some events of FESTAC ’77.

The National Theatre, Lagos was constructed in preparation for FESTAC which was held in Lagos in 1977. The festival is known as the Second World Festival of Black Arts, or Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture. The first was the First World Festival of Black Arts, or World Festival of Negro Arts. It was held in Dakar, Senegal in 1966. The festivals were planned as Pan-African celebrations, and ranged in content from debate to performance, particularly dance and theater.

FESTAC ’77 was held in Lagos, Nigeria from January 15 to February 12, 1977. The National Theatre hosted some of the events, which showcased to the world African music, fine art, literature, drama, dance, and religion. Artists who performed at the event, some at the National Theatre, included Stevie Wonder from the United States, Gilberto Gil from Brazil, Bembeya Jazz National from Guinea, Mighty Sparrow from Trinidad and Tobago, Les Ballets Africans, South African Miriam Makeba, and Franco Luambo Makiadi. At the time the event was held, it was the largest pan-African gathering to be held. This definitely made the National Arts Theatre more popular, such that the theater cannot be mentioned without reference to FESTAC ’77.

Sold to the highest bidder amidst national outrage.

President Olusegun Obasanjo announced plans in 2005 to privatize the National Theatre. This sparked national outrage from Nigerian entertainers and literary icons. One of them is Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate. He said, “You can liken this to a horrendous fate suffered by the black race, pauperized and victimized by public office holders who transform power into an instrument of repression and oppression. Privatization of the theatre can go haywire and I’m totally against it.” On December 30, 2014, the Federal Government announced that the National Theatre has been sold to a Dubai-based conglomerate for a sum of $40 million.


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jdpumping
jdpumping
1 year ago

This is where I had all my child hood experience of watching films and staged plays but now it has been abandoned what’s suppose to be a National moment for Nigeria, imagine selling our national treasure.

Adeolastan
Adeolastan
1 year ago

Most of the government properties privatised by the government has not been doing well and which is not suppose to be because the main aim of privatisation is to perform ultimately after privatisation.National theatre has not be doing fine since privatisation and this has lot of disadvantage on Nigeria citizens.

Ultra0711
Ultra0711
1 year ago

This is an old building that holds a lot of historical moment. Government should continue keeping tab on this historical things and develop it more with modern technology.

Haykaylyon26
Haykaylyon26
1 year ago

This is a old building that hold history moment about stage play and movies it should be kept in good condition because is hold history

Tonerol10
Tonerol10
1 year ago

Old building with a lot of history Acting on stage, cultural values and many more. We need to improve them for better use

Iyanu12345ogg
Iyanu12345ogg
1 year ago

“Federal Government announced that the National Theatre has been sold to a Dubai-based conglomerate for a sum of $40 million.” We sold one of the country’s treasure again….I’m tired!

theApr
theApr
1 year ago

With all the historic records of the theater, it is supposed to be a national treasure. So why sell your asset? This was even 2014, things have not gotten this worse. It’s sad

Remi1
Remi1
1 year ago

In honor of the monuments, it shouldn’t have been sold. It’s a national treasure

Christiana
Christiana
1 year ago

The management of Nigeria’s National Theatre is dedicated to the theater’s goals of presenting, preserving, and promoting Nigerian arts and culture.

Tolaniiii
Tolaniiii
1 year ago

The festivals were intended to be celebrations of African culture as a whole, and their programming included everything from intellectual discussion to dance and theater performances.

Bola12
Bola12
1 year ago

The movie theaters have also been utilized to stage a number of dramas that are both fascinating and breathtaking.

Adesanyaj72
Adesanyaj72
1 year ago

The military regimes of Yakubu Gowon and Olusegun Obasanjo both contributed to Nigeria’s development by starting and finishing the National Theatre.

Bola12
Bola12
1 year ago

.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bola12
Kazeem1
Kazeem1
1 year ago

The management of the National Theatre is dedicated to attaining its goals of presenting, preserving, and promoting arts and culture in Nigeria. The National Theatre is sometimes referred to as the “home of entertainment” in Nigeria.

Hassan Isa
Hassan Isa
1 year ago

Since it was first built, the National Theatre has been utilized by both Nigerians and visitors from other countries as a significant events site, a center for relaxation, and a tourist destination.

Godsewill Ifeanyi
Godsewill Ifeanyi
1 year ago

The theaters within the complex have also been utilized to stage a number of captivating and breath-taking dramas, making this location exceptionally impressive.

Taiwoo
Taiwoo
1 year ago

The National Theatre is home to a wide variety of amenities and innovations, many of which have been included into the building’s fundamental architecture to make it possible for the halls to be easily reconfigured to fulfill a variety of functions.

Chibuzor
Chibuzor
1 year ago

The National Theatre’s exterior was designed, sculpted, and built to resemble a military cap because its construction was begun under the military dictatorship of Yakubu Gowon and completed under the military regime of Olusegun Obasanjo.

Nwachukwu Kingsley
Nwachukwu Kingsley
1 year ago

the largest pan-African assembly ever conducted, and the popularity of the National Arts Theatre increased significantly as a direct result of this event.

DimOla
DimOla
1 year ago

It is most unfortunate that this monumental structure that attracted world attention was sold to the highest bidder. What should have been treasured and preserved. FESTAC 77 is the beginning of Nigeria nightmare.

SarahDiv
SarahDiv
1 year ago

An historical edifices formerly treasured by our government, a place of art and cultural exhibition has become something of no value which was sold to a foreigner. What a life