• Friday, May 24, 2024
businessday logo


Show-business, reward season and the Nigerian prototype


From this Saturday, the performing arts begin a momentous journey into the season of award ceremonies. The audience as well as industry professionals in the music and movies business will reap from this long season that mixes glamour with economics to deliver a unique blend that the world adores as show-business.

But the biggest gainer is the Nigerian economy, which now counts the Motion Picture, Sound Recording and Music Production among the productive pillars of the economy in a year the country assumes its rightful position as Africa’s biggest economy. Like telecommunications, the entertainment industry is now one of the 13 new core activities included in computation framework upon which performance of the economy is based.

Figures from the Ministry of Finance show that this industry is now worth about N9trn and is believed to have contributed about N1.72trn to the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2013 alone. And so when the stars start to walk the red carpets with pump and ceremony, and raising their plaques with predictable platitudes, from Port Harcourt to Calabar and Lagos, it must be apparent that the show is finally connecting with the business aspect of it. The demonstrable evidence of the current good times is the sheer number of award ceremonies, which in fact are reward platforms for outstanding achievements, now competing to service the burgeoning entertainment industry with support from corporate and public sectors.

Best of Nollywood (BON) awards will flag off the season on Saturday, October 11 in Port Harcourt. Haven jettisoned its humble beginnings for the bosom of arts-loving governors; it has grown in six years to a native delicacy that is warming its way into the national menu. On its heels comes the Nollywood Movies Awards (NMA) on Saturday, October 18 in Lagos. It’s a project of London-based Nigerian media entrepreneurs determined to make as much impact in award ceremonies as they have done in subscription-based television in the UK. In its third year, NMA is concretizing the impact that Nollywood has made in the African Diaspora.

Music is not lost in the loop. The Headies (formerly Hip-Hop World Awards) is the October bride for popular music lovers, holding on the 25th at the Landmark in Lagos, the same venue where a new entrant, the All African Music Awards (AFRIMA) will also berth on Sunday November 9 with an ambitious offering to bring the whole of Africa down to Lagos in a musical collage.

Attention will shift thereafter to Calabar, where the African International Film festival (AFRIF) returns for a whole week of film screenings, celebrity parties and award presentations.  Somewhere in the mix is an attempt by the Nigerian OSCAR Selection Committee to choose the Nigerian movie that will compete for nomination in the Best Film in Foreign Language category at the Academy Awards holding next February in Los Angeles, USA.

Like AFRIMA, the attempt to pave way for Nollywood’s representation at the OSCARS is a new initiative in the entertainment industry that is not just a pride to the nation but a lucrative business that is well captured within the GDP radar. The entrance of such initiatives with the resilience of industry majors like the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), the Abuja International Film Festival and Headies Awards only signpost one thing – the listing of the entertainment industry as one of the pillars captured in the rebasing of the Nigerian economy is not a fluke.

The sheer volume of production activities, the industry’s limitless capacity to create new jobs and its elastic business model that can accommodate hundreds of movies at shoe-shine budgets of barely N1m on the one hand and on the other, mega budget movies like Half Of A Yellow Sun at $8m and October 1 at $2m gladly tells the story of a goldmine eager to unravel.

Still, if an Inyanya decides to dole out N50m to earn collaboration on a song with Nikky Minaj from his reported N75m windfall from MTN as first tranche of its revenue from ringtone downloads alone, who says the industry is lacking in cash to announce its arrival into the big league?

But we must acknowledge that the story of the Nigerian entertainment industry is a prototype of the narrative of the Nigerian state itself – huge in size and long in potential but lean in quality and organizational direction. Both are witnessing a leap in their overall fortunes because of large headcount, volume and specific services that appeal to multinationals. Painfully, structure and net worth of individual artistes on the average, like the ordinary Nigerian at N18.000 minimum wage, is low and inhuman.

It must be this sad reflection, this perplexing paradox that must have fired up the talented and outspoken Clarion Chukwura to query the trend of giving out awards without cash in her latest outburst. She in fact calls to question the rationale behind the proliferation of several awards ceremonies that does not seem to add tangible benefit to the recipients and came close to declaring reward platforms a threat to Nollywood if they are not quickly subjugated under the pangs of guilds, the voluntary associations that purport to direct the affairs of her industry.

If she could get a cash prize of $500 some 30 years ago when she won the Best Actress award at the Pan African Film and Television Festival in Ouagadougou, she is probably wondering why her Best Actress Award at AMAA in May came with only a plaque.

But Ms. Chukwurah misses the point by some margin. The cash the industry needs is in the business not at award ceremonies.

While there is ample room for cash and material gifts at award ceremonies, for which most of the reward platforms in entertainment have subscribed to at one point or the other, particularly when they are endowed or sponsored, the fact is that material benefits is not a right nor is it a global standard. It’s an honour from industry platforms that exist mainly because they are a signal to measurable business growth.

Steve Ayorinde