By CrossRiverWatch Admin
The Nigerian minister of information, culture and tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said recently while flagging off the 3rd Carnival Calabar dry run in Calabar the Cross River State capital: “I also want to take this opportunity to appeal to the world to see this street party beyond dancing and beyond the costumes. The festival has become a platform for youths to vent their creativity and a platform to turn Nigeria’s CREATIVE INDUSTRY into a veritable CREATIVE ECONOMY.”
There could be no greater truth than that which has been expressed by the honorable Minister and in this treatise, I will attempt to expound on this in line with the vision of the Cross River State Government under the Senator Ben Ayade’s administration.
Calabar Festival is a 32 day annual event which begins on November 30th with the Tree Lighting Ceremony and ends on December 31st with the fireworks display in Cross River State, Nigeria.
The festival which first began under the Donald Duke Administration in 2004, became bigger and bolder under the Liyel Imoke administration and has further been expanded with introduction of new inputs by the Senator Ben Ayade administration.
Carnival Calabar and Festivals which include music performances from both local, national and international artists, theatre performances, the Carnival Calabar, Fashion shows, Beauty Pageant and Cultural displays attracts thousands of tourists to the state annually .
Calabar festival other than being a tourism event like the minister rightly said is a potpourri of creative activities, creating opportunity for the growth of the creative economy of Cross River State. Before we proceed, let us try to understand what creative economy is.
Creative Economy is defined by the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport as: “Those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property.”
The creative economy – which includes, the film industry, the music industry, the culture industry, visual arts industry, the fashion industry and many others – is not only one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the world economy, it is also a highly trans-formative one in terms of income generation, job creation and export earnings.
From the above it is lucid that Carnival Calabar and Festivals provide an undeniable platform for the development of the creative economy in Cross River State.
From the visual artists who decorate the streets and roundabouts for the season to the fashion experts who create costumes for the carnival; from the music artistes who perform at the festival stage to the actors who perform at the theatre events, the creative capacities of the young and old alike are maximized to create fun, excitement and entertainment.
The creative industry in Cross River State provides a greater portion of the content for the Carnival Calabar and Festivals annually. The growth of the creative economy of Cross River State can thus be anchored on the sustenance of the Carnival Calabar and Festivals over the past 18 years.
Carnival Calabar and Festivals over the years has birth new talents in music, acting, dance, comedy, fashion and created opportunities for known talents to grow and become stars. The unveiling and growth of these creative entrepreneurs is a deliberate job creation strategy in Cross River State even as they contribute to the development of the economy of the state.
In the rebased Nigerian economy, the creative industry is now the second highest earner after oil in the country. It is expected that as the world moves away from oil as a major source of energy, in a few years, creative industry will become the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy.
It is in the light of this that the rapid growth of the creative economy of Cross River State powered by the Carnival Calabar and Festivals is an achievement that must be sustained and expanded.
The creative economy of Cross River State is the next big thing as analysts are already foreseeing the phenomenal explosion of the industry in the next few years to make Cross River State the creative capital of Nigeria.
There is no gainsaying that the creative industry is the highest employer of labor in many countries that have made commitment to its growth and thus will create more jobs in Cross River State in the next few years for our teeming youth population, reducing unemployment, poverty and crime.
Going forward, the efforts of the Senator Ben Ayade administration will be more deliberate in integrating the creative industry in the state in the Carnival Calabar and Festivals and the outcomes will be measured to keep track of growth of the industry.
Carnival Calabar and Festivals has enjoyed unprecedented support locally, nationally and globally and all we are asking for, is that this should continue in 2018 and beyond. Together we will build the Cross River State creative economy through Carnival Calabar and Festivals.
Emmanuel Etim is the SSA to Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River on Creative and Knowledge Economy