Visual Arts Industry And Its Potential For Job Creation And Economic Development in Cross River BY EMMANUEL ETIM

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emmanuel etim visual arts

The third treatise in our series on potentials of the creative industry for creating jobs and contributing to the development of our economy is focused on visual art industry.

Earlier, we had taken a look at the film industry and the music industry. This promises to be as enlightening as the first and the second.

Globally, visual arts along with other forms of art have become the essence of social evolution. Art affects every part of life and more individuals are awakening to the role of art in global development. Visual-art is defined as the art created primarily for visual perception, as drawing, graphics, painting, sculpture, ceramics and even textile design.

There is evidence to show that in spite of the seeming recession in the global economy in the last few years, the demand for art around the world has remained fairly stable. Industry analysts say this indicates a relatively strong commitment on the part of stakeholders; artists, collectors and exhibitors, borne of passion for art.

It concerns itself with the expression, reproduction and communication of nature with human feeling through the use of media and materials. It designates those form of arts addressed primarily to the sense of visual.

Nigeria, over the decades, has been renowned for art all over the world. The Ife terracotta heads, the Benin Bronze sculpture and many more date towel beyond the 19th Century and still stand out prominently today. Contemporary art in Nigeria can be said to compete favourably with art from other nations.

This treatise seeks to take a look at Visual Arts industry and its potential for job creation and economic development in Cross River State.

Any society that does not consciously and adequately plan towards the holistic empowerment and wellbeing of its youth is bound to run into crisis, since they constitute the most important segment of the populace by virtue of their size and the obvious fact that they are the future leaders.

Visual arts, which is an aspect of vocational education has the potential of giving most of these youths skills to be responsible; creative and productive citizens.

A more definite way to reduce the level of youth unemployment, which is responsible for high crime and poverty rate in Nigeria, would be to promote youth empowerment through encouraging Nigerian students to enroll in visual arts, which is capable of giving them skills for self-reliance and economic independence.

As a skilled vocation with various specialized areas, visual arts have great potentials in the economic development of Cross River State as well as job creation for youths. The importance of visual arts to any society or nation thus cannot be overemphasized.

Visual arts could be rightly regarded as education for work empowerment and empowerment brings economic growth and national development. Training in the visual arts empowers youth with skills. In acquiring these marketable skills, he or she also acquires habits and attitudes necessary for success on the job.

Let us now take a look at some of the areas of visual arts in Nigeria that can be developed to become major job creation and economic development opportunities for Cross River State.


This is an aspect of visual art that deal with the production of designs that facilitates visual communication. It deals with production of logos, posters, hand bills, flairs, greeting cards, book covers, billboards, printing of various types of banners. Well trained graphic artist can be employed or be self-reliant and become an employer of labor.


This aspect of visual art is a process of coating a surface with colored pigments or materials with a result. Youths that equip themselves with skills in painting would not lack; and such individual would contribute massively to the development of the state.


This is part of visual art that deals with forms and exists in three dimensions. It also means to sculpt from a solid mass. Sculptures are very viable area in the visual arts that is capable of creating jobs for the teeming youths.


This is an aspect of visual art that refers to all products made of clay, hardened and glazed by heat treatment through the firing process. The economic viability of ceramics makes this area of art very lucrative also.

Textile design:

This is about creative decoration of fabrics and other allied products for clothing, drapes and furniture. The decoration may take the form of dying, printing, painting, embroidery, stitching, appliqué, etc. The fact that every human being; irrespective of class, race, creed or color needs clothing, make textile design an important means for sustainable economic empowerment.

If visual arts is given the attention it deserves; and students motivated largely to enroll to study the course in Nigerian institutions, the youths in Nigeria will become self-employed and also become employers of labor, capable of contributing to and at the same time benefiting from the economic growth and development.

Visual Art as an enterprise can thus become one of the most effective strategies for providing youth with opportunities to develop saleable skills which will not only be for the employment but also to bring about the much needed economic development in Cross River State.

I will at this point recommend a few steps that the Cross River State Government must take to promote the growth of visual art in the state to achieve some of the stated objectives. They include:

1. The Cross River State Government must review the State Educational Policy to include fine arts as a major subject in the school curriculum from the lowest to the highest level.

2. The Cross River State Government in partnership with private organizations and agencies must set up arts academies for training of youth in visual arts.

3. The Cross River State Government should also partner with private organizations and agencies to build a modern art gallery to provide an outlet for art work in the state.

4. The Cross River State Government must promote the patronage and use of art work by public and private organizations in the state.

5. Efforts must be made by all stakeholders to mainstream visual art industry initiatives into economic and social development programmes of the state.

Emmanuel Etim is a Development Consultant based in Nigeria.

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