BY: VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
The Cultural Centre, Calabar will soon bounce back to its original concept of an event centre,.
This was disclosed by the Senior Special Assistant to the Cross River State governor, Senator Ben Ayade, Hon.. Victor Ekpo Ita, when he received members of Online Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria(OMPAN), Cross River state chapter in his office.
He debunked rumours making the rounds that Cultural Centre has been abandoned by the Ayade led administration.
According to him, “there is going to be a new face of cultural centre coming up. It was designed to be an Event Centre and not just a building. If you check across the country, there is only two iconic buildings in the whole country. That is National Theatre, Iganmu in Lagos and our Cultural Centre, If I take you round the center, you will begin to appreciate what we have here.”
“The point is that His Excellency Senator Ben Ayade has a vision to transform the centre back to its original concept. Anything he does he adds gold to it. He introduced the green and bikers carnival. Those are golden concepts to Calabar carnival, he pointed out”.
Furthermore, he said, “what His Excellency has done in the Calabar Carnival, in industrialising the state, is what he wants to do by transforming the Cultural Centre . There is a new cultural centre that is coming up soon. It is not as if there is going to be a new building,, but refurbishing and repackaging of the existing structure. It is not going to be like the old Sunday Sunday show. We have passed that stage. I am an entertainer and I have the wisdom to drive this place, hence, I was appointed by His Excellency”.
He said, “when you leave Lagos and you want to talk about entertainment, you must think of Calabar . Calabar for the past 20 years has sustained its glory as one of the entertainment hub of this country and that entertainment sits on a tripod arrangement . We have the Department of Theatre Arts and Mass Communication, Tourism Bureau and Carnival Commission and then the Cultural Centre. You cannot have all these around you without succeeding”.
“Cultural Centre is not in any way in comatose. It has been performing its role to the public and the society. Charity begins at home. Cross River State Broadcasting Corporation CRBC is already showcasing our culture in most of its programmes
“Every month, he said, you will see the likes of Sinach and other big gospel artists every last Friday of the month. We will have a national if not international gospel show. In fact let me go back to history because you can’t talk about anything without making reference to the past. The first ever International Jazz Festival took place in the Cultural Centre Mainbowl. So I am telling you that if we are going to have an international packaged event, we cannot choose any other venue other than Cultural Centre because we have done it before.”
Ita said “we are going to introduce other theatre events with our partners. We have a strong paternship with University of Calabar Theatre Department. There will be International Fashion Shows here quarterly. We shall have events at least quarterly”.
The SSA said, “there has been what is called the Cultural Carnival. It is pioneered by the Department of Culture and Heritage in partnership with the Carnival Commission. Carnival is put together with the Carnival Commission. We are just partners to ensure that we show case the beauty of our state. During the festival, we have the 18 local government areas coming to compete. Cultural center helps to prepare the different LGAs for the cultural carnival.”.
4ccording to him, “for us, we have been part of the carnival right from inception. The very first time carnival happened in Calabar, it started from the Cultural Centre . We all filed out here before moving into the streets of calabar.”.
Therefore, “you can not isolate cultural centre or the Department of Culture and Heritage . It is a marriage that has been ongoing and it will be difficult to divorce that marriage. Carnival Calabar is the high .point. The Cultural carnival is a package inside the Calabar carnival. There must be a hype point. It is the thing that attracts investors and tourists in Calabar, while Cultural Carnival is to encourage our culture within ourselves and Nigeria as a nation that is why we encourage other states to come and compete. Carnival is not our culture per se. It came all the way from Northern America and so we must follow them.”.
Besides that,he noted, ” there is something called “nyoro, utomobong, tinkoriko ,etc, it is Cultural Centre that puts it together . I must say that Calabar carnival is the high point of the carnival . The cultural carnival is just a package inside the Calabar carnival.”
He said “when the Minister for Agriculture came to Calabar early this year, it was our troupe that received him and his entourage . We are up and doing and very much alive to all our responsibility as far as culture is concerned.
Calabar carnival festival events will be held here in the Cultural Centre this year. On the issue of encouraging local artists, he said only 2face is in his mind for now because he is the only legendary artist in my judgement and we will love to have him back in Calabar.
Earlier, the Chairman of Online Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria, Efio Ita Nyok, said the courtesy call was to congratulate him as a member of the family of bloggers in the state on his new appointment as Senior Special Advise for Cultural Centre to Governor Ben Ayade.
“This is a form of familiarisation visit and partnership with your Department, he said”.
“Everything culture in the state is very significant to us as bloggers . We like stories that hooves around culture , entertainment and all that. This is a formal notice of cooperation between your office and this association, he added.
According to him, “one of the challenges we usually have has to do with public sector and the communities, is dearth of information hence creating room for assumption. And so we don’t want to come up with assumption in the area of culture particularly in the Cultural Centre, hence this visit.”.
Nyok urged him to be focussed in his new appointment so as to return Cultural Centre to its original concept.