Artists Protest as Government Demolishes Artists’ Village at National Arts Theatre

Artists National TheatreOn Saturday, the Artists’ Village at the National Arts Theatre was demolished based on orders from the Director of the National Arts Theatre.

The government’s position is that the Village had become a hive for illegal and illicit activities. The artists on the other side dispute that accusation and claim the government has less than pure motives for their actions including possible commercial use of the space versus the current free art space.

Bulldozer Artsist Village

Justin Chinedu Ezirim shared this on Facebook;

Let it be on record before the battle begins, that the DG (Kabiru Yusuf) of the National Arts Theatre has become a complete nuisance to the Artists community. And since he is a representative of the Federal Government, his recent action further tells us that this present government is bent on completely destroying the arts and creative expressions.

As we were rejoicing with Jelili Atiku on his release from Kirikiri, the Artistes village, which is annexed to the national theatre witnessed a demolition in the early hours of yesterday, Saturday 23rd January 2016. The space, which can be readily considered as the only space that still brews creativity within the entire structure of the national theatre, whose glory is constantly sinking into the muddy grounds surrounding it.

Eyewitnesses reported that the DG in company of a battalion of fully armed policemen, including the DPO came to the artists village with bulldozers at about 5am yesterday and started demolishing workshops and structures that housed veteran actors, painters, sculptors, drums etc. without prior notice of demolition.

Artists Village Destroyed 2As if this wasn’t bad enough, the DG ordered that anyone pleading or reacting to this move should be shot. Presently some artistes are receiving treatment at the hospital.
In fear of the reaction of the angry youths at the village, the DG brought out a pistol, shot in the air, and once again ordered the police to continue shooting before running away from the scene.
The ugly incidence have rendered a lot of the artistes mentally homeless and destroyed their priceless intellectual properties.

Artists Village destroyedThis is another call to action for the general public, the symbolism of constant menace to the artists in our society, should make us all worry at the level of inconsideration that is yet to hit many of us within the larger society. In the name of advancement, cruelty is becoming the proposed weapon here. I am highly worried because obviously this is an order coming from the minister Lai Muhammed who visited the edifice few weeks ago.

I, like many others began our careers in this village, this is a very sad news because we still got our memories imbued in those demolished edifices, and the destruction of that space may lead to trauma and a creative discontent which the state is not willing to go into with its creative citizens.

This madness is becoming a norm, and as you know, when some shy lucks are given power, they misuse it and become tyrants to the society. This is the case of the DG of the national theatre. He has called for a battle and he will get it beyond his wildest imagination.

Art is a profession and not a hobby I insist. Artists should be respected just as other professionals I insist. It’s time to speak truth directly to power.

‪#‎DanceIsAweapon‬ ‪#‎thisisartless‬ ‪#‎saveartistesvillage‬ ‪#‎lifeofadancer‬ ‪#‎tradac‬ ‪#‎NDF‬ ‪#‎eraoflegends‬ ‪#‎squad1productions‬ ‪#‎justdancestudio‬ ‪#‎respecttheart‬ ‪#‎kabibumustgo‬

The artists have also scheduled an open meeting this week at the Freedom Park in Lagos.

Photo Credit
: Facebook – Squad1productions |

12 Comments on Artists Protest as Government Demolishes Artists’ Village at National Arts Theatre
  • Me January 24, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    What kain of Agbero leaders do we have. ‘He shot in the air and order the police to shoot’ na wa! God help us. The earlier we begin to appreciate the art industry, the better for us. In other countries, art is treasure. May God console them and open other doors of opportunity for them.

  • Cindy January 24, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    This story is one kain. I still believe we live in a democracy. There’s more to this.

  • Peter Ecoma January 24, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    Wrong!!!! This is just wrong and outrageous! As a fellow artist/student of art I can imagine the pain those artists must be going through looking at your hardwork destroyed by a low life power drunk tyrant with no regard for the arts or the effort put into creating those art pieces. This shows total disregard for Art and that is unacceptable. Art is life.

  • me January 24, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    The Nigerian govt has no plan for our economy. Instead of this, they should be building them a better craft location in lere, and on the island. Art aint cheap, These are items that can be exported and instead of encouraging them, you destabilize them… tufia unu

  • sharon January 24, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    Cindy i’m sorry but we need to wake up. There isn’t democracy in this country anymore. We have tyrants as leaders. Our strength is in our collective voices. If people raise enough dust, they’ll be forced to address this madness.

  • Uberhaute looks January 24, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    Why not relocate them instead of destroying intellectual property of another?
    If they call us animals, we’ll be disagreeing

  • nnenne January 25, 2016 at 12:07 am

    When the unexposed, uninformed people are ruling the educated…….

  • nnenne January 25, 2016 at 12:17 am

    So, because Touts loiter around the area, the answer, is to chase the Artists away and destroy their work?
    What happened to providing security, modernization, collaborating with the artists, relocation?
    This our democracy get as e bee!

  • Tosin January 25, 2016 at 12:39 am

    Please o, what is art? Is it not to wear dada hair and perform miscellaneous illicit acts? There is no place for such rubbish in an olodocracy / gerontocracy, please. Respect yourselves.

    Very painful, very painful. The nyash leading the head.

    • abiola January 26, 2016 at 12:36 am

      @tosin, let me broaden your knowledge and low level of thinking about art..
      Art is when you hear a knocking from your
      soul — and you answer.
      “Art is not a thing, it is a way.. a total way of life..
      Art is a collaboration between God and the
      artist, and the less the artist does the better.
      Art will remain the most astonishing activity
      of mankind born out of struggle between
      wisdom and madness, between dream and
      reality in our mind.
      Art is not what you see, but what you make
      others see. and finally for now Art is literacy of the heart… @tosin, I suggest u respect your view concerning art

  • jason January 25, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Demolition of Fela’s Shrine loading….

  • Guobadia Felix January 25, 2016 at 11:45 am

    In this days of nows no democracy police who are to protect live an property are been destructed by so called leaders, if this don’t stop one day a cow we contess an won (Art is a profession, and is a causes to my understanding if not no need of minister of art and culture)

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