The Terra Academy for the Arts (TAFTA), a leading creative academy in West Africa, is on a mission to train 65,000 creatives across Nigeria. The five-year training program aims to equip young Nigerians with relevant skills across key sub-sectors in theatre and business. In February 2023, TAFTA graduated 2,000 students from its 1st cohort who had successfully completed its six-week course.
In this conversation with Kayode Olusope, Senior Program Manager, TAFTA, and Dorcas Oluwaseyi Bakare, a recent graduate from the 1st Cohort, they discuss the inspiration, purpose, and impact of the creative academy.
Q1. Kindly tell us about yourself and TAFTA.
Kayode Olusope: My name is Kayode Olusope, and I work for Terra Academy for the Arts as the Senior Program Manager. TAFTA was established to build and empower a community of young Nigerians who will revolutionize the creative industry and have an impact on the economy and society. It works to support the long-term growth of Nigerian youth in the creative sector. The academy offers young Nigerians access to a top-notch creative education, employment prospects, and entrepreneurial opportunities. We are renowned for providing a rigorous and innovative curriculum with specialized courses in sound design, stage lighting, animation, and scriptwriting.
Q2. What was the inspiration and driving purpose behind the establishment of TAFTA?
Kayode Olusope: Bolanle Austen-Peters, also known as BAP, is the driving force behind the Terra Kulture collection of institutions including the Terra Kulture Arena, bookshop, art gallery, restaurant, and tourist center. With the mission of promoting the richness and diversity of Nigerian languages, arts, and culture whilst empowering future generations, BAP sought to create the academy to impart requisite entrepreneurial and technical skills to young women and men across select areas of theatre and business. It is important to note that TAFTA is a completely free program!
Q3. Please share an overview of the current TAFTA program and training curriculum.
Kayode Olusope: Currently we offer free e-learning programs and courses in scriptwriting, stage lighting, sound design, and animation. These courses last for six weeks but can be completed at the pace of each individual student. As long as they are connected to the internet, they can complete their courses from anywhere in the world whenever they want. For the sound design and stage lighting courses, once students are done with the online courses, there are in-person practical workshops available. Those in the scriptwriting program will write a screenplay and have the content marked by industry experts.
The next phases include mentorship and coaching that will help build the students into qualified professionals who are capable of leading the creative world through their specialities. We also set up employment linkages for the students as well and help them obtain business capital through loans with First City Monument Bank (FCMB). Many of our students have been asked to join organizations across Nigeria as interns which is exciting.
Q4. How can those who are interested register for the academy?
Kayode Olusope: For those who are interested, all they need to do is register on the website www.terraacademyforarts.com. Once registered, our team will get in contact with you to get you started on your course and therefore on your road to success. If you are in Lagos, Ogun, or Kano states, and don’t have continuous access to the internet, we have physical learning centres in each of these states. Every one of you has a great deal of potential and wealth inside of you. Come join Terra Academy for the Arts so that we can help you unlock this potential.
Q5. As a student, kindly introduce yourself and let us know how you found out about the academy.
Dorcas Bakare: My name is Dorcas Oluwaseyi Bakare and I am a scriptwriter and a proud alumnus of TAFTA. A friend of mine called me one afternoon and said, “Dorcas, it’s been a while since I read any of your pieces.” I replied that I had stopped writing entirely because it was an expensive hobby for me and I couldn’t really keep up. He then asked if I had heard of the TAFTA program, to which I replied that I had already taken numerous online courses that I couldn’t even keep up with. My friend kept encouraging me to try it out, especially since it was free, so I thought why not. I signed up for the scriptwriting course because of my love for telling stories.
Q6. What has the experience been like so far?
Dorcas Bakare: It’s been an extremely incredible experience. From the time of graduation till now, I have been able to write a number of synopsis and short stories that have been approved which is mind-blowing. Keep in mind, I have been writing for years and have never had anything approved before. Right now, I am working on an episodic film and TAFTA was the platform that gave me the courage to share my work with the world and gave me the tools I needed to expand my network.
Q7. What’s your advice to other Nigerian youth right now?
Dorcas Bakare: If you are anything like me, you know how difficult this industry can be and how sometimes all you want to do is check out. TAFTA is providing us with a motivating platform that is both free and flexible with your schedule. Even if your schedule is unpredictable, it will fit in, and sometimes I even wake up in the middle of the night to get my courses completed. Take advantage of this opportunity to grow your skills, no other place will offer the same support as TAFTA does. Take that step today and go register for a course on their website right now, it’ll be the best decision you’ve ever made.