November 17, 2017

Bolanle Austen Peters

The ‘new look’ of Terra Kulture Arena

Into the first privately owned technology equipped modern arts theatre in the whole of Nigeria

Bolanle Austen-Peters is the first Nigerian woman to build a private theatre in Nigeria, basically from nothing. She started out as a lawyer in her father’s firm and then proceeded to work with the United Nations. Unfortunately her specialty in International Law based on human rights wasn’t relevant in Nigeria when she moved back in 2003 so she decided to follow her passion in theatre and literature.

Thanks to her involvement in the arts, Austen-Peters noticed that there was an absence of spaces and resources for artists, thespians and theatre enthusiasts to thrive; A deep empty space which couldn’t be filled up by diamonds or oil enterprises but which needed the support of a person whose the only purpose was to give value to Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage, elevating it over the archetypes of a country only based on raw materials and primary resources.

This gave rise to the birth of Terra Kulture Arena, a 400-seater of which Austen-Peters is the founder: a leading art, culture and educational centre located in Lagos which is now the premier recreational destination accessible to locals and foreigners alike; she put together the concept of Terra Kulture with the vision to celebrate Nigeria’s music and literary arts: a space that would capture the essence of Nigeria’s culture regarded as the all in one centre for arts and culture aficionados.

The theatre, which also doubles as a movie-screening venue,has already broken records with its two-day launch which hosted over 1,200 theatre enthusiasts. It will have the challenging role of providing Lagos, its environs, and Nigeria as a whole with a wide schedule of theatre, comedy, music and dance.

Terra Kulture has been at the forefront of Theatre Renaissance in Nigeria. The changing of the economic climate and the courage to back more audacious projects are central and are the leading players behind this revival of arts. “With the present economic climate in Nigeria, people are looking at other sources of revenue and income-generating sources other than oil so the arts is becoming more and more viable as an option for revenue generation and employment. In three years we’ve been able to change the face of theatre in Nigeria.” In his address, Minister of Information and Culture, Hon. Alhaji Lai Mohammed, commended Austen-Peters and pledged the support of the Federal Government to boost art and culture in the country.

Quality content is of course what Terra Kulture has come to be known pushing the arts and culture agenda almost single-handedly as the last two shows have shown. “I think corporate institutions are increasingly getting more and more comfortable with the kind of products that we are churning out.” Utter the Nigerian producer with a bit kind of emphasis.

Indeed, without doubt, the last two feature of the cultural hub of Lagos have been worthy of note: Wakaa! The Musical, which is a political story, explores satirically the challenges of four young Nigerian graduates with varied backgrounds face and underline the victory that comes with being tenacious in the face of adversity.

Instead SARO, which goes through lighter themes, describe the story of four people and their life-changing journey to Lagos in a human odyssey through hopes, dreams and destiny all crafted in an involving 14 act masterpiece. SARO explores the endeavours of the characters with an empathetic and realistic gaze, from the eyes of four people discovering themselves in a harsh, unwelcoming city.

Therefore it’s also important to explain that playing the Musicals in Lagos has been the first and most important step, but not the last one because there are bigger and more ambitious plans:We are looking at starting with neighbouring countries like Togo and Ghana, based on availability of funds. Then we are thinking of London”, concluded Austen-Peters.

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