By Tajudeen Sowole
Tuesday, 21 June 2011 00:00
In the corporate commitment of the late Managing Director / Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), Tayo Aderinokun, there were lessons to learn about the prospects of using art and culture to contribute to a developing economy in a country such as Nigeria where talents abound, but opportunities are difficult to access
The Terra Kulture venture, which Mrs Bolanle Austen-Peters founded came at a period when there was a gap to fill in the creative sector: outlets for art exhibitions and performing arts were on the decline; cost of exhibition was out of reach, particularly for younger artists.
Between 2003, when the partnership started, and few years after, a new phase of art and culture management and marketing surfaced on Nigeria’s creative landscape. In the past seven to eight years, Terra Kulture’s art gallery was known as one of the very few galleries that organise art exhibitions regularly as well as promoting young artists. Terra Kulture has also brought back the culture of theatre and regular musical concerts.
In August 2006, Terra Kulture, with the support of Ford Foundation launched a talent support programme, which had over 100 entries from across the country. The result brought two young artists, Titus Agbara and Tayo Olayode into the public glare after their residency in Ghana with the master painter, Ablade Glover. Also, the project produced a group exhibition of the grantees titled Celebration of Talents from which most of the participating artists had their first public exposure.
And when Ford Foundation, in 2009, offered to rehabilitate the National Museum, Onikan, Aderinokun was part of this rescue team.
Under the GTB / Terra Kulture initiative known as Arts and Business Foundation (ABF), the Private Public Partnership (PPP) with Ford Foundation promised a $2m support to return the glory of the museum as well as create a relationship between the arts’ community and the business class in the country.
During the presentation, Aderinokun noted that government had been the main funder of the art and culture and assured that it’s a new dawn for the synergy beyond CSR, but a more entrepreneurial approach for greater development.
Last year, Aderinokun’s relentless efforts in human resources was also noticed in giving art education and appreciation at the rudimentary level when selected students of Day Waterman College, Abeokuta, Ogun State, exhibited at the school’s maiden exhibition in Lagos. Titled Our Genesis and organised by Mydrim Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos, works on display showed that there was a bright future for visual art; given the background of these young ones. The signal being sent here was that art connoisseurs and collectors of the future are already emerging with eye for masterpieces.
And if anyone was in doubt of the talents of these future masters and how it could impact on future art landscape, Aderinokun, who was the promoter of the school, assured that “the creativity of these children would be more amazing in 10 years time.”
|Yinka shonibare's sculpture at Trafalgar's Square sponsored by GTB|
During his brief visit to Nigeria, Shonibare, whilst stressing the importance of corporate support for art commended the effort of GTB. He noted that the work tells about the multiculturalism of London and encounter between England and Nigeria.
Also, Aderinokun’s touch extended to the literary stage as he left a mark by supporting the annual Poetry, Laughter, Arts and You (PLAY), produced by Ben Tomoloju. This was an extension of his well-known romance with Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).
Indeed, all these showed that the late Aderinokun had passion for art long before his status as MD of the bank. However, the Terra Kulture partnership seemed to have widened the scope of his interest in the arts.
Few days ago, Austen-Peters stated that Aderinokun, as the founding chairman of Terra Kulture was a role model: an example of dedication, vision, resilience and humility. And more importantly, The Arts benefited from his vast knowledge of human resources. “He loved and respected the gifts and talents of people, encouraged and gave people the opportunity to express themselves. He was an incredible philanthropist, who gave because it was the right thing to do, not because he was getting anything in return.” The Terra Kulture idea, she recalled “came in 2002 and GTBank partnered with me in 2003.”
From visual arts to performing arts, the creative community described his death as a big loss. Chairman, Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), Lagos State Chapter, Oliver Enwonwu while commiserating with the late art patron’s family stated that “Aderinokun will be remembered not only for his achievements as an astute banker, but for his contributions through Terra Kulture and GTBank in the promotion and increased visibility of our rich visual culture.”
Former chairman of SNA, Lagos State, Olu Ajayi traced the rise of art décor in corporate Nigeria to the emergence of GTBank. He noted that Aderinokun, his co founding partner Tajudeen Fola Adeola and their friend Gbolade Osibodu set the trend for “the next generation concept in banking and business.”
Osibodu, he argued, changed the art of marketing and corporate gift, while in banking Aderinokun and Fola Adeola brought new ideas in the area of decor, customer relationship and professionalism. “Now in decor, art is used as a significant element to portray the Nigerian culture and tradition, blending into a corporate setting of international standard. This patronage, which started in the 1990s ushered in a new dimension and appreciation of art in the corporate world. This much reflected in the socio-economic status of artists. Tayo was simple and approachable; I remember when we needed sponsorship for our arts exhibition in SNA and GFA, he was always there to admit our last minute requests.”
Vice President, Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA), Abiodun Olaku noted that as patron Aderinokun “exuded a subdued charisma and unobstrusive charm.” Olaku described him as “a visionary leader as well as an astute organizer of men and situation,” who “will be missed for his unassuming generosity and philanthropy.” Playwright and director Wole Oguntokun
noted that Aderinokun “contributed significantly to whatever growth might be attributed to me in the theatre.” He commended the late businessman and Austen-Peters for giving out the multi-purpose hall of Terra Kulture for regular theatre performance, every week “at little or no charge for three and half years.” This gesture, he noted, was an effort by the management of Terra Kulture to promote weekly stage shows. He added: “I do not think I ever met Mr. Aderinokun more than twice in person but his kind acts towards a near stranger continue to reverberate positively.”