BENIN is the cradle of Art, the world knows that, but it is sad that we do not have a local market here in Benin. There are months that we do not make any sales at all and sometimes, I don’t pay my staff for like two (2) months; we have months like that and all these I understood before venturing into the Art business, I know we are going to have our heating period.
One thing I discovered in the Art business is that people buy what they can identify with even when it comes to furniture, clothes whatever you find people want to wear certain kinds of designers why? Because they identify with their corporate image, of course a lot of people follow the crowd but there are people who actually determine the trends; those are the people who know what they are looking for, when you understand these, then you begin to understand and then begin to look beyond your personal gains and invest in the Art. As Artists, you have a lot of responsibilities, so, Artists should go back to the drawing board, they should try to consult and work with people who know the Art business very well to enlighten them, and they should know how to run a gallery or how galleries are being run.
The second gallery we visited was the Edo carving Centre where the manager, Mr. Agho Williams shared with us his experience in the Art business. According to the Artist, Art business (patronage) is not moving because the government neglected the Art sector. The government always appraise Benin Artworks but does nothing to encourage local Artists or improve the Art. Before now, carvers here are more than 50 workers but now, we only have less than 5 persons and the youths no longer wants to learn the art for lack of investors.
On our third outing, we paid a visit to Semo Art Gallery. To the manager, Mr. Isaac Asemota, the Art business is very inspiring and quietly profitable if more funds are applied to it. he said as for him, the Art business is moving but at a slow pace and people don’t patronize him on a daily basis reason being that Art business is not an everyday thing. He also wish the government will create or build an Art village where people (Artists) from all over the world will converge to invest in the Art. He further said Artists from Edo State gets little or no encouragement from the government that is why Art patronage is on the verge of collapsing. We as Africans have cultures and our cultural heritage is displayed in our carvings, painting, pottery and bronze works; when these things die, our culture as a country dies. It will be so sad because people fought so hard to preserve this cultural heritage from one generation to another, so the government should please wake up to this call.
The Fourth Gallery we visited on the same topic was the “frontier Christi Art Gallery.” In an interactive section with the manager, Mr. Uche Umeh who is also a Master’s student in the department of Fine and Applied Arts, UNIBEN said Art patronage in Benin is very challenging as the business is mostly left for the local craftsmen who are rarely innovative and who do not introduce novelty into the market; and that is why people barely patronizes Art because they see the same thing most times. But as for me, we are making progress though at a slow pace, but its encouraging because Art is not everyday’s consumption.

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