Creatives are so-called because of the nature of what they specialize in. They are known for their artsy personality and how they often see things differently. What then turns this creativity into a business is when these artistic works become valuable to someone, and she/he is willing to pay for it. Therefore, with the right skills–self-taught or learned– coupled with the right attitude, creatives can turn, what may seem like a hobby to many, into a profitable business. This was how the creative industry was born.
The term “creative industry” has been used to define professions that fall under arts and culture, music, film, fashion, theatre, visual arts, advertising, publishing, media, photography, tourism, software development etc. The British Council (2014) described these categories as those who have the opportunity of wealth creation through the use of their individual creativity, skill, talent and intellectual property. Therefore, a creative entrepreneur is one who observes and sees an opportunity in the creative industry, and often churns out creative innovations to fill that gap while also, making a profit.
The 3 major areas of the creative industry in Nigeria, according to the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, are the music industry, the film industry, and the information technology industry. The Nigerian music industry is the largest music industry in Africa and has contributed about 9% of the country’s GDP, and the film industry, Nollywood, amasses large viewership with cinemas grossing hundreds of millions just weeks after the release of movies. Nollywood has contributed to the country’s GDP by 2.3%, and has provided employment for many citizens. Earlier this year, Uche Nwuka, the group head, creative industry at Bank of Industry (BOI), revealed that the creative industry contributes 20% of the nations GDP. For all of these reasons, the Nigerian government has begun to partner with financial institutions to find ways to support the industry and encourage their hard work.
However, there are high risks involved in the creative industry and this still restricts further growth and development. Some of the challenges the industry faces include funding, which is a major challenge. The creative industry needs funds to finance the expenses of their projects. To be able to create quality work, a lot of equipment and materials are needed for production. Equipment that some members of this industry may not be able to afford on their own. The Bank of Industry (BOI) has developed strategies to tackle this funding issue. In 2013, Premium Times reported that former president, Goodluck Jonathan had announced that a N3 billion Entertainment/Nollywood Fund will be set aside for the film industry and disbursed to qualified applicants by the Bank of Industry. In July 2019, Access bank announced a CBN Creative Industry Financial Fund (CIFI), that will allow creative businesses–fashion, music, information technology, film and software engineering– access loans up to N500million. Other bodies have provided platforms for members of the creative industry to meet and engage their target audience. The Guaranty Trust Bank’s (GTB) annual Fashion Weekend is one of such events. It aims at promoting the fashion industry in Nigeria by bringing together designers and consumers and providing trading opportunities for them.
Another challenge that stunts the growth of the creative industry is the issue of distribution and piracy, especially in the music and film industries, and among writers, artists, and content creators. This legal and business part of the industry which springs out from licensing and copyright laws in Nigeria are hardly acknowledged or enforced by relevant bodies. Creatives therefore face the threat of losing their work and intellectual property to pirates or pricing too low due to saturation in the market as a result of pirated copies.
In conclusion, creativity is not just a hobby anymore. A creative entrepreneur is one who identifies a gap in the creative industry, and develops a solution for it, at a reasonable price. He, therefore, turns his creative skills into a business. To thrive in the creative industry, the creative has to, not just possess the talent, but also have the right attitude. He has to be prepared to take certain amounts of risk, recognize opportunities when he sees them, and take major steps–like training, research, seeking assistance–to further develop and improve his talents.
In Nigeria, different government bodies are beginning to recognize the strength and the value the industry brings. It may have taken a while, but the realization that the creative industry is here to stay, has been made.
For the Nigerian creative industry to continue to grow and maximize its potential, the drawbacks mentioned above need to be tackled.
- Awareness for the funds provided by the government for the creative industry, should be made, so that more creative entrepreneurs can benefit from these schemes. Many creatives may be unaware that these funds have been provided for their use, and may keep struggling to raise funds to produce quality content for consumers. It would be encouraging if they knew that with the appropriate documents, they can apply for grants and access these funds.
- Relevant bodies should create and enforce policies that protect the intellectual property of members of the industry. This would not only protect the creative industry but also promote the Nigerian economy.
- Government can further aid the development of the creative industry by introducing school curriculum that educates and encourages the younger generation to participate in creative skill acquisitions and training.
- With the aid of new and digital media, creative industries can further amplify their works. Creatives should strive for improvement and learn new and better ways of expanding. They should take advantage of the availability of the internet and technology to gain more reach and connect with their target audience.