By Gregory Austin Nwakunor
As part of a year-long series of events to celebrate the life and illustrious career of the iconic actress and culture advocate, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett (MoN), the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) will stage the first of its Arthouse Forum in 2021 today, March 7 in a hybrid live and virtual format.
The forum is the first in a series of four to be staged this year, according to the CORA Programme Directorate.
Themed, Women- Now that the Glass has been Shattered: What Next?, it is produced in collaboration with the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP).
It will feature, among other activities: eminent women speakers, screening of a documentary film, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett —Matriarch of the ACT, musical performances, dance, drama, and spoken word.
The CORA Programme Chair, Jahman Anikulapo, said: “The Committee for Relevant Art, where Mrs. Ajai-Lycett serves as a Board member, had, in November last year, announced that it was dedicating the entirety of its 2021 programme season to celebrating the woman who is easily revered as an icon of the Nigerian stage and screen.
“A sequence of events was set up to usher her into her new age, but due to the spread of the second wave of the pandemic, many of the events were postponed or canceled altogether,” Anikulapo said.
The directorate said there would be a quarterly event staged in “Real-Tual” (Live and Virtual) in the 2021 season. Each of the events will focus on a particular aspect of the society where the celebrant has a deep interest or has made her mark in near six decades of engagement.
“The first session on March 7 (today) is focusing on Culture and Education. The June edition will be on the Public Sector (politics & governance), and the September on Family & Values Reorientation. The final event, which will be the finale will be staged during the CORA prime project, the Lagos Book & Art Festival, LABAF, and this will bring together the various strands of the other three phases,” stated Anikulapo.
The veteran actress, art activist and culture advocate, whose career has spanned over six decades, Mrs. Ajai-Lycett was 80 on February 3, but the rising second wave of the pandemic prevented her constituency, the culture community, from rolling out the drum to celebrate an artist whose exemplary life and career have remained inspirational to several generations of practising artistes and culture producers.
The CORA programme directorate said it reasoned, “no other female personae within our socio-cultural life deserves to be fully celebrated as Anty Ajai-Lycett. Aside from being an actress of international repute, she is a culture advocate and mentor extraordinaire, who insists that our country and society can be rescued from its current trajectory of socio-political tragedy through the instrumentality of culture and education to set room for the reorientation of our young ones. In particular, we intend to set her exemplary life as the best template for the Girl-child and young women as they wade through the odds set on their path by a system that appears unbothered about their future.”
The event is strategically positioned to coincide with World Women’s Day on March 8 as well as “International Women’s Month (March). To this end, the programme is designed, as an all-women event, which means from planning to execution, carefully selected women, who are individually accomplished in their own field, will handle it.
Eight remarkable women leaders in the education and culture sectors speak for 10 minutes each on eight areas considered dear to Anty TAL’s life and career – the Arts, Environment, Education, Mentorship, Communication,
Administration, Empowerment and Culture Activism.
Each speaker’s contribution will reflect on her lived experience(s) or in her field of operation/discipline. Essentially, the individual contribution will serve as a means of mentorship to the body of students and youths (not more than 30) that we expect to form the main audience.
CORA expects to professionally record each contribution to developing a document that it can use for advocacy and as a mentorship tool for thousands of students and youths to whom it intends to screen the presentations in the course of the year and in the future.
The speakers are: Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industries, LCCI; Acting – Joke Silva – Actress; Production – Ifeoma Fafunwa – Theatre Director/Producer; Environment – Sola Alamutu — Environmental/Girl Child Activist; Education – Noma Shodipo – Educationist/ Social Activist; Mentorship – Sandra Obiago – Curator/Communication Activist; Art & Litt — Nkechi Nwosu-Igbo – Poet/Visual Artist; Empowerment — Iyabo Aboaba –Administrator/Art Manager Culture Advocacy – Chinwe Uwatse – Art/Culture Activist; Goodwill remarks: Bolanle Austen-Peters (CORA); Lara Akinshola (NANTAP); Performances: Yinka Davies; Ranti Ihimoyan; Ayeola Mabiaku and Producer: Kennii Ekundayo, art curator/culture producer.x
The ace culture production site, Freedom Park by Broad Street, Lagos Island will host the live event with limited number of guests while others will join by zoom, YouTube, Facebook and other social media platforms, according to the CORA.
The theme: Women- Now that the Glass has been Shattered: What Next? Is taken from a comment from an extended interview that the CORA documentary team had with Mrs Ajai-Lycett, in which she duly acknowledged that many more women have since assumed important and critical offices and status in the Nigerian corporate and political space, but it is not clear what the next move is, first, to consolidate such positions and expand the reach; and two, to use their attainment to lift other women, advance the cause of women in the polity, and as well set a solid template for the redress of the various injustices done to the Girl-child.
The CORA Arthouse Forum is a periodic session of exploration into fast-breaking development in the arts and culture sector of Nigeria. It is set up as an agenda-setting forum for those who administer culture in Nigeria. From the Forum, they could test the pulse of the arts and culture community. It is usually arranged around a landmark event in the life and career of personalities in the culture sector.