COMMUNIQUÉ FROM THE 1ST MEETING OF PROFESSORS OF THEATRE ARTS IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES
The first meeting of Professors of Theatre and Media Arts in Nigerian Universities held at the University of Abuja from the 1st to the 3rd of November 2015. The meeting was organized by the Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA). In attendance were professors of Theatre, Dramatic, Creative and Performing Arts as well as professors of Film Production and Film/Media Studies from the following Universities: University of Ibadan, University of Lagos, University of Jos, University of Ilorin, University of Maiduguri, University of Benin, University of Port Harcourt, University of Abuja, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Federal University Lafia, Kwara State University, Malete, Nasarawa State University Keffi, and Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island.
The meeting consisted of an Opening Ceremony and a Technical and Executive sessions. Among those in attendance at the opening ceremony were Prof. Michael Umale Adikwu, the Vice-Chancellor of University of Abuja, the Deputy Vice Chancellor administration Prof. Sani Mashi and the DVC Academics, Prof. Gboyega Kolawole; Prof. S. O. O. Amali, former Vice-Chancellor of University of Ilorin and Nasarawa State University, Keffi and a Trustee of SONTA; Prof. Duro Oni, Deputy Vice Chancellor Management Services, University of Lagos; Prof. Olu Obafemi, former Director of Research, National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) – Chairman of the occasion; Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, Executive Secretary/CEO, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Professor Hyginus Ekwuazi, former Managing Director, Nigeria Film Corporation; Prof. Saviour N.A. Agoro, Provost, Isaac Jasper Boro College of Education; Prof. Saint Gbilekaa, former Chief of Staff to Benue State Governor; Prof. Emman Dandaura, former president of SONTA and a Trustee; Prof. Mabel Evwierhoma, Dean of Arts, University of Abuja; Prof. Sunday E. Ododo, President of SONTA and convener of the meeting, amongst many others.
Papers were presented at the meeting to set the tone for discussions. The chairman for the Technical Session was Prof. Olu Obafemi. The papers are:
- “A Critique/Review of the Media Arts/Film/Film Studies Programme: Towards a Benchmark Template” by Prof. Hyginus Ekwuazi.
- “Theatre Arts – Industry Interface and Industrial Training Fund (ITF) – SIWES” by Prof. S. E. Ododo.
- “Developing a Template for the Appointment and Promotion of Theatre Artists in Nigerian Universities” by Prof. Sam Ukala.
- “Benchmark for Theatre/Dramatic/Performing Arts Programme and Cultural Studies in Nigerian Universities: Towards a Template of Modification for more Relevance” by Prof. Emman S. Dandaura.
- “Falling Standards both in Teaching and Publications; Physical Conditions of Performance and Training; Research and Mentoring.” by Prof. Olu Obafemi.
At the end of the presentations, three main issues engaged the attention of the professors
in attendance. They are:
- The place of Theatre/Dramatic/Performing Arts in Media Arts, Film and Film Studies.
- Theatre – Industry interface; and
- Developing a template for Appointment and Promotion of lecturers in Theatre/ Media Arts.
After exhaustive deliberations, the meeting observed as follows:
- That the current content of Theatre Arts curricula is not responsive to industry needs.
- That Film Production is different from Film Studies and there is currently no template for them and that both are integral to the Performing Arts.
- That there is an inadequacy of technical and physical facilities for effective curriculum delivery.
- That there is no coherent policy of Industrial Attachment for the Creative Arts.
- That currently there is no commensurate template for evaluating practice and scholarship.
- That the current BMAS does not reflect current realities and development in the discipline.
In the light of the foregoing observations the meeting recommends as follows:
- There is need to establish and review periodically the curriculum in order to connect between the Academia, Industry and Government.
- There is need to develop separate templates for Film and Film Studies and both should be domiciled in Theatre Arts.
- For effective delivery of theory and practice, Government should make improved budgetary allocations for resource input and physical facilities.
- The University system should create a template that is favourable to both practice and scholarship for promotional evaluation.
- As experts and professionals in the discipline, there is need to carry along SONTA and affiliate bodies in issues of Policy and Curriculum Development for Theatre Arts and Film Studies.
- SONTA should organize a workshop for theatre and media/film arts professors to revise existing curriculum and make necessary recommendations to the NUC on BMAS for theatre, Film/Media arts and cultural studies soonest.
We thank the Vice-Chancellor, University of Abuja for hosting the meeting and for his very useful suggestions. We thank the professors that attended the meeting and the media in a special way, particularly Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Voice of Nigeria (VON) for excellent coverage of the event. And we thank the executive Secretary of the Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma and his team for supporting this initiative.
Professor Sunday Enessi Ododo, fsonta Professor Olu Obafemi, fsonta, NAL
President, SONTA Chairman of the Meeting
3rd November, 2015