Lagos is one of the richest states in Nigeria, but its wealth does not reflect in the creative sector of the economy.
This assertion was made by Makinde Adeniran, the chairman of Lagos chapter of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), during the 2018 World Theatre Day Advocacy Roundtable on Tuesday at the Freedom Park, Lagos.
With the theme, ‘Developing the Creative Industry Through Taxation’, the roundtable, which preceded the presentation of Efua Sutherland’s play, ‘The Marriage of Anansewa’, later in the day, was attended by Lagos State government officials, NANTAP members from Nigeria and Ghana, as well as arts journalists.
According to Adeniran, Lagos is not making as much as it ought to from the creative industry.
“We need to exploit our potentials, or foreigners will come and exploit it, if they are not here already,” he said.
Adeniran indicted the thespians for not patronising the theatre.
“We, the practitioners, have to begin to love what we do with passion; from there we can encourage the public to embrace the culture and to patronise the industry.
“Theatre is broad, it is the laboratory of the film industry all over the world,” he said.
Israel Eboh, NANTAP national president, said the artiste was supposed to pay tax to government from whatever they earn, even outside theatre.
However, Femi Odugbemi, a filmmaker, charged the tax office to create awareness, for the artiste to know that they were supposed to pay tax.
Muyiwa Ogungbenro, a lawyer and tax expert, noted that the artiste has the right to file for tax credit every three months from whoever deducts their tax, even from the bank.
Nana Ofori-Atta, board chairman of Ghana National Theatre, charged the tax office to give the potential tax-payer reason to pay tax.
For him, the benefit of a tax regime is not getting the artiste to pay tax, but getting the artiste to benefit from the tax paid.
Tony Okuyeme, the Secretary of NANTAP, said arts was paying little or nothing in terms of financial rewards to its practitioners.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) declared March 27 of every year as the World Theatre Day (WTD).
It was initiated by the International Theatre Institute (ITI) in Paris, France, under UNESCO for the celebration of Theatre Arts and its relevance in positive global development.
By Terh Agbedeh