Perspectives on Awodiya’s practical theatre management aesthetics
From a layman’s perspective, it would appear that the Nigerian creative industry is flourishing. After all, isn’t Nigerian music in vogue across Africa? Hasn’t Nollywood, the brand name of Nigerian cinema, conquered Africa and its Black Diaspora? Yet a critical look at the arts in general and art institutions within Nigeria reveals a very bleak outlook. This much has been confirmed by Muyiwa Awodiya in his TETFUND published 2017 book entitled, Perspectives on Theatre Management, Arts Administration and Entrepreneurship in Nigeria. If there is any person who is eminently qualified to discuss this subject matter, then it must be Awodiya. First because he has taught Theatre Management and Arts Administration at the university level for over 30 years. Within this period, his pedagogy on the subject matter has covered both undergraduate and postgraduate students. On issues of philosophy, history and theory, he has not only taught the subject matter, but has equally been well published on it. And here, one of his earlier published works, Managing Arts Institutions in Nigeria, stands out. In this earlier work, he gave an extensive history, management structure, policies, trials and failures, of the art institutions, which he studied. For many years, it was the authoritative textbook on the subject matter in the Nigerian university system. Well, this is not surprising, because together with people like late Jide Malomo, Chris Nwamuo, Remi Adedokun and Olu Akomolafe, they stood like colossus as pioneer experts in Theatre Management and Arts Administration in Nigeria.
But Awodiya’s expertise bestrode both academia and the industry. For five years, he was the General Manager of MUSON Centre, Lagos, which he helped to build into the well-managed and the most reputable art institution in Nigeria. Today, if the other arts institutions in the country were as well managed as MUSON Centre, most probably, he would have written a different type of book. And he has done so in the past. His prodigious pen has produced such excellent works like The Drama of Femi Osofisan: A Critical Perspective, The Biography of Sir Victor Uwaifo, Excursions in Drama and Literature, and Femi Osofisan: Interpretive Essays. These works, together with other essays in dramatic theory and criticism would have easily made him a Professor of Dramatic Literature, but because by training and academic orientation, he was an Arts Manager per excellence, having taken an MFA in the subject matter at the University of Georgia, Athens, U.S., he remained loyal to his first love till the end by taking a Professorial Chair in Theatre Arts (with Theatre Management and Arts Administration as specialties).
The book in review, Perspectives on Theatre Management, Arts Administration and Entrepreneurship in Nigeria, is a 30-chapter book divided into seven sections. Readers need to know the key themes which are explored in the seven sections: they include Managing Your Life (Chapters 1-3), Events Management (Chapters 4-7), Managing Arts Institutions (Chapters 8-12), Marketing Concepts (Chapters 13-15), Fund Raising and Audience Development (Chapters 16-17), Promotion, Public Relations and Advertising (Chapters 18 -23) and Entrepreneurship (Chapters 24-30). The broad range of art-related fields of management covered by the book makes it tailored-made for prospective theatre managers and arts administrators. Like his first book, on the subject matter, Managing Arts Institutions in Nigeria, this work appears to be his magnum opus on the subject matter.
The first section which deals with the theme of self-management is a very good area to start, with respect to building self-confidence and taking personal responsibility for one’s actions, including the all important issue of financial responsibility, which the author has taken pains to examine exhaustively. This portion of the book, Chapter Two, to be specific, is a bulls-shot in the book. It is a must read by anybody who wants to learn about the importance of savings and investment, how to manage impulsive financial recklessness, avoid borrowing to consume, tracking one’s spending pattern, in fact, all the thirty-two steps to financial independence are fully examined in this chapter. This section of the book is then sealed, with the treatment of the issue of how to be a better manager. Chapter Three examines in details the various types of Theatre Managers, from the Producer, Board of Directors, Board of Trustees, Executive Director, General Manager, Artistic Director, Producing Manager, Managing Producer, Actor Director, Impresario, Director of Theatre, Business Manager, Production Manager, Company Manager, Advice Manager, House Manager, etc. In fact, this chapter deals with the Fundamentals of Theatre Management or Theatre Management 101.
The second section of the book deals with the subject matter of Events Management, a new field of study, which is fast selling and fast displacing Theatre Management. The chapter provides a working definition of Events Management in terms of how to plan events, develop events goals and objectives, tabulating the various organizing committees in event management, financial planning, setting a date, choosing a venue, insurance, traffic management, branding the event, incident management, public health, public safety, promotion and marketing, etc.
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