WHEN ARTS AND CULTURE MEET TECHNOLOGY, result is Alewa House with how digital economy could spur Nigeria’s creative industry

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Matters eRising with Olusegun Oruame

Will the rise of Nigeria’s digital economy spur the creative industry? One hub in Jos, Plateau State, is in the trench to find answers. Alewa House, a creative hub, founded earlier this year in June, 2019 inside the city of some 900, 000 people, is bringing technology to harness the vast potential of the cultural and creative industries in Nigeria starting with Jos.

Jos Museum – once a famous hub for creative practitioners

Alewa, Hausa word for sweets or candies, is putting together digital tools, an army of geeks, and a networking arena for folks in the cultural and arts industries to open endless opportunities in a creative economy; or if you like, a digital creative economy.

Jos invokes tensions. Over a decade of political and social upheavals has left the city and its surroundings in turmoil. But Alewa House is helping to rework that narrative with a mission to provide young, talented and passionate artistes as well as producers with the platform to showcase their art to a global audience leveraging the power of human imagination and technology.

“Creative hubs … offer those living open spaces for culture and creativity programmes; they run agenda within community spaces allowing the flourishing of new ideas and innovation. There are more than 400 creative hubs worldwide and Jos just joined the list.”

For Chief Executive Officer, Alewa House, Daser Retnan, when arts and culture meets technology, the possibilities are endless and the outcomes are unpredictably remarkable. Retnan is a software developer and co-Founder of the geo-location solutions tech startup, Logical Address.

“I’m passionate about building the capacity of young people. I’m one of the persons instrumental towards the development of the tech space in Jos and now diversifying to improving and supporting the creative industries that have long been neglected over the years building on the power of technology,” added Retnan.

What do creative hubs do? They offer those living open spaces for culture and creativity programmes; they run agenda within community spaces allowing the flourishing of new ideas and innovation.

There are more than 400 creative hubs worldwide and Jos just joined the list. As one published research notes: “Creative hubs are often spaces for experimentation, artistic expression, peer-to-peer learning and incubation of ideas. They act as convenors, facilitating the transfer of knowledge and the cross pollination of different sectors and areas of expertise. This often leads to the creation of new value in goods, services and artistic practices – what some might call innovation.”

Alewa House is focusing on talent discovery and outsourcing; creating an environment with skilled enthusiastic young people thereby preventing a capital flight; opening inter-communal dialogue through arts, innovations and technology.

“Globally, the creative economy makes up no less than 3 per cent of the world’s GDP and employs 29.5 million people (CISAC, 2015), according to the BBC adding: “In the UK, the creative industry is the fastest growing sector and valued at £92 billion.”

Ultimately, it promotes individuality, creativity, innovation and narration,” said Retnan in Jos as the hub prepares a formal unveiling of its space.

“The creative hub adopts a multi-stakeholder approach to arts promotions, management and talent nurturing because we believe that everyone has a role to play in the narration building process. It’s because of this that the house seeks to fulfill its mandate to become the go-to place for entertainment and reduce capital flight by 50% before 2029,” said Retnan.

Globally, the creative economy makes up no less than 3 per cent of the world’s GDP and employs 29.5 million people (CISAC, 2015), according to the BBC adding: “In the UK, the creative industry is the fastest growing sector and valued at £92 billion.”

The hub has successfully unraveled the creative talents of Mr. Emmanuel Adeyemi (aka Adehkings), an afropop artiste signed with Alewa House, whose music centres on societal growth. It will be signing more in the weeks ahead.

Alewa House has also developed a software application to help bring together industry actors for maximum productivity. The hub recently hosted an event that had over 12, 000 people in attendance last October signifying its massive acceptance. According to Retnan, much of that awareness was built around the technology of the new media.

“Alewa House has also developed a software application to help bring together industry actors for maximum productivity. The hub recently hosted an event that had over 12, 000 people in attendance last October signifying its massive acceptance.”

From point of ideation to downstream impact, technology drives everything including discovering artistic individuals and creating the values across the entire creative chain. It is currently working on staging the biggest music festival in Nigeria in 2020 inside the city of Jos.

Retnan believes the show will reflect everything that is viable when arts, culture and technology meet to impact values whether social or economical or even political within the framework of a digital economy, 

Alewa House already has opened conversation with Facebook on the use of technology to broadcast live musical concerts in Virtual Reality (VR). This means that fans from all over the world can buy tickets to join live musical concerts beginning with Alewa Fest 2020. For the entertainment industry, Alewa House may just be the game changer in an industry perpetually in transition in the age of the click economy.


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