Museums management, curators meet to chart way forward
The Acting Director General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Alhaji Abdulkarim O. Kadiri, last week, gathered the management staff and curators of the commission from across the country to a brainstorming session.
Beyond the staff of the commission, invitation was also extended to the private sector operators, whose contributions were considered indispensable if the commission was to survive the lingering funding crises.
Thus, the three-day event, which held in Nasarawa State, focused on how to reposition the parastatal for revenue generation.
It also served to evaluate some of the challenges confronting the commission with a view to addressing them through combined efforts of all stakeholders, including the media.
With poor funding identified as the strongest impediments to the activities and programmes of museums across the country, the acting D.G., in his presentation, highlighted some of the measures the commission could adopt to up its revenue base as captured by the Act establishing it.
According to the Act, the commission, beyond its yearly budgetary allocation, is equally empowered to raise funds as fees charged to services rendered. It can also be funded through endowments.
A chartered accountant by profession, Kadiri has since his appointment late 2018, exhibited high sense of commitment towards financial viability of museums like its counterparts across the world.
Noting that some curators generate more revenue than others due to availability of manpower and infrastructure, he, nevertheless, tasked all of them to embrace hardwork and right attitude to service.
Deeply pained by the level of apathy exhibited by head of stations, the museum boss threatened that disciplinary action awaited any curator that was found culpable of infractions.
On his part, he pledged to project the Commission as an attractive bride for all.
In his presentation titled, Towards revenue generation for sustainable museum development, Kadiri stated that through visual reality, NCMM would project and market Nigeria via online access.
He said: “We want to see how we can put Nigerian museums on a top pedestrian in Africa and Western museums.
“Nigerian monuments and heritage sites are very rich and among the most valued and respected artifacts all over the world. What we have been lacking is adequate publicity.
“Like I stated earlier, our funding is dwindling and that is the reason we are here to discuss how we can create the necessary awareness about our heritage, sites and artifacts so they can be appreciated.”
Adding: “After that, we intend to produce in commercial quantity, artworks in our Arts and Craft Village to sell and raise funds.”
The D.G decried situation, where most people perceive the museum as a dead place “but I have been working with the commission for the past 13 years and as a chartered accountant, I know that we can market and sell most of the artworks produced by the museums to boost the Gross Domestic Product of this country.”
Already, he has brought the commission into partnership with the private sector on digitisation of museums and monuments.
“We are partnering with a private company that is going round to all our museums in the 36 states of the federation to take digital images of our artifacts and monuments in all the museums and natural heritage sites.
“At the completion of the project, we should be able to showcase them on virtual image platforms where people can log into, pay a fee and learn to appreciate our culture.
“The virtual reality platform will create a museum without walls, whereby people can sit in the comfort of their houses and visit our museums and monuments all over the country.”
He summed up with an admonition that for the Commission to remain relevant in the scheme of things; there was an urgent need for a paradigm shift.
“We require some financial-re-engineering in order to improve our internally generated revenue. To do this, we have set up a strategic business and cultural empowerment units with the mandate to evaluate all possible areas of the commission that we can maximize our revenue as well as block potential and inherent financial and material leakages.”
And when the floor was opened, curators commended the initiative and pledged their support to ensure that the Commission is restored on the path of socio-economic viability.
Earlier, the chairperson, Board of NCMM, Umma Dambo Mamma-Da, emphasised the importance of the retreat on the participants.
She revealed that at the end of the exercise, every curator, board member and management staff of the Commission would go back, reinvigorated and ready to implement some of the lessons learnt.
Mamma-Da further described museum as a very vital aspect of the country as it holds in stock, the people’s history and culture.
“The museums represent the culture and history of the people. We have materials and artifacts dating centuries back. We have relied solely on oil and gas in the past but with the dwindling oil price, our governments is now seeking means of diversifying to other sectors of the economy.
“Culture and tourism have proven to be very viable means of generating revenue and that is the reason we are here to see how we can develop the tourism sector using arts, culture as products.
“As civil servants, we now have to put on our thinking caps, be proactive and look at how we can move our parastatal forward by thinking through the digitalization of our museums. This is very imperative because the world has become a global village and people expect to log onto a website and see everything we have about Nigerian culture.”
The board chair also raised hopes that very soon; the long awaited museum of national unity would be a reality. According to her, talks are ongoing to see if some of the houses seized from alleged corrupt people will be converted to museums.
Her words: “Presently, work is in progress on the Abuja museum. We have some options, one of which is for the government to release some properties seized from corrupt people and get them converted to a museum.
“So, we are working to see if we can find a property that fits into the structure of a national museum in Abuja. Otherwise, we had a land which was revoked but we have already written to the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and he is working towards allocating another plot of land in a strategic location, where we would then enter into a Private/Public Partnership to build a Museum of national unity in Abuja.”
On his part, the Acting Director, Educational Services and Training, Dr. Carolyn Eze Okeke, believed that lots of strategies have to be adopted to make the museum financially sustainable. She however commended the Acting D.G for the opportunities provided by the retreat.
According to her, with over 48 curators in attendance, it was time to sit back and appraise the past and think of how to improve in the future.
“We have to sit back, look at how far we have come and look at where we want to be within the next two, three years. That is one of the reasons the curators and management staff have come together to restrategise on how to improve our IGR.”
A paper titled, ‘Achieving Museum Mandate through Public Private Partnership Model was delivered by a former management staff of the Commission, Emmanuel O. Metuaghan.
In his presentation, Metuaghan listed some gains in engaging the private sector. He also listed some of the inherent opportunities that could be explored to make the commission financially viable.
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