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Gov. Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos State on Sunday says the state will support the concept of bringing the National Theatre back to life.
The governor made this known when he joined the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to inspect the edifice at Iganmu, Lagos.
He said the state would collaborate with Federal Government to uplift the national monument and restore its past glory.
The governor added that the rehabilitation of the edifice was not an investment for the state but a support for rebirth of national heritage.
He stressed that the dividend of such support would not be in the immediate but for a very long term.
He said “I am here at the National Theatre in continuation of my collaboration and partnership with the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture.
“We both believe that we must join hands together to uplift our national monuments, irrespective of where we are working.
“As part of our own vision, we have always said that we will use arts and culture to promote national heritage and this visit is just one of those visits.”
Ambode said he had come to see personally, the state of the National Theatre and had seen that it was not as bad as he thought.
He expressed belief that the right way to go was to collaborate with the minister to make sure that the place became functional.
According to him, it will not only be for the Lagos people but for the sake of the arts industry and to sustain the country’s heritage.
The governor said Lagos, like other parts of the country, as well as the international community, would gain tremendously if the National Theatre became functional.
The information minister said he was excited and fulfilled that the collaboration of his ministry with the state was yielding fruits.
He said “I cannot be happier today that I have got the firm commitment of the governor that he is going to partner with Federal Government to bring back the National Theatre to what it used to be.
“I see this as a hand of friendship between the state and Federal Government in the area of reviving the creative industry.
“This is the first major step in transforming the creative industry to creative economy,’’ Mohammed said.
In an interview with newsmen, the acting General Manager of National Theatre, Mr George Uffot, said he was excited with the development and the rehabilitation would breathe life to the theatre.
Uffot said he had been talking to leading artists and associations on how to increase traffic to the theatre and he had received positive responses.
He added that “I discovered that artists and associations abandon this place because of the lack of infrastructure like water, light and toilet facilities.
“Some also felt that the cost of the place is too high and we are working on how to reduce the cost to bring in people here for shows and performances.”
The Lagos State governor, the minister and some stakeholders in the entertainment industry inspected the 580 each capacity cinema halls one and two and the 1,200 capacity Banquet hall in the edifice.
They also inspected the 3,500-capacity main bowl of the theatre, the VIP lounge and the exhibition lobby.
The Lagos State Government had offered to renovate the main bowl of the theatre, the two cinema halls, the exhibition lobby and the banquet hall as part of its collaboration with Federal Government.