Since its inception in 2008, the National Arts Competition (NAC) has grown steadily to become the most consistently important art competition in the West African region. With an emphasis on promoting new art forms alongside the more traditional, the competition has unearthed and nurtured emerging and established
artists across Nigeria. Last year the winning artists were rewarded with $30, 000 in cash prizes, made possible through its long term partners, Nigerian Breweries Plc., a subsidiary of Heineken in the Netherlands.
The competition is structured such that as well as the cash prizes it also provides artists with extra training and support through workshops led by local and international art professionals, critiques, writers and artists residency programmes. Furthermore, winning artists have seen a surge in interest in their works reflected by record sales at art auctions. Last year all 3 winners from the 2011 edition were featured in Nigeria’s premier Art Auction organized by ArtHouse, selling for substantial prices.
A change in the structure of the competition, implemented last year shifts emphasis from “Process to
Product, has already had some unexpected results, the 3 finalists, Chike Obeagu (joint 1st prize
winner), Chris Echeta and Erasmus Onyishi, who met at the workshop during last year’s retreat, teamed up to create and head a new art department in the Federal University Lafia in Nassarawa
State, in Northern Nigeria. The previous edition’s first prize winner Chike Obeagu explains:
“It was during our retreat in November 2011 at Abraka Turf that we nurtured the idea to be a part of the pioneer team that will start up the new Arts Department at Federal University Lafia (FUL). I’m
intensely fascinated by being a part of the pioneer lecturing team at Federal University Lafia even though we are greatly faced with the challenge of contracting the already existing academic gap in Northern Nigeria. My primary interest to lecture in FUL is to nurture students who will be well equipped intellectually and can compete favorably in the art circle in Nigeria and anywhere in the world”
Following on from 2011’s edition this year’s program aims to further develop this creative approach with a view to contributing to the intellectual content of artistic thought and processes and to nurture
particular, often-neglected skill sets in the art community. The competition is also occasion for reflection on contextual issues of national interest with the inaugural edition themed “The Unbreakble
Nigerian Spirit” to this year’s “Consequences.”interested artists are to submit a brief written proposal expatiating their creative approach to interpreting the theme “Consequences” in their chosen medium. Once more, all artistic genres qualify including painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media, installation
and video art. Based on the submissions, the AAF selection committee headed by Prof. El Anatsui will assess all submitted entries and shortlist a total of 12 finalists. Deadline for submission is 10th July. Shortlisted artists will be invited to partake in a week-long workshop, led by industry professionals, at an exclusive resort in Nigeria. It is at this workshop that the proposed works will be created. All works created at the workshop will be exhibited and judged by a panel of judges at the Grand Finale event and exhibition to be held in Lagos, Nigeria.