Why Nigerian Entertainment Awards Need Validation From Education

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ARTSIdeas & Innovation

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International performers who have the accolades beginning with those alphabets are distinguished as among the best. Other admirable awards from BET, MTV and Critics are also cheered, but the EGOT is IT.

In fashion, the Met Gala is the show of the year. With its theme around the “Catholic imagination”, this year’s event, catechetical to some, blasphemous to many, reminded just how much communication fashion does.

The Pulitzer prizes were announced last month. It is regarded as the crowning jewel of impactful journalism (in America), providing motivation for investigative, informative and insightful verbal craftsmanship. It’s not just for journalists though; Kendrick Lamar brought the music category of the awards to greater consciousness this year by becoming the first outside jazz or classical music to win a Pulitzer.

And then, there are the Headies.

The 12th edition of Nigeria’s longest running art/entertainment award show took place last weekend. Simisola, that incredible body of work, was deservedly awarded the Album of the year. Davido swept his categories. Wizkid got awards, and artistes who deserved honourable mentions got their due. They had an award for industry legend 2face too.

It was an okay exhibit and celebration. But after twelve years, something is still lacking in these kinds of shows which, if not fixed, could make them lose their significance: foundation.

As with the Soundcity MVPs held in January, the Headies is organised by an independent TV station. The tension and competition between both was sampled last Saturday when Soundcity chose the Headies red carpet period as a good time to replay their January event. The danger is that performers hoping for awards become the pawns of a contest, a scenario which will inevitably damage the value of the plaques however awe-inspiring or gold-cast they may be.

Point being the rewards circuit of Nigerian entertainment needs foundation beyond the platform of snoopy sisters, each with a propensity for turning up the stereo volume when the other sings in the shower. This foundation, ideally, should be vested in an institution that is actively and substantially structured to promote standards, excellence and innovation in the different fields of entertainment. Every one of the EGOT is awarded by an academy of arts and/or sciences: Emmy for television, Grammy for music, Oscar for movies and Tony for theatre.

Same institutional validation makes the Met Gala – a show of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum for Art – enthusiastically followed. The Pulitzers may have been initiated by the will of an individual but it is administered by Columbia University. That’s what has made it relevant as a gold standard since 1917.

Any objective assessment of the worth of awards issued by individual media houses and longstanding Institutions will obviously tip majesty to icons blessed by groups, especially when those institutions are created to advance innovation and strengthen community.

That is lacking here. It’s May and we have not had this year’s AMVCAs (Calls for submission have been made; awards to hold September 1). It is a situation relevant stakeholders, including government and the academia, should be seeking to address, even as it is now evident that the Nigerian music, movie and fashion industry is on an irreversible path to indispensability in the international market and in contributing to the economy.

Money will always be good reward for art but the business of appreciation needs to also be right on the mark. Music and art affects education; it’s time for institutionalised innovation to start affecting art too.

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By Alexander O. Onukwue | Follow @inquizimedia on Facebook and Twitter

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