Cultural performance by Naill O’leary School of Irish Dance at the 12th Annual New York City Multicultural Festival at New York
A U.S.-based culture and tourism expert, Ms Joyce Adewumi, has advised the Nigerian government to prioritise investment in the tourism sector to rebrand the country and boost its economy.
Adewumi told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York on the sidelines of the 12th Annual New York City Multicultural Festival, that investment in Nigeria’s under-utilised tourism sector had huge potential for returns.
The Nigerian-American is a founder of the New York African Chorus Ensemble, Chairperson for the Arts and Culture Committee in Manhattan Community Board 9 and the vice president of the 30th Precinct Community Council.
Adewumi, who is also the cultural ambassador for the Nigeria House, New York, also charged elected officials on the need to invest in arts and culture.
“There are so many economic benefits of investing in arts and culture because this kind of (New York City multicultural) festival can give entrepreneurs opportunities to build their brands.
“By this, economic returns will be greater than the investment. I need them to understand that if they invest in the community, in the arts, in the culture, the returns will be greater.
“Also, there is a psychological benefit; arts and culture relieve people of stress,” she said.
Adewumi said “there is a study that was done by American for Arts in terms of economic returns for New York and the City got 12 million dollars back for two million dollars invested in Arts.”
For the U.S. in general, the value of arts and cultural production in America in 2019 was 919.7 billion dollars, amounting to 4.3 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“The arts contribute more to the national economy than construction, transportation and warehousing, travel and tourism, mining, utilities, and agriculture industries.
“You can imagine the percentage. It is very profitable to invest in culture. Do you know how many tourists come to watch our festival alone?” Adewumi asked.
Ademumi, who is also the National Director of Arts and Culture, Nigerian- American Public Affairs Committee (NAPAC), said arts could also be used to promote the good image of the country.
“It is a community building tool; it gives people the opportunity to break down the stereotype that they have against one other.
“It brings everyone together to showcase their culture, giving them the opportunity to talk to one another and by so doing, creating better understanding of other people.
“For instance, people who have negative perception about the police see how we have engaged them; they performed at our festivals.
“Imagine, if it were to be in Nigeria, if the police were to be involved in this kind of festival and getting to know people, it will even help them in community policing,” she said.
She lamented Nigeria’s inability to tap into its tourism sector, saying, “we have so much in Nigeria that we are not utilising.”
Adewumi said she had been promoting Nigerian arts by producing a film, titled “We Are the Endless Roar” to showcase the rich tourism potential of Nigeria.
“I took some tourists to the sacred water in Nigeria – the Osun-Osogbo River Festival for them to appreciate the natural resources and thousands of tourists have gone there.
“But, we are not appreciating what we have that could generate so much money and goodwill for the country; if we do, we will harness the potential of those tourist sites.
“I am working with some traditional rulers to bring some investors into Nigeria to assist in exploring those sites.
“If Nigerians are not interested in what they have; Americans are interested; we have so many amazing tourist sites in Nigeria that we can showcase,” she said.