The French have a new culture centre in Lagos.
In terms of the facilities it has, we are inclined to recall the last time the French held sway in the cultural life of the city.
The new place, sponsored by the Nigerian businessman Mike Adenuga, and located in Osborne Estate in Ikoyi, boasts, according to its managers-the Alliance Francaise- :
- a world class Art gallery,
- a French restaurant & daily fresh bakery,
- a state of the art Cinema,
- Artists’ studios,
- an outdoor Amphitheatre,
- a Library and e-Library,
- 9 fully equipped French language classrooms,
- translation and interpretation service,
This takes us back to 1998, when the French Cultural Centre was part of the heartland of art and culture activities in Lagos.
Located right in the centre of Kingsway Road, it had an advantage of accessibility over other European Cultural Centres, notably the Goethe Institut, which competed with it in terms of the many activities it featured.
The FCC, which collaborated with Alliance Francais, hosted book readings, film exhibitions, visual art shows and featured live performances of upcoming artistes, apart from the French Language teaching, which was its raison d’être
When it moved out of Kingsway Road in, it was suggested that the less accessibility it had at the new place on Ruxton Street, off Glover Road, meant a loss of visibility.
But that’s not only what happened. The new place on Ruxton, just didn’t have the space to do the range of things that Kingsway Road offered.
For 13 years, the French had become less influential in the arts of the city. In that time, the idea that a European culture centre provided the main spaces for the city’s elite culture workers to display their craft, had gone to seed. There have emerged Terra Kulture, and Freedom Park, which have added to spaces like Bogobiri.
Will this brand new multipurpose space, run by the French, change the narrative?
One challenge is that Osborne is not exactly Kingsway Road. It’s somehow tucked out of sight. But the popularity of the space will depend on the robustness of the programming.
The owners are calling the site, “the best location ever in Ikoyi!”
We shall see.