By Isaac Olamikan, Senior Correspondent, Benin
As Edo State prepares to host the 2019 edition of the National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST) scheduled to hold in Benin City, bronze casters and other stakeholders in the hospitality and tourism sectors are strategising on how to attract over 2,000 art lovers and culture enthusiasts expected to be in the state for the event.
A cross-section of bronze casters on Igun Street, Benin City, which is famous for bronze casting and a popular tourist site, said they are fully prepared to take advantage of the opportunity of the state hosting the event to make brisk sales.
Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Osazee Osemwegie-Ero, said the state government is putting the necessary logistics in place to ensure the seamless hosting of the event.
He noted that if the ongoing renovation work on the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium is completed ahead of the 2019 NAFEST, the opening ceremony will hold at the stadium, while the University of Benin Sports Complex will serve as the alternate venue for hosting the opening ceremony.
“The Oba Akenzua Cultural Centre will be the festival village. We intend to make the festival take full advantage of streets between Sokponba Road and Igbesanmwan. They will be open only for pedestrians.”
A bronze caster, Samuel Uyi, said most bronze casters are ready to give discounts to encourage tourists visiting the state for the event, to purchase their bronze works.
He said, “We are fully prepared for the 2019 NAFEST holding in the state from October 19 to October 26. We have improved our production of bronze which we plan to put on display during the event. Some of these works are already on display in most stores here on Igun Street.”