As far as theatre and the arts go in Lagos, Terra Kulture is the hub of all things artsy. In a town that boasts of a new 'hot joint' every other month, Terra Kulture has managed to retain its 'hotness' for 10 years now. It was hinged on this success I sought to find out what makes the place tick and why it attracts the burgeoning Lagos young, upwardly mobile.
In the space of an hour spent there, no fewer than 5 expatriates walked through the door and it was easy to see why such a place would hold an appeal for expatriates, Terra Kulture is unapologetic in its Nigerian-ness. Spotting an ethnic decor which features a generous and creative use of bamboo sticks and calabashes, Terra Kulture gives off a clear Afrocentric vibe without being pretentious.
Established in 2003 with the support of deceased Managing Director/Founder, Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB), Tayo Aderinokun, Terra Kulture was primarily set up to "promote the richness and diversity of Nigerian languages, arts and culture". Today it sits as a major cultural hub in not just Lagos, but Nigeria.
Boasting a restaurant, book store, arts gallery and a theatre hall which sits between 200 and 250 people, Terra Kulture offers wide array of activities including plays on every given Sunday and live music sessions on Fridays. The centre also houses a reading room and virtual office for folks either studying for exams or looking for a work space to operate out of.
In addition to all of this, it also started an auction house in 2009 with the aim of "stimulating activity and growth in the Nigerian secondary art market". To this end, its been able to boost growth in the primary art market. It also helps in valuation of works and promoting price stability. Not to mention, the numerous cultural orientation programs which the centre has conducted for embassies, foreign missions and even schools.
A stroll through the book store reveals a wide collection of Nigerian works from the usual suspects like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and Chimamanda Nogzi Adichie to new generation authors like Seun Salami. But even more interesting are the fashion/householde items which are on display - bags, gadget covers and wicker baskets are just some of the wholly Nigerian items which will tickle a shopper's fancy.
Perhaps what resonates most with Terra Kulture (asides its really good food!) is its active promotion of the Nigerian theatre/film industry. Not only does Terra Kulture feature a play every Sunday, it has also recently ventured into promoting Nigerian movies through corporate private screenings.
With a total of over 200 art exhibitions, 7 art auctions, 90 plays and 60 book readings, its no wonder Terra Kulture is regarded as Lagos' front-line arts and cultural centre. Cocktails and live music, anyone?