Arts + Culture

#Goals: Bolanle Austen-Peters Is the Woman Behind West End's First Nigerian Musical

For our first installment of #Goals, we speak with Bolanle Austen-Peters about producing some of Nigeria's top musicals and running its premier arts and culture center, Terra Kulture.

During the month of August, we’ll be highlighting aspirational folks who are setting major #goals and achieving them, and asking them to share their stories and insight to help motivate us all to “live our best lives." 


These athletes, artists, fashionistas, scholars, entrepreneurs, and more, are a reminder to us all, that dreams are valid! 

We're kicking off the series with arts mogul and producer, Bolanle Austen-Peters. Read our conversation with her below:

After a high-flying career as an international lawyer, Bolanle Austen-Peters returned home to her native Nigeria to pursue her passion for art. In 2003, she founded Terra Kulture, Lagos’ premier arts and culture center, to celebrate Nigeria’s rich cultural traditions.

Over a decade later, Austen-Peters is now one of Nigeria’s foremost producers whose theatrical productions have received critical acclaim from Lagos to London. OkayAfrica spoke to Austen-Peters about her journey to success as she prepares to take her latest musical, Saro!, to London’s famed West End.

Image courtesy of Bolanle Austen-Peters.

Akinyi for OkayAfrica: You began as a lawyer before transitioning to the arts. What drew you to the arts first as a patron and then as a producer?

Bolanle Austen-Peters: During secondary school, I fell in love with reading rather than calculating. I have always wanted to dance and I loved theatre. In those days, however, you had to study a professional course, so I decided to study law. I continued to love the arts even while studying law.

After working all over the world for the United Nations as a lawyer, I returned to Nigeria and decided to follow my passion for arts promotion. In 2003, I set up Terra Kulture—first as an art gallery then as a cultural, lifestyle, and educational center. A few years later, I became a Producer and a Director and set up BAP Productions as a company that produces stage plays. Saro! The Musical was our first major production. Today, Terra Kulture is leading Nigeria’s cultural preservation. Since our launch, we’ve organized over 200 art exhibitions, 135 plays, 65 book readings, and over 10,000 people have attended our language classes. As Nigeria’s presence grows on the global stage, it’s essential that our history and culture be celebrated.

Image courtesy of Bolanle Austen-Peters.

OkayAfrica: At the outset, what was your biggest dream of what Terra Kulture could accomplish? Do you feel that you’ve achieved those goals, and how has the goalpost shifted?

Bolanle Austen-Peters: Initially, I simply wanted a space where I could create a platform for the promotion of visual arts, literature, theatre and basically every art form that identifies us as Nigerians. We keep pushing the envelope. Through team effort and hard work and by God’s grace, we have surpassed some of our expectations. We started one of the lead auction houses in partnership with Mydrim Gallery. We have tried our hands in movie making with the production of “No Good Turn”, a short movie, and 93 days featuring Danny Glover, Bimbo Akintola, and many other talented Nigerian actors. 93 days received over fifty nominations has won numerous awards both locally and internationally. It was selected for premiering and viewing at the Toronto Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival and the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, and the movie has been described by industry experts as "Powerful", "Incredible", "Best of Nigeria" and "a new dawn for Nigerian movies"

We have gone on to produce some of Nigeria’s finest stage plays including Saro! and Wakaa! The Musical, and broke boundaries as the first Nigerian musical to show in London’s West End. We keep working hard as there is so much to be done and, God willing, we hope to achieve even greater goals. We are also the first privately owned theatre in Lagos, Nigeria.

Image courtesy of Bolanle Austen-Peters.

OkayAfrica: Is there anything you wish you knew about arts and culture as a business before you found Terra Kulture?

Bolanle Austen-Peters: All businesses are the same. The same template that works for banking works for the arts. I had proper training from the London School of Business and Economics where I obtained a Master’s degree, so I went into the business of arts and culture armed with the requisite information. What I did not know, I learned on the job as an Executive Director.

OkayAfrica: Wakaa! The Musical was the first Nigerian musical to come to London’s West End. How did you convince people to embrace your vision, and why do you think it was such a success?

Bolanle Austen-Peters: Over the past fourteen years, we have built a brand associated with excellence. With that, it’s easy to find partners willing to embrace my vision. Wakaa! The Musical is based on relatable stories based on our polity and lives. It is a political satire that brings color, precision in choreography, stellar acting, and elegant costumes. At Terra Kulture, we focus on flawless execution, so people already know that, it’s high-quality and that is why I think it was a resounding success. Wakaa! was the first Nigerian musical to go international, and Saro! The Musical is also coming to London this August. Shows are already quickly selling out.

OkayAfrica: What is one opportunity you would still like to pursue, and why?

Bolanle Austen-Peters: I would like to produce a lot more movies. We need to own our narratives and showcase our works for global consumption. In addition, we keep producing bigger and better stage plays and musicals to enable us create more jobs and develop the skills of young talent.

Style

OkayAfrica and B4Bonah Share New 'B4Beginning' Capsule Collection

We've teamed up with the Ghanaian artist ahead of the release of his debut project for some colorful new merch.

Rising Ghanaian star B4Bonah, premieres his catchy debut track "See Body," and to mark the song's release, OkayAfrica has teamed up with the artist to share a new collection of tees, that'll fit nicely into your summer wardrobe.

The artist's latest track is a party jam, that sees him flowing "over an earworm flute melody and afrobeats percussion," using "his rasping flow to celebrate the girl of his dreams." The track was produced by J.Rocs.

B4Bonah - See Body www.youtube.com

In conjunction with the song's release, two new shirt designs are available for preorder at our Okayshop. The vibrant shirts feature the artist's image on colorful blue and green colored blocks, with the words "B4BONAH B4BEGINNING," on the back—referencing the artist's debut mixtape, which is slated for release in late July. The project features Medikal, Mugeez (R2Bees), Amaarae & Ivy Sole.


B4Bonah is an artist to watch, as he continues to make his presence known in the Ghanaian music scene.

Watch the music video for "See Body" above, and head to shop.okayplayer.com now to pick up to pre-order a shirt (or two). You can also preorder B4Bonah's B4beginning mixtape here.

popular

Watch EL, Joey B and Falz' New Video for 'Ehua'

Ghana meets Nigeria in this hilarious new clip.

Ghanaian rappers EL and Joey B connect with Nigeria's Falz for this addictive new collaboration and music video for "Ehua."

"Ehua" is built on energetic afro-electronic beat work produced by EL himself. Joey B handles the hook while Falz kicks things off early with a solid verse.

The eye-catching and hilarious music video for the single, directed by Yaw Skyface, features EL as a policeman, Falz as the 'oga' bossman, and Joey B as a worker for the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

Falz takes Joey B's woman by showing off his money and status, so Joey B enlists policeman EL to get back at Falz. The plan backfires however as the officer decides to stick around and party with the rich instead of helping the everyday worker out.

For more GH hits check out our Best Ghanaian Songs of the Month roundups and follow our GHANA WAVE playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Watch the new music video for EL, Joey B and Falz' "Ehua" below.

EL ft Joey B & Falz - Ehua (Official Video) youtu.be


News Brief
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

Nigeria's Super Falcons Were Forced To Threaten a Sit-In Protest Over Unpaid Bonuses After Women's World Cup

After negotiations, the Nigerian Football Federation have agreed to run the players their money.

Nigeria's own Super Falcons had a great run during the Women's World Cup. But instead of the players heading back home or to their respective professional clubs after losing to Germany 3-0, they were forced to strong-arm the Nigerian Football Federation to pay what they're owed.

According to ESPN's initial report over the weekend, the Super Falcons threatened to stage a sit-in protest at their hotel in France until all of their unpaid bonuses dating back to two years ago were paid, along with their World Cup allowances and bonuses.

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