By Prisca Sam-Duru
For a decade now, the old British colonial prison turned entertainment hub in Lagos, which was commissioned in 2010 by then governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola, has been committed to transforming the Park into a deliberate hub for creative endeavours.
And to celebrate its 10th anniversary, the management of Freedom Park has rolled out scintillating activities holding throughout 2020.
At a press conference held Friday, co-founder of Freedom Park, Iyabo Aboaba, said “We have come a long way to do wonders at ten. We started not knowing what Lagosians wanted. We however started with music and arts but as time went on, we discovered that people loved music and we began doing more of that. Then we added festival and now, we have about 12 festivals.”
Aboaba noted that the journey has not been an easy one but with support from corporate bodies and government, more will be achieved emphasising that “We are really struggling at the moment.”
The designer and CEO of Freedom Park, Architect Theo Lawson who described the park as a memorial space that documents activities revolving round imprisonment and execution of oppositions of the colonialists, said, “Freedom Park exists so that we can dig up stories and histories of those before us. The arts community was invited to be part of making the space thrive and we’ve done ten years already and evidently, we’ve achieved a reputation for Freedom Park as it has become an international brand to reckon with.”
The road to success of the Park according to Lawson, has not been without challenges. The major challenge he noted, has been inadequate funding to run a sustainable world class programme. Also, wear and tear as a result of aged infrastructure, low range season activities and attendance, parking facilities and inadequate support from statutory authority in provision of support services, and support referrals according to him, have all undermined the space.
The management of Freedom Park he disclosed, is bent on putting in more efforts to grow the Park better than it was ten years ago, and as such, an action plan is already in place. In addition to several festivals and performances that take place at the park which attract people from all walks of life, including children, Theo Lawson hinted that Freedom Park will now provide accommodation for artistes’ residency and will encourage more visual arts and cultural exhibitions. It is ready also to be at the fore front of promoting live music, the arts and social engagements etc.
High point of the conference include unveiling of the Park’s new logo and additional programmes aimed at taking the space to the next positive level.
Events lined up to celebrate the Park’s achievements include; ‘The Amazon Concert’, a musical show dedicated to womenfolk which comes up on 14th February; Irep International Documentary Film Festival which is also celebrating its 10th year anniversary, will hold in March. The Professor Soyinka’s week and Children’s Summer Camp begins in July. While Eko Theatre Festival takes place in August, the International Jazz Month which features Lagos International Jazz Festival, comes up in April.