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‘I have always been a lover of the arts’

Yinlaifa Elodo is a community health worker and an art enthusiast, in this interview by KANGMWA GOFWEN she talks about the arts hub she is creating in Ibadan, Oyo State and the activities she has lined up.

Tell us about your Òkòlò art community.

Like the word Òkòlò which means voice and expression, the Òkòlò art community is a budding hub for all creative expression. It is a space to learn, grow and showcase craft. The community looks to present a home for artists of all kinds, develop art creation and appreciation as well as harness and preserve culture. The community facilitates online trainings and conversations surrounding issues as they affect artists, the arts, the environment and the world at large.

How do you scout for these talents?

In the Òkòlò space, we welcome all; the creators, enthusiasts, enjoyers, consumers, the curious. Our doors are open to all classes and genres of art. We believe in growth, from the “Eureka” moment when an idea is born to the last strokes that complete the process of creation. We believe in freedom of thought. We welcome it and urge for the growth and development of craft.

How did you come about this idea and why arts and culture?

I have always enjoyed the arts; from beautifully worded music to wittily written books and somewhere along the line, I was sucked in. I dreamt of writing my own books and singing my own songs. The older I got, the stronger the desire for expression became and so I started to write flash fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and even songs. Over time I have experienced the advantages of being in various communities and I would love to return as much as I have received and even more.

Do you have a replica of the community somewhere else or are you looking to expand it beyond Oyo state?

Well, although I have been a member of different communities over time, the Òkòlò art community which is just unfurling its petals here in Ibadan is the only one there is. It is a budding hub within which artists can meet and network, hone their art and have an avenue for showcasing their craft. As for growth and expansion, there is always room for it.

You are a graduate of Microbiology how come you have interest in arts?

It is true that I studied Microbiology, but I have always been a lover of the arts. As a seven year old, I wrote my first book. It was a crude production with an impossibly happy ending but in many ways, it was the beginning of my love for writing. Over the years I have written two novellas which I’m looking to get published this year, a couple of songs, a few poems and short stories. My pieces have been published in a few magazines and I have written as a regular contributor on other platforms.

Are you channeling all your work towards arts or is this just a side hobby?

While I currently work as a Community health worker, I believe that art and the expressions of art are life; from the beauty in the mundane to the flamboyance of the extravagant

How long have you been working to put this community together?

To a certain extent, I would say that I’ve always been on this journey. I’ve always sought out an artistic space and community.

What is the motivation for artists to join your community?

The Òkòlò art community provides a platform for artists to network, hone their craft, learn new skills, and showcase their craft as well. So, I believe these are motivation enough for them to join the community.

Do you have any program around the corner that would bring these talents together?

Although the community is digital right now, we will be launching the physical arm of it soonest and for that we will have the maiden edition of our Showcase nights. The first of these showcase nights will roll out soonest. It will be a robust program which will celebrate the talents, art and culture vibrant within Ibadan and its environs. As a community, we aim to have these monthly showcases and hopefully with better funding, create more avenues for physical trainings and development projects for community members and the society as a whole.

Do you work with all artists or are there particular talents you look out for?

All artists are welcome in the Òkòlò art community. We hope to have a robust community where all kinds of artists can create freely.

What would a 10 million grant do for this community?

A 10 million grant would help the community grow immensely. It would solve several high expense concerns such as:

Enable the community to acquire a physical space and equipment to hold the monthly showcase nights.

Enable the community build its own studios for training members, which will also serve as a ready resource for members’ creation.

Enable the community finance a volunteer/internship and empowerment program

Enable the community carry out community outreaches and other impactful programs that build art appreciation and preservation of culture in Ibadan and environs.

Help expand the coverage of the community’s programs to other locations thereby increasing the art culture and creative space across the country.

Help give a more robust content to the community’s programs and a host of other things.

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