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Live Nation and OVG back Africa’s first arena

Africa’s first purpose-built arena is set to open in Lagos, Nigeria, at the end of next year.

The $100 million arena will have capacity for 12,000 and is projected to host 200 events each year, including concerts, family entertainment, basketball games, UFC fights, boxing matches, WWE shows and more.

The venue will be located on Victoria Island, an affluent area that serves as the main business and financial centre of Lagos.

The consortium delivering the project includes Live Nation, Oak View Group, Tayo Amusan (chairman of real estate company The Persianas Group), the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, Yinka Folawiyo (chairman of the Yinka Folawiyo Group), Nigerian investment fund Adino Capital and MBO Capital. The conglomerate today held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site.

“Nigerian artists are some of the most influential in the world right now and yet they have nowhere to play in their home market,” says Oak View Group chairman and CEO, Tim Leiweke. “We want to change that. This consortium, headed by Tayo Amusan, has shown enormous tenacity and entrepreneurial spirit in getting this project off the ground and we are proud to be their partner. The arena will also give major brands – both global and local – the chance to showcase to Nigerian audiences for the first time at over 200 electrifying events per year.”

“Nigerian artists are some of the most influential in the world right now and yet they have nowhere to play in their home market”

John Reid, president of Live Nation EMEA, adds: “We are incredibly excited to be part of the consortium delivering this groundbreaking arena in Lagos. Nigeria and Africa more broadly present massive opportunities to touring artists when it comes to connecting with their global audiences. This brand new 12,000 capacity venue will open up Nigeria to international stars, and Nigerian artists will benefit hugely from having an arena to showcase their talents in front of a home audience.”

While Nigerian superstars such as Burna Boy, Davido and Wizkid continue to fill arenas and stadiums across the world, their home country lacks the venues needed to match their success.

Until now, artists have had to perform at hotel complexes such as Eko Convention Center (cap. 6,000) and Balmoral Convention Center (4,500) in Lagos, according to the Global Arena Guide 2023.

For larger concerts, temporary venues are built in outdoor spaces such as Muri Okunola Park on Victoria Island and Tafawa Balewa Square, a former horseracing track in the centre of the commercial district and the spot where Nigerians celebrated their independence in 1960.

The new Lagos arena will develop ancillary businesses around entertainment and sports and is expected to create over 1,500 direct and indirect jobs.

The first-of-its-kind venue will serve Nigeria’s young and rapidly growing population of over 220 million.


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Global Citizen returns with Paris, NY, Nigeria shows

Global Citizen Live has announced the line-ups for the upcoming benefit concerts in New York, Paris and Lagos, Nigeria, which will raise funds to combat poverty and provide greater access to Covid-19 vaccines.

The three concerts will take place on 25 September, alongside simultaneous events in London, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul, Los Angeles, Sydney and more cities still to be announced. The Global Citizen Live events, which will be broadcast live around the world, are part of of Global Citizen’s ‘Recovery Plan for the World’, a year-long campaign which calls on governments, philanthropists and the private sector to commit financially to the global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Global Citizen Live follows previous Global Citizen events including Global Goal: Unite for Our Future, which took place last summer and raised funds for vaccine development, and 2021’s Vax Live, which focused on securing equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.

In New York, Coldplay, Billie Eilish, Camila Cabello, Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo, Meek Mill, Shawn Mendes, Alessia Cara, Burna Boy, Cyndi Lauper, Jon Batiste and Lang Lang will perform on the Great Lawn in Central Park, while the Paris event, held on the Champ de Mars, will feature Ed Sheeran, Doja Cat, DJ Snake, HER, Black Eyed Peas, Christine and the Queens and Angélique Kidjo. The Lagos concert (venue TBC) will include performances from Femi Kuti, Davido, Tiwa Savage and Made Kuti.

Coinciding with the UN general assembly preceding the G20 meeting (October) and Cop26 summit (November), Global Citizen Live focus will call on leaders to fund:

“This remains a global crisis … It will only end with global equitable access to vaccines”

Katie Hill, senior vice-president and head of music, entertainment and artist relations for Global Citizen, says: “Over the last year and a half, we’ve seen music bring communities together and inspire action during one of the most challenging times of our generation. We’re excited to join these incredible artists to unite people across the globe on 25 September as we hold world leaders and business leaders accountable to rectify the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. As we carefully resume Global Citizen’s live events, we couldn’t be more grateful to each of these artists for donating their time and performances to make an impact through this urgent campaign.”

David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Programme, adds: “Global Citizen’s support is critical as we all work together to reach the most vulnerable people and communities. We’re facing an unprecedented crisis in 2021: 41 million people have famine literally knocking at the door. The price tag to stop their suffering is about US$6 billion. We need funding and we need it now.”

“As wealthy countries are well on their way to reopening and returning to normal life, we now face a two-track pandemic of haves and have-nots,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, comments. “Over 75% of the more than 4bn doses administered to date have occurred in just ten countries, while only 1% of people in low-income countries have received a dose. We cannot disregard this gross inequity or become complacent.

“This remains a global crisis, with emerging variants emanating from under-vaccinated parts of the world continuing to threaten everyone’s lives and livelihoods. It will only end with global equitable access to vaccines and other life-saving medical supplies. That’s why I am pleased to support Global Citizen Live and join Global Citizen in their calls to public and private leaders to share the doses, financing, knowledge, technology and political solidarity needed to end this pandemic.”


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Headliners revealed for biggest-ever Gidi Fest

Gidi Culture Festival, the largest music and arts festival in West Africa, has announced Naira Marley, Flavour and Rema as the headliners for this year’s event, which is expanding to three days for 2020.

Taking place from 9 to 11 April at the 14.5-hectare Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos, the seventh edition of Gidi Fest has the theme of ‘Bringing it home’, celebrating the increasing numbers of people returning to the Nigerian city for the event.

Co-founded by Chin Okeke of promoter Eclipse Live, previous editions of the festival have featured the likes of Wizkid, Maleek Berry, Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Davido, Teni, Diplo and Moonchild Sanelly.

Naira Marley, who moved to the UK from Nigeria as a child, is making his Gidi Fest debut this year, following an appearance at Wizkid’s Starboy Fest at the O2 Arena (20,000-cap.) last year and a recent sold-out show at O2 Academy Brixton (5,000-cap.).

“To be considered the biggest and most long-standing festival in the region is an incredible achievement”

Teenage rapper Rema will kick the festival off on the first day with a bill focused on the sound of Nigerian youth., whereas multi-instrumentalist Flavour is set to head up the rhythm and soul-themed second day.

“2020 is all about bringing it home, whilst also throwing the most global cultural celebration for the Gidi Tribe yet, with a new venue, two extra days, and so much exciting and important music, art, food and games to share,” comments Gidi Fest and Eclipse Live co-founder Chin Okeke, who is speaking at the upcoming Futures Forum in London.

“It’s been a rewarding seven-year journey so far and and everything just keeps growing year on year, to now be considered the biggest and longest-standing festival in the region is an incredible achievement.

“We can’t wait to welcome more new people to Lagos than ever before, showcase the best creative artists in Africa, and show our thriving hometown of Lagos to the world this Easter.”

Fans can register for tickets and travel packages to Gidi Fest here.


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Gidi Culture Fest releases Lagos documentary

The brains behind Nigeria’s Gidi Culture Festival have launched #MyGidi, a mini-documentary about the city of Lagos.

The 20-minute video follows the journey of individuals including African Gqom and house artist Moonchild Sanelly, Ghanian hip hop act Joey B and New York-based singer-songwriter Bridget Kelly around the Nigerian city.

As part of Black History Month, #MyGidi was screened to audiences in Los Angeles, New York, London, Berlin and Lagos during October and November, before the online release.

Produced by Chin Okeke, co-founder of Gidi Fest promoter Eclipse Live and Alex Duncan of 84 Projects, #MyGidi expands on a six-part web series released in January 2019, which was created during an excursion in Easter 2018 by four international content creators.

“Providing the opportunity for discovery, enlightenment, culture and experience, #MyGidi is something everyone in the diaspora should experience”

“The ability to have access to Africa is something I don’t take lightly,” comments Duncan. “The quest for my own understanding as a member of the African Diaspora is something I realised I needed to share with others.

“Providing the opportunity for discovery, enlightenment, culture and experience, I believe #MyGidi is something everyone in the diaspora should experience.”

Okeke adds: “This project has changed my life. Understanding how different all our black stories are and how important it is that we are more accepting and empathetic about them.

“I’ve been moved by how it has inspired others and even more so how it has motivated us to take charge of our narrative because it will heal.”

Gidi Fest, the largest music festival in west Africa, is returning in Easter 2020 for its 7th edition, expanding from a one-day event into a four-day festival.


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‘People say, “Is that Coachella? I didn’t know they had festivals like that in Africa…”’

Chin Okeke – one of the men behind arguably the most important of Africa’s new breed of music festivals – has spoken of the growing appetite for live music in the last major frontier for the international concert business.

Eclipse Live co-founder Okeke, who established Gidi Culture Festival in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2014, has seen great success with what he calls a festival created “for Africa”, by Africans – but which is also increasingly attracting both patrons and performers from further afield, reflecting broader changes in the African market.

Historically, for touring artists, “Africa was always just a big paycheque,” Okeke tells IQ. “You get in, get your money and get out. It was never about the growth potential.”

That, says Okeke, is changing, owing to a new generation of entrepreneurs who are focused on creating a sustainable touring infrastructure in the emerging African market.

“Ten years ago every promoter had connections to either the government or to big brands,” he explains, “putting on million-dollar shows” for top-level acts – often as a money-laundering exercise – while largely ignoring the building blocks of the industry. “But the new wave is interested in building up the ecosystem.”

While Nigeria, and west Africa more widely, still have their share of “brand activations, weddings and corporate events”, Okeke says there is a growing recognition that side of the market “isn’t the core of the business” – although, he adds, it’s still a challenge to persuade artists “not to always go for the highest-paid gigs”, which are largely brand-backed corporate affairs. Gidi Culture has a one-month exclusivity clause; as Okeke explains, “No one wants to pay to see if you if you’ve just played for free at a club or a Heineken event.”

Gidi Culture, often dubbed ‘Coachella in Lagos’, brings together some of the biggest names in African music, alongside select interested outsiders – most notably, in 2017, American EDM superstar Diplo.

“We can’t look at the West as a saviour. We’ve realised we don’t have to seek validation from anyone”

Selling tickets, Okeke reiterates, is “the sign of a real live music market. With ticket sales, the only risk is the fans: you’re not messing around meeting with brand managers, who can change jobs every month…”

Okeke reveals Gidi is yet to break even, although he hopes it will do so in a couple of years. Part of that process, he explains, is changing Nigerians’ buying habits: “Presales are a big deal. People used to just show up on the day, but that’s slowly changing. We sold just over 3,000 tickets in advance this year, which is a big deal for a market where, previously, you’d be lucky to sell anything before two days in advance.”

“The inability to break even, because of challenges along the value chain, has led us to develop other business opportunities,” he adds, “such as ticketing, venues, et cetera. Using our own ticketing platform, SeatGate, we sold over 40% of presale tickets for all our events in the last year.”

Returning to the topic of Gidi Culture’s international contingent, Okeke says: “Diplo’s doing a lot to drive African music forward. He did an African tour and he wanted to play. This year we didn’t have an international headliner, as [Nigerian afrobeats singer] Wizkid can headline in his own right, and we don’t want the only draw to be international acts.”

That reluctance to rely too heavily on input from outside Africa is a theme that pops up repeatedly throughout IQ’s conversations with Okeke, who says he once saw his and his colleagues’ mission as promoters to “change the perception the world has of us [Africans]”.

“There are a lot of interested and willing parties that see the opportunity in Africa,” he explains.”The fact that we can even have those conversations without me knocking on doors, and having to pitch – that’s a real step forward.

“But it comes down to the right partners. With Gidi Culture we’ve had interest from [a number of the big US agencies], and I say to them, ‘Give me someone who is interested in actually building the market’ – Diplo, for example.”

Ultimately, says Okeke, “it comes down to the artists. Where the artists want to go, the industry will follow.”

“There are a lot of interested and willing parties that see the opportunity in Africa”

In addition to Gidi Culture, and the events Eclipse produces for other people, which include Nigeria’s Palmwine Music Fest and Nativeland, Okeke says his focus is on building a sustainable touring network throughout Africa. “They won’t be big arenas and stadia, like in South Africa, but we’re looking at smaller venues specifically for music.

“Some African acts can do 40,000-capacity stadia – Wizkid, Davido – but the production isn’t there: most countries can’t meet the riders for those larger acts. There’s also the safety and security aspect if you’re playing a venue that isn’t designed for those kind of shows, like a football stadium.”

For the next edition of Gidi Culture, Okeke is aiming for 10,000 people (it was 8,000 in 2018), with a long-term goal of 15,000 in the years ahead.

“There’s a lot of work to be done, but it’s moving in the right direction,” he comments. “Gidi is the most important festival for African music culture – and as afrobeats, and the African music movement, become more popular, people want to discover the origins of it.”

“What’s important,” Okeke concludes, “is that we can’t look at the West as a saviour. We’ve realised we don’t have to seek validation from anyone. Once we wanted to change how people saw us, but now we’ve changed how see ourselves – and we’ve got a lot more attention as a result.

“People see live streams [of Gidi Culture] and say, ‘Is that Coachella? I didn’t know they had festivals like that in Africa…”

“Look at China ten years ago,” he adds, comparing Africa to another formerly underdeveloped market which is now poised for massive growth. “No one would go.

“And then Lady Gaga said, ‘Fuck it’, and the rest is history…”


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