Bolanle Austen-Peters is the founder of Terra Kulture and Bolanle Austen Productions (BAP) Productions. She is a lawyer, a theatre and onscreen movie producer and director. She is an art enthusiast and has changed the perspective of the Nigerian theatre industry.
Bolanle Austen-Peters Background.
Bolanle Austen-Peters was born in Ibadan, on the 4th of February 1969. She was born to Aare Afe Babalola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Yeye Modupe Babalola. She had her secondary education at both the Command Secondary School Ibadan and the International School Ibadan. After her SSCE, she went for her undergraduate studies at the University of Lagos, where she studied law. Next, she went for her masters in International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is married to the son of the late Olofin Ijaye of Lagos – Adegboyega Austen-Peters, and they are blessed with children.
Bolanle Austen-Peters Early Career.
We all know Bolanle to be an art enthusiast, but she didn’t start out her career or education pursuing art. Her story is a typical example of life happening when you make other plans. She decided to follow her passion later on in her career and that has proven to be a decision well made.
Bolanle worked in her father’s law firm after her master’s studies. While working in her father’s firm, she kept sending out job applications to other companies. She was invited by the United Nations for an interview and eventually got a job as the company secretary of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights in Switzerland. After a while, she moved on to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Finally, just before she relocated to Nigeria and birthed Terra Kulture, she worked with the United Nations Development Program.
Bolanle Austen-Peters and her husband decided to relocate to Nigeria in 2002. Meanwhile, while working with the United Nations, Bolanle noticed she was always attracted to museums and art exhibition centres. So on getting to Nigeria, she noticed theatre arts had been neglected in the country. However, she knew the sector was worth billions, and a major contributor to economic growth abroad. Therefore, she concluded she was going to mine the gold in the industry, and also be an employer of labour. She wanted to help in curbing the rate of unemployment in Nigeria.
Terra Kulture was established in 2003. She started with stage musicals, instead of the normal stage play known in Nigeria. The pattern was new and had no street credibility, so they had about two or three persons attend the show. Although she was discouraged, Bolanle didn’t give up. So, she kept pushing. She pitched her ideas to several angel investors and couldn’t get investors until after six months.
In between running Terra Kulture, Bolanle worked with Ford Foundation, Lagos as a Consultant. She helped the foundation raise millions of dollars for the Museum through Arts and Business Council.
Terra Kulture Arena.
Today, the Nigerian art and culture organisation, Terra Kulture, owns the only private theatre in Nigeria. She built this theatre with the intent of creating a cool spot and palatable environment for artists to discover, create and showcase their works and talents. Terra Kulture Arena had its grand opening on the 25th and 26th of March, 2017.
The 400-seater space is equipped with state of the art lighting, sound, stage and an audiovisual LED screen. It has a 60 seater VIP lounge, a hall space and an eatery.
Bolanle Austen-Peters (BAP) Productions.
Bolanle Austen-Peters productions is a byproduct of Terra Kulture. BAP productions have produced several award-winning shows that have enjoyed international reviews. She started with ‘SARO the Musical‘ in 2013. The production raised the bar for the theatre industry in Nigeria.
SARO the Musical attracted lots of positive reviews and accolades from several international media houses including BBC and SKY News. Owing to the success of the musical, BAP productions made five additional plays and eventually produced ‘SARO the Musical 2‘ on December 2014 and April 2015. After SARO the Musical 2, they produced a Broadway-style musical production titled ‘Wakaa the Musical‘. This event took place from the 30th of December 2015 to the 3rd of January 2016 at Muson centre, Onikan, Lagos.
‘Wakaa the Musical’ was the first Nigerian musical to be staged at Shaw Theatre, West End, London from 21st to 25th of July 2016.
93 Days is a feature film documentary produced and directed by Bolanle Austen-Peters, on the Ebola crisis in Nigeria. The movie premiered on the 13th of September 2016 in Lagos. 93 days was selected to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, Johannesburg Film Festival, Africa Film Festival at Cologne and Germany.
The movie got nominated for the RapidLion Award and got the highest nominations in the Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards 2017.
Other Stage Plays of Bolanle Austen-Peters.
Bolanle successfully showed ‘SARO The Musical’ in London. The musical played at the Shaw Theatre from the 24th to 29th of August 2017. She produced ‘Fela and the Kalakuta Queens’, which premiered in December 2017. Other stage plays, and onscreen movie productions are: The Phenomenal Woman, Rhythm of the Times, Music of Africa, Full Circle, Queen Moremi the Musical and Blinging Lagos etc.
Bolanle Austen Quotes.
“Relevance itself is wealth, it’s a quality and a value. Time buys you relevance, time buys you greatness, time buys you money. So you must stay in the vision and with time, you would reap the benefits.”
“…You’re bound to meet a lot of stumbling blocks, and you’re bound to fail at certain things, but the number of times you fail is not the issue, it is the number of times you pick yourself up, dust yourself and continue your journey.”
“Even though your family and friends discourage you, and you know where you’re going, keep your focus and surround yourself with positive minds.”
“There is no laziness in any business, that wants to succeed.”
“Until you understand that time is something you cannot cheat, you will not go very far in business”
“Money is not an end, value is the end. Focus on adding value to the society and the money would follow.”
“The resources we have as a Nation is not what is critical, what is critical is the development of the human mind. The creative mind is the most important resource tool in any nation.”
Bolanle Austen-Peters Awards and Recognitions.
- Best lighting designer for ‘Wakaa the Musical’.
- CNBC Entrepreneur of the week.
- Golden Medal Anino in 2013.
- ARR Award in 2015.
Photo Credit: connectnigeria.com, thenerveafrica.com, africanscreate.com, pinterest.com, terrakulture.com, africanglitz.com