“Until you understand that time is something you cannot cheat, you will not go very far in business.” Bolanle Austen-Peters
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 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.
Furthermore, Bolanle worked in her father’s law firm after her Masters’ degree. 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. While working with the United Nations, Bolanle noticed she was always attracted to museums and art exhibition centres. Upon arrival 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.
Interestingly, 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 and 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 the Arts and Business Council.
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.
In addition, 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.
Conclusively, according to Bolanle Austen-Peters “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.”