CONSULTATIONS have started between the Federal Government and playerws in the film industry on how to deploy the N3 billion ‘Project Nollywood’ grant made available by President Goodluck Jonathan. Early March when President Goodluck Jonathan announced the N3billion Project Nollywood grant, some thought the money would end up like the $200million intervention fund for the creative industry the President made available in 2010. Accessing the money administered by the Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) and Bank of Industry (BOI) has been tough and despite President Jonathan saying the Ministries of Finance and Culture would administer the $3 billion, some filmmakers were not too impressed. However, indications that it will not be the same old story with the grant emerged on Saturday, April 27 when Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Culture Minister, Edem Duke, had a town hall with heads of guilds / associations, filmmakers and investors. About 200 participants deliberated on how the money would be disbursed and accessed at the meeting held at Eko Hotels, Victoria Island, Lagos. Though journalists were barred from the deliberation, they were duly briefed about what transpired by Okonjo-Iweala, Duke and the heads of some of the guilds after the meeting. “What we came here to do is to continue to further the initiative of Mr President in trying to support our creative arts industry, particularly Nollywood,” the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy began. “The idea is to recognise the talent in this industry and the fact that it’s a generator of jobs for our young. As you know, the industry has generated over 200,000 direct jobs, one million indirect jobs, $250million equivalent in value and we believe that we could double and triple all this if government has some supportive measure to help revitalise the industry. “So, the idea is to encourage the sustained growth of the industry; to help them deal with the bottlenecks in terms of intellectual property right and problems related to piracy. To help them deal with capacity building, quality and to encourage them in general to up the game in the industry, so to speak. So we have been brainstorming on the amount that the president put forward and how best to use it.” On what the meeting agreed to use the money for, Okonjo-Iweala said it would be spent on distribution, capacity building, script writing and production. “We agreed that this money will go to support certain things. First, getting distribution right. Second, for capacity building in the industry. Third, encouraging creativity through reviewing and having a competition for scripts and production. Those are some of the ideas on the table,” she said. Contributing, Duke reiterated the importance of Nollwood for Nigeria and Africa. He said, “Government’s realisation of the importance of this sector, apart from what has been enumerated by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, is to the effect that this sector has now become a major pillar in government’s cultural diplomacy to the extent that Nigerians and Africans in the Diaspora have started to reconnect with the continent and Nigeria using Nollywood as the channel of communication. And we find interest generated not just from Hollywood and Bollywood but from the Caribbean, from South America where you have huge historical connection between Nigeria and the Diaspora. ?How N3bn Nollywood grant will be spent?