The training is the outcome of a partnership between The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) operated Joint Venture and the Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation (BOF) and was attended by talented artists from Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo and Rivers states.

“I thank SPDC for this partnership which has taken another set of youths out of the unemployment market,” said the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, at the graduation ceremony at Agbarha-Otor, Delta State. The art-loving monarch added: “Continuing this initiative in the years to come will also go a long way to protect the cultural heritage of the people of Niger Delta.”

Managing Director, SPDC, and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Osagie Okunbor, said: “I am convinced that the training will mark a milestone in the development of these young artists as they begin to make their mark in their respective sectors. That’s what this is about. That’s why we are committed to these partnerships.” He was represented by SPDC’s Acting Head, Partnership and NGO Relations, Dr. Dennis Oyakhire.

The Ovie of Agbarha-Otor Kingdom, Richard Oghenevwogaga Ebelle, also commended the partnership and urged the artists to justify the confidence reposed in them.

The 60 trainees were exposed to advanced skills in various area of arts such as photography, textiles, bead-making, welding and metal construction, paint-making, ceramics (pottery), leather craft, machine weaving, painting, drawing, and computer graphic in textiles.

The beneficiaries of the programme had the rare opportunity of being mentored directly by the legendary Nigerian printmaker, painter and sculptor, Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya. The mentoring will continue as SPDC provides them with seed funding to start their own businesses.

In 2003, SPDC launched the LiveWIRE programme which has so far trained more than 60,000 Niger Delta youths on business development services and provided them with start-up capital.