Facilities for research in the Studios include a research library and full documentation center. Programmes in the Studios are designed and organized by the studios management in various arms of the visual art. The residency programmes in the Studios are designed for three months, six months or one year, depending on the theme chosen. The management advertises the programmes in art centres, art schools and other related organizations within and outside the country and the conditions for the programmes are clearly stated in the advertisement. Applications are duly scrutinized and successful applicants are invited to participate.
The artists accepted for the programme are accommodated within the premises of the Studios for effective management and supervision. The artists so engaged are referred to as “Artists-in-Residence” or “Studio-attaches”. In addition to providing accommodation, the management also provides art materials for them to use free of charge. They are also given monthly stipends for their personal needs during the period.
One of the conditions stated in the Studios agreement form is that the management of the Studios will retain some artworks produced by the artists during the period of the programme for the augmentation of the collection of the National Gallery of Art. The number of artworks to be retained is normally agreed upon before the commencement of the programme; the artists keep their other works after selection.
All the artworks produced by the artists during the period are exhibited to mark the end of the programme. It is the responsibility of the management to give the exhibition wide publicity. The management also takes a certain percentage from the money realized from the sale of artworks from the exhibitions. At the end of every programme, the Artists-In-Residence move out, giving way to new beneficiaries. The Artists-In-Residence benefit in two ways from the programme. Firstly, if the programme involves more than one artist at a time, the artists benefit from each other’s experiences; secondly, the artists make money from the sale of their works produced during the programme.
Apprentices, serving NYSC artists and art students on Industrial attachment to the Studios assist fully in the programmes and as a result acquire more skills, new ideas and techniques as well as mastering the use of various types of materials experimented with by the master-artists.
The first phase of the National Studios of Art under the aegis of the National Gallery of Art was officially commissioned in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1999 and the building is named after late Mr. Aina Onabolu as a posthumous honour to a personality generally regarded as the ‘Father of Modern Nigerian Visual Art’. The Studios located at the National Theatre Annex, Iganmu, have all the modern facilities required for modern visual art practice. It comprises an exhibition hall for the exhibition of artists’ works (not only those of artists-in-residence), a research library, studios for all visual arts media (Sculpture, Painting, Ceramics, Graphics/Prints etc), Board and Conference rooms, offices and an open air space for social functions.
Artists who exhibit in the exhibition hall are charged minimal fee in addition to a low percentage for sale of their works during the exhibition while the National Gallery of Art provides publicity and refreshments during the opening of the exhibition. Artists wishing to exhibit at the Studios must meet a certain standard of acceptability as artworks are assessed by a jury of specialists. Thus, artworks to be accepted for exhibition must be creative in essence, inspiring in philosophy and aesthetically appealing.
The Studios equally provide for children’s art workshops. Like adults, children express themselves through art hence the need to encourage them to develop their talents. To this end, art materials are provided free of charge for them to use. Qualified staff of the National Gallery of Art and serving National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) members, assisted by students on industrial attachment guide the children in their programme. Also situated in the same complex is a storey building which houses the Guest rooms for the artists-in-residence, offices and conference halls, a library and documentation center.