The other day two friends were discussing the work of the realigned Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts and it was such an interesting intercourse. One asked his friend, “Boosu, what’s the link between Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts and the difference between Chieftaincy and the traditional weyting call am sef…” His bemused friend was like, “Charley if I tell you that I know then I am deceiving you.
The only thing I know is that the minister is a lawyer and her deputy is an industry person so let’s wait and see what they do.”
Dig this, these are two supposedly knowledgeable gentlemen whose renown is widespread, at least in West Coast terms; ala Ghana – Naija!!!
I guess Maa Lizzy and Daavi Dzifa have to let the industry know what’s up with the ministry and one such way is engaging industry. The sports minister has visited a number of gyms and sports centres here and there and although styles are different, there has been similar visits by the new leadership of the ministry to similar institutions in the sector. Although there’s been some issues about the scope of the creative arts, UNESCO has a definition.
The Creative Arts
According to UNESCO, the term cultural industries refers to industries which combine the creation, production and commercialization of creative contents which are intangible and cultural in nature. The contents are typically protected by copyright and they can take the form of a good or a service. Cultural industries generally include printing, publishing and multimedia, audiovisual, phonographic and cinematographic productions as well as crafts and design.
The UN body also notes that the term creative industries encompasses a broader range of activities which include the cultural industries plus all cultural or artistic production, whether live or produced as an individual unit. The creative industries are those in which the product or service contains a substantial element of artistic or creative endeavour and include activities such as architecture and advertising.
Blogger Alice Loy is of the view that, whereas the notion of “cultural industries” emphasizes those industries whose inspiration derives from heritage, traditional knowledge, and the artistic elements of creativity, the notion of “creative industries” places emphasis on the individual and his or her creativity, innovation, skill and talent in the exploitation of intellectual property.
For Alice the terms cultural industries and creative industries are nearly interchangeable. I also reckon that the key denominator here is creativity and like Akunu Dake puts it, cultural industries are more into the heritage matters of our forts, castles, foods, languages, traditions etc. while the creative industries are the movies, music, paintings etc. Actually government thinks in terms of Cultural sites, Visual Arts, Traditional and Cultural expressions, Performing Arts, Music, Publishing, Audio Visuals, New Media, Design and Creative Services when it refers to the Creative Industries.
For some time now it appeared as if the theatre was dead in Ghana. The days when the David Dontohs, Dzifa Gomashies, Edinam Atatsis, Abi Adatsis, Kofi Attohs and the Abigromas, Kosi Kosis, Ghana Talent Company and Nkrabeah Effah Dartey’s posse. Lord of his mercy….well, those were the days!
Last Sunday at the National Theatre, the audience reminded me of the days when the National Theatre was the only venue for our entertainment shows like Kojo Antwi’s 24th Nite, Ghana Music Awards etc. Uncle Ebo Whyte’s Roverman Productions was at it again in a play entitled ‘What’s My Name’ and the quality of the audience was indicative of the demand for great entertainment.
Folks from all walks of life like they say…. I mean you could see families in 4x4s, others in their bangarang jalopies while others just walked to the nearest bus stop to await their troskies and taxis. This means that the demand is there hence the need for both the private and public sectors to service this need.
Support for Theatre
The issue of performance venues cannot be overstated. Currently, apart from the run down regional cultural centres, there doesn’t seem to be any sizable venues for public performances apart from some hotels that have halls or spaces that can be utilized for such shows. It’s my opinion that if investors partner the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, they can build venues that can host such performances as well as serve other purposes to ensure that such venues are economically sustainable.
Next to the issue of venues is institutional support. It should be possible under the new Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts to lead government’s policy initiatives to ensure that the theatre gets the support it requires and ensure it develops well enough in terms of logistics etc and the private sector should also weigh in with sponsorships etc. It shouldn’t always be music or movies.
Currently, apart from music and movies, the other domains in the Creative Arts basket can be likened to lesser known sports and it is crucial that the Ministry pays particular attention to some of these domains to ensure that they develop to supplement whatever contributions the two main sectors of music and movies are making to the national economy and development.
On Monday, Dahmie, an intern at the MUSIGA office told me that over the weekend, he had seen an advert on CNN which is claiming that Azonto originated in Naija. Much as we are all African brothers, this one di3 kai, walahi we should stake our claim. With Fuse ODG acting as the global ambassador of the dance form, Brand Ghana and the Ministry should call a forum of key players in the creative industries and come up with a plan for marketing Azonto and leveraging the benefits that can accrue from it.
Brazil has samba and they’ve milked it and continue to milk it. Yes, we have cultural dances already but truth be told, how many of our youth know the dance steps of their tribes whereas Azonto is danced from Aflao to Nyankpanduri through Axim to Bunkpungu Yoyo. So let’s get our act together and see how we can benefit as a nation from it. Did I hear someone say it’s a fad?
Already some folks are talking about a national Azonto festival. How can we make this into a whole carnival? Joy FMout of nowhere has established Schools Reunion as an annual event folks look forward to, rivalling the festivals of certain traditional areas in terms of participation and impact both economically and socially.
There have been talks of a carnival by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts. I propose strongly that such an event should climax in a national Azonto championship and I daresay that such an event will become an institutionalized festival that can sit comfortably on the international calendar of festivals like the Nottinghill Carnival, the Trinidad Carnival or the famous Brazilian carnival.
My caution is that it shouldn’t go the way of the Panafests, NAFACs etc which are now so removed from the mass of our people that its impact is not felt the way it should be and they seem more like festivals for a niche rather than the mass festivals I am sure the pioneers actually dreamt these festivals to be.
So Maa Lizzy and all key players in the Creative Industries, let’s get our groove on and ensure that our sector contributes its quota to the national cake.