We of CREATIVE ARTS FOR CHANGE wish, as an organization brought together by our trade and industry – the creative arts industry – to add our voice to those of the millions of Ghanaian businesses, entrepreneurs, students, teachers, doctors, nurses, patients, parents, media houses and the general citizenry about this near devastating energy situation – “dumsor”.
We want to publicly notice and endorse the effort of our colleagues who recently have been outspoken about this situation. We refer specifically to Yvonne Nelson, Lydia Forson, Sarkodie, D.K.B. and the many others who have joined in this battle. Congratulations to all of you for fighting for us all in the industry and for Ghanaians. We doff our hats to you.
We also take note of the attacks our colleagues have had to face from some political quarters, particularly government circles. We are very disappointed that those politicians have taken this route of our politics to personalize and partisanize the situation.
Particularly, we also take note that the President has taken a position that the actions of our colleagues – and by extension, of ours by our previous actions and as we issue this statement – are politicized; something he believes we should not be a part of because of our industry. While we do not begrudge him his position on the matter, we humbly remind him that it is our right to determine our future, which is a political decision.
It is also for the fact that we determine our political choices that his political party used some of our colleagues, who took partisan sides to campaign for them, something we deem to be their right and for which we were proud of them.
It is also important to remind His Excellency that government under his regime, has politicized our industry by creating a ministry for it and creating budget lines for it for which politics appears to be its reason, as opposed to what we have to offer to our dear country and compatriots.
The effect of this problem does not know where one Ghanaian or the other votes or which Ghanaian supports which Ghanaian party. We all suffer regardless. We ask that they take note of this statement we make.
The dumsor problem has been devastating to our industry in more ways than one. For those in the radio and television industry, for example, we have seen a downward slope in our business. There is uncertainty in our productions and viewership. The media houses we depend on to air our products have spent not less than 20% of their profit income on purchasing fuel for their generators over the last few years. This will no doubt, cumulatively, run into millions of cedis across the country if calculated. This has a cumulative effect of reducing their profits and affecting media buying, viewership and listenership.
Dumsor affects our colleagues in the film and television production industry. Even when we believe we have a schedule from ECG, VRA and all those in between such that we can time ourselves efficiently and be professional about our work, we have been let down. They do not stick to the schedules. To top things up we have now to invest in generators, either purchasing one or renting one.
Some of the “Telcos” have also negatively affected of our industry as a result. Those of us who depend on the internet to upload and download content for research, administration, production and exhibition are not being provided the service we have paid for. All these obviously have affected our meager budgets.
In our industry, those who have to record for music, those who have to edit for film and television, those who have to edit for advertising and all other electronic equipment related business, those who have to print books, magazines or newspapers are suffering. Actors are not getting jobs because producers are not producing. The film market at Opera Square, Kantamanto, Kegyetia, Adum and of late centers in Tamale and the Volta Region, which could boast of a market value of over fifty thousand Ghana cedis worth of film sales every week, are now on their knees.
CD duplicating plants such as A.R.N., S.K.D. and Accra Sounds, are all suffering. An estimated ten thousand Ghanaians, who depend on film productions for employment and business as vendors, distributors, video center operators and their assistants, and technicians, to list a few, are all affected. This does not even talk about their dependants. This list is just for the film industry. Make the same list for the other sectors like music, print press and theater.
One of our biggest sources of income is when we perform in theaters, halls of entertainment, at concerts and our films are shown in cinema halls. While we do not have enough of these to meet our demands and encourage our creativity – something we of CAfC demanded as an organization in the past election year for our industry – we now rather have to focus our attention on whether we can even access and use what exists. This focus is based on what should otherwise be a mediocre consideration of the supply of energy. We now have to add to our budgets the cost of using a generator in order to perform in these places.
Not only do we have to worry about the use of the generator, we also have to worry about the cost of fuel. We still do not understand and appreciate why and how, when oil prices which apparently determine our pump price, have dropped significantly on the world market, we do not benefit from it. Furthermore we were told that the high cost of fuel in Ghana is maintained because someone has borne us a debt with the BDCs or OMCs or whoever. We now also have to pay for the inefficiencies and incompetence of others. This we find unsatisfactory.
Government must note that our reaction is not geared towards making it unpopular but as citizens of our motherland Ghana, it is our civic duty, as enshrined in the constitution, to voice out and call the attention of the managers our country whenever their actions, inactions or management of our affairs is plunging our nation into an abyss.
When We Were Silent…
We are painfully reminded of where we have come from as an industry. In the early 80’s, the then PNDC government imposed a curfew on the whole nation. We cowardly sat back in silence and fear as our beautiful exciting Ghanaian entertainment culture virtually disintegrated. Our vibrant night life renowned worldwide as part of our hospitability, collapsed. Cinema houses like Orion, Regal, Gaskia and others closed down. Dance halls like the great Apollo Theater closed down. The owners had to sell them to churches. Our great band stand culture that brought us greats like Uppers International and Black Beats and bore us great musicians like Nana Ampadu, Senior Eddie Donkor, Kaakaku and Paapa Yankson was minimized. Band owners sold their bands to charismatic evangelists for cheap, de-investing from the strong entertainment industry that could have been earning the country billions. Bands men went jobless, in the end, the entertainment industry of Ghana collapsed. Musicians went bankrupt and couldn’t pay their bands men; some ended up performing at funerals by miming along cassette playbacks just to make ends meet. Live band music performance, which was a staple diet for our entertainment industry for decades, is now news.
Our phenomenal trendsetting concert party groups, also internationally renowned, which used to trek to the towns and villages and perform to all and sundry were killed off. They are long gone and forgotten.
We cannot sit back again as an industry and watch our recent revival efforts get rolled back. We saw what our forebears went through.
We struggle to revive the entertainment industry with little or no help from any quarters. We struggle to encourage entrepreneurs to invest in events and artiste management. We struggle to motivate our new generation of musicians to perform live by engaging the service of bands men and women. We struggle to develop and promote the video production sector to revive the art of telling our own story in a modern way as we create jobs for our actors, script writers, technicians and other players. We struggle to convince investors to put up theatres for performance. We now struggle just to keep the lights on to create these opportunities. Dumsor is hurting our industry. #DumsorMustStop!
For these reasons we wish to state the following;
• We urge government to give the Ghanaian public a full, clear and truthful picture and understanding of our energy situation. This we believe will help all of us, especially the creative arts industry, to better plan the future.
- We urge government to discourage its supporters from raising disparaging remarks against people who choose to be open about their thoughts and convictions regarding governance. There is a lot of discontent in the nation at the moment for various reasons. Such responses from those elected to serve Ghana and their appointees and supporters, who turn around to be obnoxious and arrogant about our concerns, do not serve anyone.
- We urge our parliamentarians, especially those who have oversight responsibility over the energy industry, to make public their knowledge and understanding of what is going on so that business may further grasp an appreciation for planning. It will also let us know that our representatives care about us.
- We want to assure our colleagues who plan to hold the #DumsorMustStop vigil on May 16th that we will be there officially and in full support and endorsement of their actions. We will partner them by participating as members of the same industry and as Ghanaians.
- We urge and encourage as many Ghanaians as can, to be part of this peaceful #dumsormuststop endeavor planned for May 16th. You are definitely affected in one way or the other by our industry and by the energy crisis. We are ALL users of electricity and buyers of fuel. It is the many voices joined together for a course that gets results. Let us all meet there and in a loud silence make our voices heard and our presence felt.
Long live Ghana
May we see an end to dumsor
Creative Arts for Change