Good afternoon our cherished and distinguished guests.
Members of the National Executive Council of MUSIGA, Members of the National Executive Committee, Management and Union Administrators, Our Friends from the Media, Fellow Musicians,
I welcome you to the Musicians Union of Ghana and to this press conference marking the second year in office of the AJUMAPA vision, AJUMAPA @ 2 under the theme- “Still pursuing the Rebranding Agenda, Creating Wealth for musicians.”
Before we proceed further, I will like to invite you to observe a minute’s silence for our dearly departed among whom are MUSIGA’s first President Jerry Hansen, F. Kenya, Koobi Aware, Dr K Gyasi, Johnny Sarfo, Nana Wusu, Richard Oppong Kyekyeku and Prof Komla Amoako. Thank you.
The AJUMAPA vision is linked to key objectives of the Union including the promotion of a meaningful voice in decisions that affect musicians, developing highly-trained and motivated leaders at every level of the Union to reflect the membership in all its diversity as we grow the music industry in Ghana together.
During this period, the leadership of the Union has been working to ensure that the AJUMAPA vision lives on through the promotion of accountable and transparent governance, promoting unity and peace in our country to sustain the democratic dispensation required to enable us create jobs for our members. The leadership has also been involved in creating awareness on how the music business is done as we push for suitable and appropriate policies and regulations that would enhance the profession we have chosen.
Even though the journey has not been easy, we recognize the support leadership, members, industry practitioners and stake holders have given the Union since our assumption of office in September 2011 and we are grateful to everyone that has played a role in this endeavor.
Dear members of the press, we have invited you here to share with you highlights of what has transpired within the last two years since we assumed office. We will present to you some of the key works done, on-going projects and activities, challenges and the way forward as we enter the third year of our stewardship.
In my inaugural address two years ago, I spoke about job creation, the need for unity in the industry, building the union’s capacity, rebranding and a membership drive among others.
I can say that we have made some progress on all fronts.
Over the past two years, our membership has grown cumulatively year on year by 1,000 members. You will recall that I indicated that we will introduce various levels of membership. A committee to submit recommendations on this has proposed a phased three tier level of membership which will cover affiliate, standard and a MUSIGA Pro level. Plans are far advanced for the roll out of this three tier membership.
In the run up to Election 2012, the nation was gripped by fervor for peace and MUSIGA was in the vanguard for the calls for peace. The union embarked on a series of Peace concerts nationwide culminating in the release of a compilation of audio and video songs to drive the call for peace.
As you may be aware, government is funding an on-going research project on the Music industry in Ghana and the result will enable the union to negotiate and advocate for the appropriate resources to be channeled to our sector. It will also inform investors and stakeholders of the opportunities available in the industry.
KPMG, (Ghana’s election petition PINK SHEET auditors) are the consultants undertaking this project which is far advanced and they will soon present their findings which we shall make publicize accordingly.
If the Supreme Court of our land chose them for the election petition exercise, then I believe we also made the right choice during our bidding process in choosing them for this project. (Laughs).
The union has a twinning agreement with the British Musicians Union (BMU) under which the General Secretary, Director of Special Projects and I paid a working visit to the United Kingdom last year.
I also had the honor of being invited to the United States on the International Visitor Leadership programme. I was also elected to serve on the executive committee of the International Federation of Musicians (FIM).
Since the beginning of 2013, the Union has undertaken a number of forward looking and progressive engagements.
Ghana Music Week
In March this year, we organized the Ghana Music Week which featured over 300 musicians and groups and showcased the cultural diversity of our country. We also had resource persons under our twinning agreement from the United Kingdom who facilitated some of the educational programmes during the week-long festival. In all over 1,200 persons including musicians, exhibitors and vendors all cashed in on the event.
From all indications, next year’s event will be even more spectacular.
We all know that knowledge is crucial for success in every endeavor even though some seek to place money first. As much as I accept the biblical verse that says ‘money answers all things’, it becomes very realistic when the payee knows how to replenish his or her source of income.
Knowledge is key if we want to take the industry to the next level. In this vein, the Union has undertaken a couple of training programmes to empower both leadership and members to acquire the requisite knowledge to enable all grow our enterprises and for that matter the industry.
Training has been provided for the leadership across the Nation under the Business Development Services Fund in core areas of our operations.
British Council has also been very supportive of the union’s educational activities. The Council has collaborated with the union by supporting the educational component of Ghana Music Week in addition to organizing an Artiste Management workshop for the union for which they brought high caliber resource persons from the UK.
In addition to this, the Council is supporting two Artiste Development Fora for the union. The first one was held in Kumasi and the second one is due in Tamale next month.
Late last year, we rolled out the collateral free AJUMAPA loan facility with Midland Savings and Loans. Although we have had some challenges we believe those are teething problems and the current beneficiaries will redeem their obligations to allow others to benefit from same.
As part of the AJUMAPA vision which emphasizes welfare for the Ageing musicians, we have launched the AGEING MUSICIANS WELFARE FUND (AMWeF). It is managed by the FirstBanC Financial Management Services. The fund will provide financial support for musicians who are 60 years and above or those who have become incapacitated in course of their professional work as musicians at least once a year or in emergencies.
I am calling on individuals and corporate organizations to support this fund through their donations or direct investments which guarantees one to three percent above the traditional Treasury bill Rate. This is to ensure that as a nation we can continue to put smiles on the faces of people who have brought smiles to our faces in time past.
We have engaged in discussions with several companies with the view to introducing a pension scheme for our sector. The Union will soon launch a life assurance and Pension Schemes for members across the country for guaranteed future security. It is sad to witness the number of Musicians who troop to the National office for financial help where no such provision exists.
The National Office has supported our regional offices to strengthen their capacity. The regional offices have been engaged in various programmes. As I mentioned earlier, the regional offices took part in the peace campaign leading to Election 2012 and have been engaged in various activities.
In the Western region, the union is collaborating with the Ghana Health Service on some charity projects; the Volta region has been involved in similar activities and is planning the maiden edition of Volta Music and Dance Festival. The Ashanti regional branch has acquired land for its offices and has been organizing workshops for its members as well as traditional musicians who are not currently members of the union.
The Institute for Music and Development is sponsoring a set of musical instruments for the Upper West regional branch under the Ghana Danish Cultural Fund. The Greater region has instituted an Industry night which seeks to bring the corporate world together with the industry for networking, showcasing the talents of members and mutually beneficial purposes.
The Northern region has also had some collaboration with the Goethe Institute and the Institute of Music Development while in the Eastern region; they have also acquired their own office and are working on a number of activities to create jobs for their members.
During the VGMA awards in 2013, the Union in her pursuit to ensure improved and encouraging rewards for winners presented a brand new saloon car to the winners R2Bees. We are grateful to our sponsors and partners for this initiative. Some have questioned our reason for this. The answer is to support the organizers Charterhouse to raise the bar in terms of rewards and compensations to raise the profile for awardees and sponsors.
We wish to reaffirm our commitment to the VGMA and will continue to work with Charterhouse to ensure that the awards continue to celebrate Ghanaian musicians.
CREATIVE ARTS COUNCIL
We are playing our role as a key stakeholder in assisting our sector minister of the MTCCA realizes her vision of establishing the creative arts council.
From January next year, MUSIGA will begin its training for practitioners as part of the MUSIGA Academy. This follows the signing of a contract between MUSIGA and the Skills Development Fund of Council for Technical and Vocational Education Training (COTVET).
The Union also has an MOU with the School of Performing Arts, University of
Ghana to implement a competence based industry skills development programme under the MUSIGA Academy. The first phase of the programme will train 100 beneficiaries in specialized areas of the music industry. The concept of the Academy is to introduce international industry standards and commensurate remunerations aimed at improving the livelihood of industry practitioners.
In the coming weeks the Union will invite industry practitioners to apply for these three month courses.
From 2014, National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) will be known as the Media and Creative Arts University of Ghana and it will offer industry specific courses for the music industry as they have done for film and television in Ghana.
MUSIGA has signed an M.O.U with NAFTI to collaborate with them on the Music Production Department of the school. The department will offer certificate, diploma, and degree programmes in Music in a more practical and industry-related modules and not just for an academic exercise.
Last year as you will recall, we published our financial report and as the year draws to a close, the National Executives have appointed Detris Consult as our external auditors and their representative is here with us today. Our audited accounts for this year will be available by the end of our financial year for the information of members and stakeholders.
Finally let me discuss some of the challenges we face. At all our regional offices we are confronted with some issues and we hope to address them in the coming years.
The challenges we face at the national leadership level has more to do with speculations and allegations of issues which accusers always fail or refuse to engage the union’s leadership for clarification. The Union continuously suffers from misinformation and miscommunication and we have recognized it and are working to address it. We suffer from a lot of propaganda from our detractors.
On that note, I will urge the media to be circumspect in their reportage. Much as they have a duty to inform, they should be minded to do due diligence in their duties to ensure that their reportage is more factual than speculative.
I urge you to be bold in dealing with your stories however I will encourage you to note that you have a mandate to also educate your listeners, viewers and readers through the provision of well researched stories. Currently it seems as if a section of the media shoots before aiming thereby missing the mark abysmally.
For the rest of the year, some of the activities lined up include MUSIGA Grand Ball, All Star National Tour, U.K in Tamale concert, a British Council sponsorship for two of our members to participate in WOMEX.
For the rest of our tenure, we will continue to pursue the agenda of AJUMAPA which is an Accountable administration, Jobs for musicians, Unity for union members, Music and music business education, Ageing musicians welfare, Pushing for policies and Achieving our goals.
In conclusion I would like to thank all our partners and sponsors over the past two years. They include Airtel, RLG, Ashfoam, Kasapreko, Techno Phones, Midland Savings and Loans, Ecobank, First Bank, the World Bank, UNDP, Unesco, FIM, International Music Council, British MU, British Council, Ghana Trade Union Congress, Institute for Music and Development, Cultural Department of the US Embassy, COTVET, KPMG, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, the Government of Ghana and all others I am unable to mention now.
Also a special thank you goes to our Media friends and our constructive critics and entertainment show panelists. We appreciate your role in helping build our music industry. Our doors are always open to you anytime you may need clarity on any matter.
As I take my seat, join me in echoing the refrain of the Psalmist who says in Psalm 95, “O come let us sing unto the Lord, let us make a joyful noise unto the rock of our salvation, for the Lord is a great God and a great King above all gods.”
May the good Lord richly bless us all.