The role of the creative arts in national development has been emphasized over the years yet the level of commitment required in ensuring that this ceases to be a facade has not always matched the talk. One will wonder why this proclamation, which is a statement of fact and can be attested to by practitioners and patrons of the arts, at this moment in time. There is no way that commitment to a venture can produce cherished valuable results without the setting up of the requisite structures accompanied by appropriate regulations and in the right climate.
In the past and not too distant past, we have had more talk than action when it comes to working to achieve resounding success in any facet of life, in the common interest of the people of this nation. That is exactly what has transpired in this nation and the story is no different when it comes to the creative arts industry in Ghana. However, that narrative appears to be changing now.
It is clear that despite its potential, issues regarding the creative arts industry have not received the necessary attention and support since Ghana’s Independence, perhaps with the exception of the Nana Akufo-Addo government since it took over the reins of power in January 2017. I say this with no reservations and/or fear. The treatment meted out to the creative arts over the years is akin to a child praying to be adopted formally, in order to have foster parents, whereas, in fact, the right thing to do is unite it with its biological parents. Why must a child be treated as an orphan when its parents are alive? Why must this child go begging, cup in hand, when it has what it takes to not only fend for itself, but has the ability to even provide support for others?
That is what has happened, since Independence, to the creative arts in Ghana. Management of the creative arts has been sent for ‘adoption’ to many ‘parents including the Ministries of Information, Education, Commission on Chieftaincy, amongst others until it was paired up with Ministry of Tourism in recent times.
One will ask why then do you say until the Nana Akufo-Addo government, the creatives never received the required attention? It is evidently simple. The Creative Arts Industry has been duly placed under a Creative Arts Council, which is a body of State and is being resourced with all appropriate legal and logistical support to ensure that it operates at full capacity, to the benefit of not just practitioners in this area of life, but also to benefit the nation as a whole. Countless engagements have and some more are being done to ensure it is made a successful venture. That is the commitment that, if we had as a nation, put in place would have given the creative arts the necessary push it needed.
Aside the setting up of this Council, which has over forty (40) creative practitioners under its umbrella and has held various engagements with its members, associations and institutions, there is the setting up of the Office for Programmes and Projects in Creative Arts to ensure that projects and programmes are organized to elevate the work of creative practitioners in Ghana. At the appropriate time, all will know these programmes and projects.
This Government appears determined to ensure that the creative arts contribute their quota to national development, and has put in a lot of effort to ensure that all who matter are properly organized and structured. This is what commitment should be and not just talk shops without appropriate systems and structures. What was started a few years ago has been stepped up and is yielding results with a very high probability of yielding more. What is needed is for all who have the creative arts at heart to put their shoulders to the wheel and ensure that we place it on the right footing to do what they do best and enjoy most- contributing to national development. Let us support the organs of government to set the standards and all other things can follow.
The creative industry has what it takes to take care of itself but until we support the systems and structures, we will continue to grope in the dark. The Tourism aspect of this sector is seen to be working because they started with Councils and bodies that have worked to ensure their status. Until such a time that we can have a Ministry to ourselves, let us support the bodies set up to push this sector forward. There is steady progress being made and we shall soon arrive at our destination.