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Propelling Ghana's Creative Industry to new heights
Propelling Ghana's Creative Industries to new heights
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Propelling Ghana's Creative Industry to new heights

In a world fixated on economic metrics, the transformative power of art and culture in driving economic prosperity often remains underestimated. Beyond financial gains, the creative industry holds the key to enriching societies and shaping national identities.

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As a nation steeped in a rich cultural legacy, nurturing the creative sector not only promises economic growth but also celebrates its existence.

As Ghana anticipates a new era with the forthcoming government in 2025, the time is ripe to acknowledge the economic prowess of art and culture and to enact policies that bolster their flourishing.

1. Economic contribution of art and culture:

   - Art and culture serve as engines of economic growth by fueling tourism, stimulating export revenues, and fostering job creation.

   - Ghana's cultural tourism, propelled by vibrant festivals, music, dance, and crafts, not only generates income but also opens avenues for employment.

   - Exporting cultural products like music, films, literature, and handicrafts not only boost foreign exchange earnings but also elevate Ghana's global standing.

   - The creative industry offers livelihoods to a diverse workforce, encompassing artists, artisans, performers, designers, and entrepreneurs, thereby aiding in poverty alleviation and inclusive growth.

2. Soft power and nation branding:

   - Art and culture wield influence as tools for nation branding and soft power projection, sculpting perceptions of Ghana on the world stage.

   - Ghana's cultural tapestry, woven through music, dance, culinary arts, and traditional customs, fosters national pride and identity.

   - By spotlighting its cultural diversity and creativity, Ghana can attract investment, foster global partnerships, and fortify diplomatic ties.

3. Social cohesion and well-being:

- Beyond economic dividends, art and culture foster social cohesion, nurturing a sense of community and belonging.

   - Cultural engagements facilitate dialogue, understanding, and reconciliation, bridging societal divides and promoting peace.

   - Participation in cultural activities and creative expression enriches individual well-being, mental health, and overall quality of life.

4. Challenges and Opportunities:

   - While Ghana's creative industry makes substantial contributions, challenges like inadequate infrastructure, funding scarcity, piracy, and regulatory hurdles persist.

   - However, these obstacles also present opportunities for innovation, collaboration, and policy interventions.

   - By embracing digital advancements, enhancing skill development, and ensuring financial accessibility, Ghana can bolster the competitiveness and resilience of its creative sector.

5. Policy recommendations for the new government:

   - The upcoming government in 2025 should prioritise crafting a robust cultural policy framework that acknowledges the economic and social significance of art and culture.

   - Invest in cultural infrastructure, such as museums, theatres, galleries, and cultural hubs, to bolster the creation, display, and conservation of cultural assets.

   - Offer financial incentives, grants, and tax benefits to bolster artists, cultural entrepreneurs, and creative enterprises.

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   - Strengthen enforcement of intellectual property rights to combat piracy and safeguard the rights of artists and creators.

   - Foster collaborations between the public sector, private sector, civil society, and academia to promote innovation, skill development, and knowledge exchange in the creative industries.

One major aspect of the ecosystem that hinders the growth of the industry that is bent on making strides and changing status-quo in Africa, in areas of cultural heritage and arts preservation, is cultural participation amongst citizenry. 

Cultural participation has many benefits that remain under-exploited, from social inclusion to boosting health and well-being, as well as cultivation of skills and entrepreneurship. It can also promote behaviour change to address social challenges.

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Cultural participation is higher in countries with higher public expenditure on culture, with likely mutually reinforcing effects. However, in some parts of Africa including Ghana, two-thirds of people are reporting that they are not engaged in active forms of cultural participation (artistic activities).

Policy perspectives

Broaden the scope of the policy approach to cultural participation

The policy rationale for public spending in culture, and for the development of cultural participation, generally tends to be narrowly focused on support for culture as a merit good. However, cultural participation may have important implications for health and well-being, innovation, social cohesion, and even responsible environmental behaviours.

 This implies that the policy approach to cultural participation could evolve to broaden in scope. Cultural participation should be considered relevant in all other policy contexts where cultural participation brings about major effects: e.g. health, social change, research and innovation, environment and climate, and education, among others.

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For cultural participation to be viewed as a vehicle to achieve multiple policy goals, timely, systematic, comprehensive and consistent statistical frameworks are needed. This data would help to underpin measurement and the evaluation of policy actions on cultural participation. Promoting the development of such a framework, in collaboration with national statistical institutes and other relevant institutions collecting and analyzing statistical data at various territorial scales and capacities, is one of the most pressing needs to further this agenda. Promoting this at an international scale is also very valuable for benchmarking and learning.

Create new collaborations between cultural and non-cultural institutions

Given the promise of culture-driven crossovers with high potential for social and economic impact, it is important to create the conditions for them to unfold. To make this happen, there is a need to break old silos and build bridges between different disciplinary and professional spheres.

New collaborations between cultural and non-cultural institutions can help in innovating, experimenting and implementing crossover projects (e.g. between museums or theatres and hospitals, between orchestras and educational institutions, or between independent art spaces and urban planners, etc.). 

This new dialogue requires careful preparation on both sides. The launch of pilot programmes to establish common ground and understanding, build trust, and develop professional skills with bridging functions can help in this direction. The monitoring and evaluation of such pilot projects will be important for learning and building the evidence base to better inform wider policy initiatives.

Conclusion

Cultural industries are increasingly becoming important components of the modern economy and knowledge-based society due to their impact on the enrichment of development. The culture sector generates two types of impacts: non-economic and economic. The non-economic impacts that cultural industries have on social development can be seen in the field of social cohesion and integration of marginalised groups. 

 In Ghana, the creative sector stands poised to steer sustainable development and prosperity. 

By recognising the economic power of art and culture and enacting supportive policies, the incoming government in 2025 can unlock the full potential of Ghana's creative industries, positioning the nation as a global cultural beacon as an African proverb wisely states, "When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you." 

Let Ghana nurture her creative spirit, harmonise her strengths, and chart a course to creative eminence on the world stage.

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