The Divisional Chairman for the Centres for National Culture (CNC) of the Public Services Workers Union (PSWU), Isaac Mensah, says he believes there is an agenda to collapse all the arts centres across the country.
According to him, the relocation of workers, artisans and traders at the Arts Centre to Kawukudi and Ghana House is perhaps, just a ploy to cover up a grand agenda of closing down all the Centres for National Culture (CNC) which are committed to the promotion of our culture.
Speaking at a press conference at the auditorium of the Arts Centre on Thursday, January 27 to address some issues regarding the relocation of the Centre, Mr Mensah pointed out that happenings at some of the cultural centres validated their suspicions.
“I want all of us to be aware that it’s not about CNC Accra but all the Centres for National Culture. There is a grand agenda where they relocate the centres to three or four rooms. It has happened in Wa and in the Eastern Region.
“In the Eastern Region, a facility that had been developed to a larger extent was given to a private person to complete and manage it. This agreement was entered in by the Tourism Ministry, giving a private person the authority to have the keys to the centre and decide when it should be opened,” he disclosed.
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Mr Mensah also pointed out that the Public Services Workers Union (PSWU) and its associates were not against the Marine Drive Project but were calling for the Arts Centre to be incorporated into the Marine Drive Project to make it more meaningful.
“Like the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, we were given the assurance that the Centre for National Culture (Arts Centre) would not be touched.
“The point must be stressed that the 1992 constitution (Articles 26 and 39) recognises, subject to the provisions of the Constitution, culture as a right which has to be enforced, and building and maintaining state institutions to safeguard them is in the national interest.
“We are thereby respectfully asking the government why do you want to pull down the Arts Centre at all cost,” he said.
The press conference, which was also addressed by the Member of Parliament for the Klottey-Korle Constituency, Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, brought to light pertinent issues including the relevance of keeping the Arts Centre as a cultural heritage.
“The Arts Centre has served as the orientation centre for both Ghanaians and foreigners, a talent development and resource centre for both academia and industry players. The powers that be must listen to us.
"Yes, all may not be well but we have the capacity to make the centre grow. Just give us the opportunity to show it. We will not end this today, we will fight for this place to be maintained,” he said.
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The Centre for National Culture was established in the year 1990 under the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) Law 238 which established the National Commission on Culture (NCC).
The Commission was charged with the responsibility of establishing their Regional and District branches across the nation with the mission to maintain the unique cultural identity and values for the promotion of an integrated national culture, as well as contribute to the overall economic development of the nation.
Dr Zanetor Rawlings (middle) speaking at the press conference
According to Dr Zanetor Rawlings, she had been opposed to the demolishing of the Arts Centre before assumption into office as a Member of Parliament since it was an affront to the promotion of Ghana’s culture and heritage.
“If the relevance of the Marine Drive Project falls under the same concept of the Arts Centre, why don’t we add value to it rather than destroy it. Why are we not being creative to empower those who are contributing to the economy?
“The instrument which passed the law for the Marine Drive Project is an Executive Instrument which means the President assents to it so we are appealing to the President to ensure transparency.
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“Also, there should be broader stakeholder engagement since the requisite knowledge for such a project is not limited to a person or some few individuals. There’s no transparency in this relocation and that is quite worrying,” she noted.