Arts not for the weak-minded- Professor Yao Younge

By: Gifty Owusu-Amoah
Professor Younge arts not weak-minded
Professor Yao Younge

The Creative Arts industry is something that has not been taken very seriously over the years although it is so important in projecting the image of the country.

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Another thing those in the sector have to deal with is the perception that they are not too intelligent or the field is for those who are lightweight academically.

However, the co-Artistic Director of the African Ensemble at Ohio University in the United States, Professor Pascal Yao Younge, says it is unfair for players in the industry to be seen in such light.

In a chat with Graphic Showbiz at the launch of Agoro, a music and dance production, Professor Younge, who is also a Director of Annual International Summer Programme in African Interdisciplinary Arts at Ohio University, said the absence of the arts in a society stalls development.

"It is very sad that people have such a notion about the arts. I'm a professor in an esteemed university like Ohio because of the arts and I don't think myself any less than my colleagues in other departments.

"Arts is very relevant because it has sustained societies by helping them to identify with cultural roots," he said.

Professor Younge said the arts isn't regarded much in this part of the world because people don't have an understanding and lack orientation as well.

"Arts is present in every aspect of human life because culture forms part of the arts. Even in governance, players in the creative arts industry are needed to explain and give better understanding of policies with art.

"It involves a lot of creativity and ingenuity so obviously, such people can't be regarded as weak minds. When we better position the arts, we will benefit from it," he added.

He stated that arts has provided an avenue for people to release emotions and feelings and to find a way to express themselves and that shows the power it wields.

"Without the arts, we would not have the means to express our worries or fears, hopes, dreams, feelings or, ultimately, our humanity and that is the impact art players have with their craft," he said.

Professor Younge's committment to the arts influenced the establishment of Azaguno, a multi-ethnic ensemble that focuses on research, preservation and performance of African, African-American, Caribbean and Latin American music and dance styles.

His compositions include several vocal and instrumental works for orchestras, brass bands and choirs. The Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra performed his  work, “Africa Meets Asia” arranged for Chinese and African instruments by Simon Kong Su Leong in November of 2011.

His desire to contribute to the development of the creative arts industry in Ghana has seen him collaborate with the National Theatre on many productions with the latest, Agoro, due to be staged at the National Theatre on Thursday, June 28.

Agoro to play at National Theatre as part of anniversary