SOME members of the Creative Arts for Change have expressed their disappointment in the ruling government for not fulfilling its promises to the creative arts sector.
With about a year to the 2020 general election, some of the group members, in interviews with the Graphic Showbiz last week, indicated that the government’s performance, when it came to the creative arts sector, was nothing to write home about.
Events organiser/media practitioner, Ricky Anokye, who was instrumental in the formation of the Creative Arts for Change, said he was ashamed about the performance of the government he had vigorously campaigned for as far as the creative arts sector was concerned.
“Creative Arts for Change was formed in 2012 when we bought into the then opposition New Patriotic Party’s (NPP’s) vision for the creative sector. Even though our bid failed in 2012, we sacrificed our careers and intensified our campaign because of the confidence we had in Nana Akufo-Addo.
“Unfortunately, their four-year term comes to an end next year and, sincerely, there’s nothing to show for all the policies and projects that were mentioned. As we are speak now, even the Film Bill, which was in its latter stage of passage under the previous government, is still pending.
“Talking about the regional theatres that were promised, how many of them have even started? Even the initial promise of renovating the various regional cultural centres is yet to happen,” he said.
Anokye, who is also the CEO of Event It Ghana, said even though he would score the government 25 per cent for its performance with regard to the creative industry, he would also blame industry persons with political appointments who were not pushing for the sector.
“We have some of our people in government, but what are they pushing for the sector? As of now, nothing has been done to legitimise the Creative Arts Council, yet they are working and I don’t know what mandate they have to operate,” he said.
Sharing similar views, artiste manager, Kwesi Ernest, said his hopes in the government had been dashed following its inability to implement its manifesto.
He mentioned the delay in the passage of the Copyright Bill into law and the establishment of the Creative Arts Fund and not legitimising the Creative Arts Council as challenges in the sector.
“Some of these key areas that I’ve mentioned are yet to be tackled and it is very disappointing, especially when we saw the vision and supported it wholeheartedly, only to be let down in the end,” he said.
Kwesi Ernest, who owns Media Excel, was, however, optimistic that the government would make an impact before its four-year mandate ended next year.
Musician Praye Tietia of Praye fame, who composed a song for the NPP, said although his expectations had not been met, he would not completely write off the government’s performance, adding: “Let’s just keep our fingers crossed for better days.”
While his colleagues expressed their disappointment, sound engineer, Fred Kyei Mensah, popularly known as Fredyma, said the performance had been satisfactory.
“The first point of delivery started with the appointment of a former sector minister, Madam Catherine Afeku. She rolled out the inauguration of the various boards under her ministry. The National Folklore Board, which had been dormant for the past decade, was reconstituted.
“Various artistes were given ambassadorial status to drive the tourism agenda. The Creative Arts Council was inaugurated, waiting for Parliament to pass the bill to make it a law governing body.
“The various theatre projects to be undertaken by the government in the various regional capitals started in earnest with the rehabilitation and refurbishment of the various cultural centres such as the Koforidua and the Kumasi centres for National Culture,” he said.
Fredyma mentioned the proposed establishment of a film village, a modern recording studio, as well as a pledge by the government to waive the import duties on musical instruments as some of the important initiatives to be taken by the government.
“I won’t say all is well now because there are still teething problems in the arts industry, especially laws that govern us.
"The copyright courts have still not been established, marketing of creative works is still being hampered by pirates and the film industry has not picked up as expected. There are still a myriad of problems but overall, my expectations have been met halfway,” he said.
In a reaction to the concerns raised by members of Creative Arts for Change, the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Alhassan Abubakar Sadiq, said the government was committed to its promises and asked stakeholders to be patient.
Touching on the Creative Arts Council which is currently headed by music producer Mark Okraku Mantey, Mr Sadiq said: “I understand the concerns being raised but the truth is that it is a gradual process and we need Parliament’s approval to give the council the legal mandate to operate.
"As we are talking, the proposal has already been forwarded to Parliament from Cabinet to be assented and we are hoping that it will be passed into law at Parliament’s next session.
“The legal establishment and existence of the Creative Arts Council will also empower the Creative Arts Fund and that is when stakeholders will feel that the government is working in their interest,” he said.
Mentioning a number of initiatives the government had undertaken, including hosting of the Year of Return, Mr Sadiq said the government was still committed to the establishment of a copyright office.
“Last month, the Tourism minister met with the chief justice to push through the agenda of establishing the copyright court but she gave a very important suggestion that the judges should be oriented so they appreciate and adjudicate such cases well when they come before them.
“That was a good suggestion and so for the time being, there is an interim copyright court to deal with such issues until what the chief justice suggested is put to plan. Besides, it doesn’t have to be Accra-centred; the concerns from creative arts people across Ghana should benefit everybody,” he stated.