Consider presidential debate on creative arts

The arts have been too long neglected by campaigning politics, so to empower our arts industry, we need to start with our presidential hopefuls speaking about it, as Pulse arts writer Albert Buabeng argues.

 

The platform has seen aspiring presidential candidates answer questions on job creation, agriculture, healthcare, private sector development, energy sector, taxation, retail trading and education. Sadly, one very important sector - the arts - has on all occasions been neglected.

Politicians have shown little concern for the arts in such a way that even when they debate on education on the platform or draft their manifestos, arts is missing.

In cases where it is captured, execution becomes their nemesis. Unfortunately, a section of the media has also let the arts down. It is very heart-breaking to realise that during a media interaction with the president, no media house asks questions on arts. Meanwhile, radio and television fall under the sector. Take it or leave it, arts provide employment for many in the country.

Considering the contribution of arts to the economy and the numerous challenges bedevilling it, one can say that it will not be out of place for the IEA to include the sector in the debate so political parties through their candidates will make known to the electorate their plans for the creative arts [poetry, painting, fashion, comedy, photography, writing, bead making, music, radio, film and television etc.]

Such a course being championed by radio and television personality, Kwame Dadzie, is worth supporting.

Let no one play the ostrich! The creative arts needs a facelift. The challenges are so alarming that ignoring them spells doom for the future of the country.

Research has shown that arts enhances the cognitive ability of children; yet teaching of arts in schools leave much to be desired. The lack of teaching and learning materials coupled with teachers with little or no specialisation in the field tells how serious the country is towards the arts.

How will the subject be interesting when the one to guide the wards has no skill and affection for it?

Arts has been marginalised to the extreme that even in schools, it is considered a subsidiary course. Yes, it is sometimes the last option and people who pursue it willingly are labelled as blockheaded.

To what extent has the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts contributed to current state of the arts? It is undoubted that government some years back gave two million Ghana cedis to the sector.

Again, government allocated an amount of GH₵38,918,393.00 to the ministry for the year 2016. But what about the apparent dormancy of the ministry? How vibrant does government intend making it? Won’t be better if the Creative Arts is separated from Culture and Tourism just so due attention will be given it? Or won’t it be best to have a different persons to deputise the Creative Arts and the other two? Or need the nation maintain the ministry and beef up something else? A presidential debate on arts will explore all these.

It is disheartening to see that after the National Theatre was built under Flt. Lit. J.J Rawlings’ administration, no government has been able to build another auditorium for entertainment programs. This has led to immense pressure on the available ones which are mostly not maintained occasionally. As for the Broadcasting Bill which is yet to be assented after years in Parliament, the least said about it the better.

The creative arts sector is serving as a source of income for a number of people. How do the politicians intend to roll out feasible policies for its improvement? Let it not be that the only time they think of the sector is when they need them for campaigns. Of course, creative arts people who choose to join political parties one way or the other get gratifications for it; but is it wrong to say they are taken for granted? They are used and dumped afterwards. Sounds like, “we paid you for your service, we are done so find your way.” When we forget that the sector if given the necessary support will curb the unemployment which politicians have been preaching a total reduction to.

Already, some stakeholders have formed groups to support the two major political parties.

Whereas there is Creative Arts for Change backing New Patriotic Party (NPP), the National Faithfuls For Mahama is seeking to canvass votes for the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC). This shows that people in the arts somewhat believe in these political parties and will be fair to outline what they have in stock for the arts.

For the realisation of this beautiful dream, various bodies in the arts should collectively petition the IEA to allow for a slot for arts during the questioning.

#PresidentialDebateOnArts

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