Panelists at a dialogue on cultural diversity and development have urged government to make deliberate efforts to harness the abundant potentials of Ghanaian culture and arts to create jobs for the citizens.
They said the richness in the cultural diversity of Ghanaians and the arts had enormous economic benefits, which when properly harnessed, could create more jobs for the teeming youth and reduce the unemployment rate.
Professor Ernest Kwasi Ampomah, a Lecturer at the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Education, Winneba, said Chapter Three of the Ghana’s Culture Policy (2004) recognised the importance of arts and cultural education in developing talents of skilled individuals.
However, he said, arts and culture were not compulsory subjects at the senior high school level, creating a limited opportunity for students and for that matter the youth in the field.
“There is huge potential in that space and I don’t think that our leaders are not aware of the potential that exists there. We have crafted various policies and things that support this but we don’t follow,” Prof Ampomah said.
“Our Cultural Policy for instance calls for the establishment of theatres in all districts across the country and for me if we are able to do just that, it will create a lot of employment.”
The dialogue, organised by the National Commission on Culture (NCC) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), was to engender discussions on how best Ghana could tap into its cultural diversity and the arts industry, to create job opportunities for the youth and promote development.
It forms part of activities to commemorate UNESCO’s World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, which was marked on May 21, 2021.
Prof Kodzo Gavua, a Lecturer at the Department of Archeology and Heritage Studies, University of Ghana, said culture and arts must be embedded in the country’s development agenda to ensure they received equal attention like other sectors and enough revenue allocated to promote job creation.
“…You cannot separate America’s culture from America’s development, neither can you separate the Japanese or British culture from their development.’” he said.
“However, in our case, we talk about culture as if it is something separate. We must, therefore, understand what culture really is and the cultural context of development.”
He appealed to government to adequately resource cultural institutions in the country such as the National Commission on Culture to strengthen them to deliver on their mandates.
Mr George Nii Armah Quaye, the Chief Executive Officer of Image and Bureau, a communication firm, called for tax rebate for media organisations that showed commitment to advancing the cultural heritage of Ghanaians to serve as an incentive.
“When you look at jurisdictions that have developed the arts and made it very worthy and robust, the arts contribute to those economies. Gold and oil will get finished at some point but with the creative art resources, we can export forever and the interesting part is that the more you export the better it gets,” he said.
Dr Madinatu Bello, a Lecturer at the Department of Theatre Studies, University of Cape Coast, called for more leadership opportunities and empowerment for women in the arts and culture to contribute to thier development.
UNESCO has declared 2021 the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development.