‘Revise Culture Policy’

Francis Mensah, GAPI General SecretaryThe Ghana Association of Phonographic Industries (GAPI) is working in collaboration with the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) to seek a revision of the 2004 Ghana Cultural Policy into a forward-looking policy, particularly for the music industry.

Mr. Francis Mensah-Twum, General Secretary of GAPI, told the Ghana News Agency that the cultural policy was “dormant” and virtually silent on the music industry, in spite of the huge contributions that the industry could make to wealth and job creation, poverty reduction and national development as a whole.

The 35-page National Cultural Policy only captures music in one paragraph (paragraph 8.3.7, page 21) under Chapter IV – The Arts. The paragraph reads: “The practice, creation and promotion of all forms of Ghanaian music shall be encouraged by the state. Production of musical instruments shall be encouraged so that all schools and communities can own their own instruments.

“The state shall encourage private entrepreneurs to establish production plants and support activities to document, preserve, protect, publish and promote Ghanaian music.”

Mr Mensah-Twum said the policy failed to define any direction to promote music locally and internationally and that created an unfavourable business climate as it gave no hope to the music industry.

He noted that even though music and culture were captured under the GPRS II, there had not been any practical steps by the state to help the industry realise its full potential.

Mr Mensah-Twum noted for instance that cultural outfits of Ghana’s foreign missions were doing practically nothing to promote Ghanaian music abroad as Ghanaian musicians who travelled abroad tended to struggle on their own without any assistance from the foreign missions.

“The objective of the GAPI/BUSAC advocacy action is therefore to seek a review of the policy to ensure that it prioritises and promotes Ghanaian music and musicians on both the local and international scenes and also firmly links the music industry to other areas of national priority,” he said.

He added that the effort was also intended to make it a matter of national policy for the state to ensure that resources and facilities for both the production and appreciation of music, arts and culture were available and accessible to industry players and to the general public.

Mr Mensh-Twum said as part of the efforts, BUSAC, which had previously funded capacity building in the music industry, had also agreed to fund a study visit by members of GAPI to South Africa to learn from their experience and best practices to inform the proposed review of Ghana’s cultural policy.

Mr Mensah-Twum said GAPI would also draw on the African Union Charter for African Cultural Renaissance to give the proposed Ghana Cultural Policy a more international outlook.

“We strongly believe that with maximum cooperation from the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture through a public-private partnership (PPP) approach, the cultural industry with music as the anchor will play a major role in the country’s development agenda within a decade.”