Developing National Arts and Culture
THE ROLE OF CENTRES FOR NATIONAL CULTURE
By: Michael Akenoo
That the Centres for National Culture throughout the country are the pivots of cultural promotion and development in the country cannot be disputed. And for this reason, there is the need to ensure that these live up to expectation in order to perform this crucial role for the progress and development of the country.
Chronologically, the Centres for National Culture, formerly called Arts Centres, were set up in the 1950s during the time of President Nkrumah’s regime to coordinate with the arts Council of Ghana in Accra in the performance of the council’s mandatory role of promoting and developing the Ghana culture. President Nkrumah was a strong advocate for the promotion and development of the arts and culture and wanted the Arts Council of Ghana, to play this important role to accelerate the progress and development of the country.
The overthrow of President Nkrumah in February 1966 did create a big set back in the promotion and development of the arts and culture of this country as everything that Nkrumah planned was abandoned and successive governments that came after him did very little as far as the promotion arts and culture were concerned. Thus, there was a decline in the promotion and development of the arts and culture of this country and consequently, the country suffered in this respect.
It is quite evident that the Centres for National Culture in the country have not performed to expectation owing to a number of negative factors that exist in the modus operandi of these cultural centres. Even though the centres were subjected to a riorious restructuring during the era of Dr. Mohammed Ben Abdallah as the PNDC Secretary for Education and Culture in the 1980’s to enhance their performance, they are still found wanting in this crucial role as the points of cultural development and transmission.
A critical analysis and observation of the factors that tend to frustrate the efforts of these cultural centres show the lack financial support and logistics as well as competent and well motivated staff, hence their inability to perform creditably to meet expectation. In fact, a visit to some of these centres reveals total neglect and the non existence of basic infrastructure that makes it impossible for the centres to function as expected. It is therefore a matter of urgency that these deplorable situations prevailing in the cultural centres in the country must be addressed to in order to ensure their viability.
In order to improve the performance of the Centres for National Culture, I will make the following suggestions: The National Commission on Culture, under the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture, should develop a more effective mechanism of oversight of these centres with the view to making them function effectively in their mandated rule. To this end, the Commission should be able to provide adequate financial support and logistics to the centres to enable them to be up and doing with their tasks facing them. The commission should also ensure that the cultural centres are staffed by trained and competent personnel who have deep interest and love for the promotion and development of Ghanaian culture. The Commission should also see to offer a highly attractive remuneration and fringe benefits to the staff of these centres as far as their conditions of service are concerned. This will go a long way to highly motivate the personnel of these centres to work hard and efficiently.
In addition the National Commission on Culture should develop a scheme for further training, locally or internationally, to upgrade their knowledge and skills of the personnel of the various Centres for National Culture in the country in order to keep them abreast with the most up-to-date trends in the promotion and development of culture. The Commission should also plan and organize annual competitions among the various cultural centres in the country and declare the best cultural centre of the year.This should attract handsome and attractive prizes. This spirit of competition will definitely contribute tremendously to enhance the performance of these cultural centres, and consequently make them have great impact in the development process of Ghanaian culture.
In conclusion, I have the conviction that if the centres for National Culture are given priority attention and provided with the necessary infrastructure in terms of equipment, facilities, and with adequate financial support coupled with highly attractive conditions of service and other incentives the cultural centres will certainly rise to the occasion to meet their great tasks as the pivots of cultural renaissance in the country. Consequently, Ghana will experience a great measure of progress and development to place her among the fast developing countries of the world today.
The Writer is a Theatre Critic.
TIME WEEKEND - page: 16 Saturday, September 12, 2009