Deputy Minister of Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Dzifa Gomashie, nearly had a rancorous encounter with entertainment editor Halifax Ansah Addo of the Daily Guide and News One when the minister took exception to the tone and demeanor of Mr. Addo in making his submission on the role the ministry has played in advancing the creative arts.
Dzifa Gomashie appeared on the show having been to film distribution hub Opera Square within the week to get first-hand information as to reasons why for two weeks no new film had hit the market as reported on Peace FM.
In making her submission, the minister cum queen mother stated that the encounter with the movie producers revealed power outages, competition from foreign movies, TV stations showing recently released locally made movies and piracy as being the major factors killing the movie industry as little or no return is made on investment.
Mamma Dzramedo I added that an agreement was reached to have the movie makers confer with her at the ministry to have a deliberate discussion and chart the way forward. As to claims that the creative arts is being neglected in preference for its senior colleagues Tourism and Culture, madam Gomashie acknowledged that since the creative arts ministry is a new creation, legal hurdles are being overcome so it can have a solid footing as its counterparts.
She however opined that there was no need to separate the ministries rather as is done for the Education Ministry, “a supervising minster must head the Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts ministry but there ought to be a figure head for each of the three arms reporting to the supervising minister as is the case for Tertiary and Basic schools in the Education ministry.”
She added realignments are taking place at the ministry to streamline the agencies working under the ministry stressing that unlike private business, governmental business involves bureaucracy and dealing with colleague ministers and sector heads which takes time.
According to the actress and owner of Mama Dzifa’s Kitchen although some industry members presume nothing has been achieved, certain advances have been made. She mentioned setting up the framework for the creative arts spanning new media, fashion, dance, music, film, craft, arts and others.
The deputy to substantive minister Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare also stated that it is during their “tenure that the first and second drafts of the film bill have come into being and although parliament is yet to pass it for the president to append his signature, stakeholders can lobby parliamentarians so the film bill is passed as the ministry continues to push for the passage.”
The queen mother in charge of protocol at the Aflao Traditional Area also pledged that although it’s taken a while, the 1 million Ghana cedis disbursed to the ministry to be given to creative art persons with a plan but in need of cash shall be disbursed before the 2016 elections as the application window closed in September.
The producer of the ‘By the Fireside’ hosted by Grace Omaboe in stating the achievements of her ministry added that “seminars and conferences have been organized for members to get abreast of new trends in the art filed as well as held deliberations under the Culture Forum.”
The queen who holds an Mphil, BFA, Theatre Arts, Gender Studies, from the University of Ghana, Legon also urged those in the arts fraternity to visit the ministry’s website to know the mandate they are working with as well as agencies aligned to the ministry adding the president Mahama needs to be commended for giving the arts its own ministry.
“to give support to those involved in the craft work, corporate entities have been entreated to buy such works as souvenir for colleagues so the makers can obtain money not only from foreign tourists.” She stated.
On the issue of actors, musicians and other creative people being denied visa’s she promised to liaise with the Foreign Affairs ministry to find out why even with the ministry’s letter head members find it difficult to travel.
On ways of addressing the piracy threat, the one-time President of students of Performing Arts pledged to get in touch with the security heads as to how the piracy gangs can be tracked, fined and prosecuted.
Halifax for his part seemed unconvinced and having stated earlier in another interview that the high esteem he held the honourable minster had dropped due to their inactivity at the ministry, tempers were bound to flare and they did when they met in person.
According to Halifax, when the host asked the minister their achievement since taking charge, her answers boarded on talk and little evidence on the ground adding that he was scandalized that for the 2 weeks that no new movie had hit the market, the Deputy Minister was in the dark about the development till Peace FM’s broadcast jolted her to the Opera Square.
In a battle of being blunt to a minister paid with the public purse that she has done little for the creative arts since assuming power and being mindful that that person is not only a state officer, an elder but a queen mother and words must be chosen carefully to convey a message. Opinions meanwhile continue to be divided.
In one breath some hail Halifax for his bluntness and bravery while others reckon his choice of tone and words were reckless and overbearing.
For Arnold Asamoah Baidoo, even though he heard talk months ago of a creative arts council, he is yet to hear or see development of the council adding that such a council can solve the many beauty pageant battles regarding prize money and rewards.
Arnold also stressed the need for the broadcasting and film bill to be passed to help streamline the sector adding that the communication/PR unit of the ministry must be sharp in conveying achievements and activities of the ministry to the public such that an informed public shall not be distrustful of the ministry.
michael eli dokosi/blakkpepper.com