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13.05.2021 Feature Article

Government Must Support but Not Underwrite Professional Film Industry

Government Must Support but Not Underwrite Professional Film Industry
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It is perfectly encouraging for Government to back the activities of the movie industry. But like the cocoa industry, as the immortalized Doyen of Gold Coast and Modern Ghanaian Politics, Dr. JB Danquah, once pointed out to then-President Kwame Nkrumah, enduring success inescapably depends on private entrepreneurship in the long haul (See “I’ll Make Film Industry Profitable – Akufo-Addo” Modernghana.com 4/28/21). The Government will be far better off concentrating on building a sound public education sector, with emphasis on the literary and the creative/performing arts as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or the Mathematical Sciences (STEM).

In both the United States and Nigeria, the film industry is almost wholly privately engineered and supported. What the Government needs to do is to invest in the massive improvement and advancement of the pool of youthful talents that could be profitably and gainfully harvested by the film and creative arts industry. I have written about this innumerable times, that what is woefully lacking presently in all spheres of the creative and performing arts is a positive spirit of competitiveness. In Nigeria, as also right here in the United States of America, competitive tournaments in the creative arts are routinely organized and sponsored in schools by either State and Federal Government or a combination of the Government and the private sector, mainly privately owned companies and big-name corporations. This is what needs to happen in Ghana.

It ought not to be the duty of the President of the Sovereign Democratic Republic of Ghana to be going around, hat-in-hand, literally begging for corporate executives, for just one strikingly embarrassing example, to step up to the proverbial plate and help sponsor the national soccer team, The Black Stars, for international Championship Tournaments. This should be the primary objective of the Executive Board and Administrators of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), that is, the ability of these handsomely salaried personnel to effectively liaise with serious and significant corporate sponsors for the purpose. Until now, the primary focus of the executive operatives of our National Sports Council (NSC) and the various sectoral affiliates has been the self-enrichment of these, for the most part, paraprofessional and largely political parasites. This needs to promptly and radically change. We need a seismic shift of paradigm in the way that business is conducted in these para- and quasi-government and/or public establishments.

In the area of the literary and creative arts, the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the Ministry of Education (MoE) need to focus on the establishment of special schools for talented writers and performing arts youths and entry-level teachers and administrators who are interested in training the next generation of literary titans and globally competitive performing artists. This is where we will need the massive support of the governments of countries that have established their global dominance and preeminence in this vital area of endeavor, such as China, the United States of America and India, for just a handful of examples. We could also, of course, learn a thing or two from our Nigerian neighbors, the foremost leader of the present-day Continental African Film Industry.

I am quite certain that the Chinese will be willing to collaborate with Ghana in this even far more professionally enduring and lucrative industry than in the ecologically and existentially destructive Galamsey or illegal small-scale mining industry. Glibly trotting out the humongous figures of profits accrued to the economies of the United States of America and Nigeria by the movie industry is far less significant than a demonstrable determination on the part of Ghanaian private entrepreneurs to facilitate a replication of the same in our country. Where the Government of Ghana comes in regards the nonprofit provision of industry-boosting incentives for individual and corporate investors in the movie industry. The recent provision of € 45 Million (Euros) by the Government of Ghana for the retooling and upgrading of the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) into a world-class facility is a laudable step in the right direction, for which a progressive and visionary President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo must be unreservedly commended in toto.

But, of course, the need for the establishment of an organic and viable “infrastructure” in the form of well-prepared or internationally viable or competitive film-industry candidates from the kindergarten or even prekindergarten to the university level of education can be scarcely gainsaid. Equally undeniable is the need to providing professional training facilities for the non-formally educated but very talented film-industry worthy candidates.

*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York

May 2, 2021

E-mail: [email protected]

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