The 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 yesterday that the cultural policy is 'dormant' and virtually silent on the music industry, in spite of the huge contributions that the industry can 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 unfavorable business climate as it gave no hope to the music industry.
He noted that even though music and culture are captured under the GPRSII, there have not been any practical steps by the state to help the industry to realise its full potential.
Mr Mensah-Twum noted for instance that cultural outfits of Ghana's foreign missions are 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 said the effort is 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 are available and accessible to industry players and to the general public.
Mr Mensah-Twum said as part of the efforts, BUSAC, which has previously funded capacity building in the music industry, has 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.
He noted that through pragmatic steps at promoting music as a major national development commodity, South Africa now ranked among the leading earners from the music industry, rubbing shoulders with developed countries like the United Kingdom, where the value of cultural goods contributed about 100 billion pounds sterling to their gross domestic product (GDP).
He said the advocacy effort will also include activities such as press conferences, publications of articles and discussion programmes in the media, which will also be funded by BUSAC to pool ideas from wider sources to inform a more friendly policy.
Mr Mensah-Twum said GAPI will 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 co-operation 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,' he said.