The Vice-President, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, has reiterated the government's commitment to empower the arts and culture industry for it to contribute to the socio-economic development of the country.
He said the culture industry was a tool for economic development but expressed worry over the fact that apart from Ghana's first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who had supported the industry, successive governments had ignored it.
Mr Mahama made the commitment when members of the Ghana Culture Forum (GCF) paid a courtesy call on him at the Castle, Osu, on Monday.
They were at the Castle to introduce the organisation and seek collaboration with the government on how to engage professionals in the arts and culture industry in the national development agenda.
Launched in March 2012 with the support of UNESCO, the GCF has representatives from the School of Performing Arts of the University of Ghana, the National Commission on Culture, the Institute of Music and Development, the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board and the UNESCO Office in Accra.
The Vice-President noted that culture went beyond drumming and dancing and that it embodied the whole nation.
He underscored the need for Ghanaians to change their attitude towards culture and begin to approach the cultural industry with a business mindset.
He said it was in that regard that the government had allocated GH˘2 million to support the arts and culture industry.
He indicated the readiness of the government to work with the relevant bodies to work out the modalities for the disbursement of the fund.
He lauded artistes for promoting Ghana's culture in their music, films and drawings.
Mr Mahama expressed worry over the piracy of people’s intellectual property, with some people photocopying whole books and recording music on compact discs without permission.
The Chairperson of the GCF, Prof. Esi Sutherland, called for policies and actions geared towards the restoration of the country's culture as an important part of the total and fundamental effort at making the critical paradigm shift in national development.
She said the forum would engage in further advocacy with key policy-making bodies to support the arts and culture sector, reinvigorate cultural activism and build the capacities of arts and culture organisations.
Prof. Sutherland appealed to the government to involve professionals in the arts and culture industry in the taking of strategic decisions for the nation, since that could share experience as to where the country was coming from and where it needed to go to.
She called for increased public and private funding for the arts and culture industry and the government's support for the ratification of UNESCO conventions on cultural development, including the Universal Copyright Convention, the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage and the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.