By Bernice Bessey
The First Lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has appealed to policy makers and corporate bodies in the country to assist artists and artworks to improve upon their creation for it to meaningfully contribute to Ghana’s economy, since the sector has the capability of being Ghana’s next foreign exchange earner.
According to the First Lady, artwork has economic value that can benefit both the artists and Ghana’s economy generally.
To her, art gives distinct identities to nations, adding that it is through it that a country like Italy has acquired a unique identity, with its importance giving rise to intellectual, cultural and identity debates.
She said: “It is no wonder that civilisation is closely knit with the arts. Arts also have great economic value for both the artist and those who buy the arts. Often times, in our part of the world, we fail to see that economic value.”
She further stated the economic value of artwork is enormous, citing Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci that was first sold for £45 in the 1950s, and decades after, it was resold for $450 million in New York City, November 2017.
Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo was speaking at the launch of the Melcom Art Exhibition at the Achimota branch of Melcom in Accra.
Considering the economic benefit of artwork, vis-à-vis the impoverished conditions of many Ghanaian citizens, she advised that Ghanaians should not attach negativity with arts and its works, adding, “So, then, we ask a question. Should we bother with arts when we are dealing sometimes with bread and butter issues?”
She added that arts connect people at the personal level and offer pleasure to many individuals and even corporate entities, adding, “the answer to all these questions are emphatically, yes. Because art can connect to us at very personal levels, and a good piece of art can give pleasure to many who truly appreciate it. A piece of art work can produce a narrative that can tell us about times past, civilisation and about the artist.”
She urged the citizens to appreciate, patronise and promote the sector to boost the morale of artists, stressing that artists should also endeavour to impart their knowledge to the youth.
Godwin Avenorgbo, Communications Director of Melcom Group of Companies, on his part, called on policy makers to initiate policies aimed at promoting artwork, in order to encourage the artists.He wondered why Ghana, as a country, has over the years failed to grow the art industry, adding: “There were regular art exhibitions at the centres of art and culture that attracted large public attendances, and I recall also, with nostalgia, how many years ago Ghana Industry and Technology Fair (INDUTECH) and Ghana Trade Fair annual exhibitions had stands in pavilions for art, culture, jewelry, etc.”
He asserted that the ‘Melcom Art Exhibition’ was not a mere event, but a programme put together to help artists create works that can sell Ghana locally and internationally.
Art exhibitors at the event included (but not limited to) Esther Khaki, Ceaser Daniel, Ametepe Kukubor and Ayi Mensah. The rest are Osei Bonsu Issahaq Ismail, Odei Nyamekye, Maxwell Boadi and others.