Popular Ghanaian actor, David Dontoh says the creative arts industry is gasping for breath because, the nation has not taken the industry "very seriously".

According to him, the once vibrant and organised industry is now experiencing gradual and continuous loss of patronage because there are no laws regulating it.  

"As a nation, we've not taken ourselves very seriously," David Dontoh stated on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, Friday, March 7, 2014.

 "If we really consider creative arts and the entertainment industry [as] an industry for real, then there should be a policy that really regulates it; directs it and gives it a certain sense of belonging such that people would respect it," he stated.

Known for the roles he played in very popular movies including; The Dead (2010), Deadly Voyage (1996) and Heritage Africa (1989), David Dontoh expressed regret that many professionals were forced to divert from the arts and entertainment industry, for lack of support.

"In many countries, people in this industry happen to be the richest but it is the opposite when you come to Ghana because, we don't have any mechanisms in protecting the arts industry in Ghana. We don't have any social security; we don't have any policy that controls what we do [and] we don't have protection against copyrights".

Apparently dejected, he said Ghana, which is preparing to celebrate a centenary of conventional theatre next year,  is missing the opportunity to use the arts to shape norms, values and ethics in the society. He fears of serious consequences if nothing is done about the situation.

"If people are not cultured, they are not disciplined, and that is where we have trouble controlling them; we have trouble ruling them…If you have a people that are unbridled, you can't control them [and] you can't harness them in any way [then] you must as well give up the ghost that I've lost it!"   

Letting it go

Contributing to the discussion, renowned playwright, Uncle Ebo Whyte said there was nothing wrong with some societal values giving way to foreign ones. "Any value that has been eroded is worth eroding" because, times have changed and so must we."

"Times change but society must evolve…Yes, we know we are Ghanaians but the world is changing. Let us evolve; let's accept influences; then that will let us grow as a people," Uncle Ebo Whyte added.

But David Dontoh said care must be taken in giving way to foreign cultures. The Ghanaian culture risks being extinct, he added.

"Culture is dynamic, Ghana is not an island; certain things must change but as a people we must have an identity. If your development takes a trajectory that avoids your history [then] you get lost in what is called 'popular culture'…What happens is that the basis of your economy collapses because, your taste now becomes popular taste.

"…At the end of the day what you'll be telling yourself is that as a civilisation you want to dissolve into history [extinct]," Mr. Dontoh cautioned.