The Center for National Culture, popularly known as the Arts Centre in Accra, has played a pivotal role in the development of the creative arts industry and the nation at large.

In this day and age when unemployment remains a challenge, the center is creating jobs for millions, especially potters, visual artists, traders, dance and other cultural groups, etc.

It also contributes to the growth of the GDP since a percentage of artworks sold at the center goes into the national coffers.

An art gallery at the Center for National Culture

Not only has it diligently served these purposes, but it also has served as a hub for preserving national culture.

Since its inception in 1961, the center has served as a hub for promoting and sustaining culture and has housed thousands of artworks from great creative artists ranging from sculpture, paintings, artifacts, and remains the only National Gallery for fine arts. It also serves as a centre for tourist attractions.

It is for this reason that the creative artists who ply their trade at the center are resisting a move by the government to demolish the current edifice of the center.

Government intends to pull down the structure to pave way for commencement of the marine drive project.

Although the government has justified the move with claims that the marine drive project is an investment that will rectify the dilapidated condition of the area, boost Ghana's tourism industry, and create jobs and revenue streams for the local inhabitants, the artists insist these do not override the importance of the center which has served as an embodiment of culture for many years.

Per government’s plan, the Marine Drive project will be anchored by three main infrastructural initiatives.

There will be an extension of the Osu Castle Gardens and National Museum as well as the extended Independence Square.

Credit: Visit Ghana on YouTube

The pulling down of the Arts Centre will be crucial to facilitating the fulfillment of the third anchor of the project’s plan, which is the extended Nkrumah Park and Concert Hall.

The group of artists passionately fighting against this move has started a Save The Art Centre campaign.

Parts of the Art Centre's wall cordoned ahead of demolition exercise

They have also raised concerns about the lack of stakeholders’ engagement to know the fate of the artists that will be affected by the move.

“There haven’t been enough stakeholders’ engagement. You can’t speak to one person and assume you have spoken to all of us,” Oswald Okaitei, one of the affected artists told JoyNews.

JoyNews checks indicate that the demolition exercise will commence soon, but the artists maintain they will resist any move to that effect since it does not serve their best interest.  

According to them, all attempts to push forward their concerns have proven futile as pleas and calls for a stakeholder engagement have fallen on deaf ears.

The Center has also been very instrumental in the training of great industry players such as actress and former Deputy Minister for Tourism and Creative Arts, Dzifa Gomashie, actor David Dontoh, Edinam Atatsi, Solomon Sampah among others.

It has a Visual Arts Department, a market square, as well as a theatre which also serves as rehearsal grounds for people in the various genres of arts.

Despite an assurance of relocating the center to the Community Youth Cultural Center, the artists fear many livelihoods will be lost since the new center will not be able to accommodate all of them due to lack of space.

They have also raised concerns over the demolition exercise, insisting that the new center lacks various facilities including a theatre, among others, which will facilitate their activities.

Works of visual artists displayed at the Center for National Culture

They, thus, are appealing to the government to rescind its decision of completely pulling down the structure, and consider renovating it.

“After the Rawlings administration, none of the regimes invested into the Arts Center. Government should revamp the place because it has both historical and tourist value,” Mr Okaitei added.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.