Protect Ghana’s concert party – Prof Collins
Professor John Collins, lecturer at the School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana has called for the preservation of the Ghanaian popular concert party productions and comedy to enhance national development.
He said the decline in the concert party theatre productions should be a source of concern to all.
Prof. Collins was speaking at the celebration of this year’s World Theatre Day in Accra.
The day which falls on March 27th each year would be marked with speeches and performances to highlight the work of theatre in all aspects of performances with a special focus on Concert Party and performances by outstanding Ghanaian comedians.
Prof. Collins, who spoke on the topic: “The Concert Party in Ghana” explained that the concert party theaters, which started in the 1920s, was initially performed in English for the Ghanaian elite until it was popularized and translated into local languages by one Bob Johnson.
He said Bob Johnson popularized the concert party by turning it into “Ananse stories” which were performed in villages for the mass of the people who did have access to television at the time.
He said concert party theatre apart from it being used to educate the people on pertinent national and social issues such as teenage pregnancy, broken homes, prostitution and social inequality also serves as a platform for mass mobilization for national development.
Mr Michael Attipoe, Director, National Commission on Culture, who also spoke on the topic: “Can the Concert Party survive technological development” said over the years funding for concert party programmes in the country has been done mainly by the private individuals.
He said the intellectual properties of the concert party are most of the time owned by these private individuals, who tend to be the leaders of the group.
He said the concert party theatre which flourished in the 1950s started dying in the late 1970s as a result of the numerous coup d’états, which affected night life and the people who patronise such programmes.
Mr Attipoe also lamented that concert party programmes have been affected by the internet and other television programmes resulting in low patronage from the people.
He said the cinema halls and communities centres which were used for concert party activities have broken down whiles others have been taken over by churches which was affecting their programmes.
Mr Carl Ampah, a representative of United Nations Education and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) called for the protection of the Ghanaian concert party and comedy since it is a national heritage of the people.
He said government must also show its commitment to promote the various arts and cultures of the people in the country.