Arts and crafts industry advocates legal framework

Stakeholders in the arts and crafts industry are advocating the enactment of a law for public places to embody indigenous arts and crafts that express the cultural values and historical experiences in Ghana.

Led by the ATAG Craft Network Association of Ghana (ACNAG) in collaboration with Ghana Association of Visual Artists (GAVA), the advocacy programme is sponsored by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC).

ACNAG is a cluster of small and medium-scale craft producers, local retailers, exporters, export agents and designers seeking to network all stakeholders in the craft sector with the purpose of enhancing the businesses of its members.

The association identified at its regular monthly meetings that in the recent past years, their members as well as players in the art and craft industry have been confronted with several challenges regarding the patronage of their products, especially in the domestic market.

The greatest challenge remains the consistent lack of awareness of the importance and use of local art and craft by many Ghanaians, and their perception  that some art and craft items such as masks and sculptured wooden items are demonic.

Brieifing the Daily Graphic on the advocacy,  the President of ACNAG, Mr Mawuli Akpenyo, said the association indicated that their businesses were not growing and remained micro and small enterprises with very little revenue generated. Imports, especially those from Asia, are sold cheaply on the local market, making it difficult for the local crafts to compete.

He also stressed that the government was not using Ghanaian cultural products in public places and that such places did not reflect Ghanaian culture and aesthetics. Ghanaians and people of other cultures, therefore,  were not aware of  Ghanaian art and craft and their functions or historical significance; neither did they appreciate their value.

The members, he also explained, were of the opinion that the government’s actions undermined their businesses and did not create an environment for their businesses and the art and craft industry to develop.

The repercussions of these challenges, the association noted, had been a drastic reduction in the association’s members’ production capacity by about 60 per cent, which has also affected the employment ability of their companies.

A survey conducted prior to the initiation of the advocacy programme showed that if all relevant stakeholders would act positively to ensure the enactment of the law, the benefits that would accrue to the association and other players in the industry would be enormous.

These include an improvement in the use of local art and craft, preservation of culture and heritage, as well as helping to market the nation’s culture to the outside world.

The formation of the association became necessary when members of the ATAG Trade Network increased and they needed to be organised to become more proactive in utilising available opportunities to promote the growth of their enterprises.

The association’s main objective is to rely on the collective strength of members to seek assistance and generally ensure the growth of their businesses.

ACNAG also seeks to advocate a better business environment for the art and craft industry in Ghana, promote the welfare of its members and also create opportunities for networking with development partners in Ghana, Africa and the entire world.

The formation of the association was spearheaded by Aid to Artisans Ghana in 2008 and it has 243 registered members, out which about 95 are active.

Source: Daily Graphic

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