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Don’t demolish the Arts Centre – Creative artists tell government

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Some creative artists in the country are not happy with the decision by the government to demolish the Centre for National Culture (Arts Centre) in Accra, to pave way for the Marine Drive Project.

The Arts Centre is situated on the 241-acres of land at the beachfront which has been marked for the project.

The Marine Drive Tourism Investment Project is a 241-acre redevelopment scheme to build Accra’s waterfront initiated by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

It is a scheme that would establish an iconic skyline for Accra and transform the capital city’s centre into a world-class tourism enclave.

The Marine Drive will also provide essential infrastructure to support the country’s developing cultural and creative industries.

Oswald Okaitei, a playwright and poet, is a member of a group that is kicking against the demolition of the centre.

In an interview on Citi TV’s ‘Breakfast Daily’ on Friday, October 29, 2021, Oswald said the arts industry needs more art centres so it was not a good decision to pull down the Arts Centre in Accra.

According to him, the marketers of the artworks could be moved to the new place being put up by the government at Kawukudi but the performance centres and the art galleries should be kept and integrated into the Marine Drive facilities.

“The Arts Centre has archaeological and historical value, and in terms of promoting the arts, there are people who live in Chorkor, who live in Bukom, who reside in Osu who do not have money to get vehicle to the rehearsal centre. Once you demolish that place it means all these people need to walk to Kawukudi,” he said.

The arts centre is the home of art forms such as painting, artefacts, sculpture, textiles, among others.

Speaking to the artisans at the centre, they told Citi TV that even though they are ready to move to the new area, they would plead with the government to ensure it has all the facilities.

Some said the new place does not even have a parking lot.

They also complained that since the centre was fenced for the Marine Drive Project, they have recorded low sales because a lot of people think they have been moved from the area.

“There is news going around that the centre has been moved but we are still here. People have taken advantage of the marine drive project, peddling information that we are no longer here. We are pleading with the government to make an announcement that we are still here, so people will come and buy our things,” one of the art marketers said.

According to Oswald, the new place lacks a theatre and a gallery, a reason he pleads with the government not to completely pull down the entire structure at the Arts Centre but to consider renovating it.

The Marine Drive Project is expected to be completed in 2027.

Main auditorium at the Arts Centre
The Arts Gallery at the Arts Centre in Accra

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