The Ghana Dance Association (GDA) has held a dance and cultural performance to protest moves by government to relocate the Arts Centre to Ghana House on the Accra High Street, as part of measures to make way for the Marine Drive Project.
A blend of indigenous music, dance, and acrobatics, the performance also aimed at portraying the importance of arts and culture to the development of the nation.
Dubbed, ‘Save the Arts Centre’, there were displays by the Kake Dance Ensemble, Tessa Cultural Troupe, United African Theatre, Abajo Band, Dzadzeloi, Odehe Abii among others.
Explaining the rationale behind the performance, President of the Ghana Dance Association, Nana Kwame Dadzie said the GDA chose the performances to communicate its displeasure with the relocation and to also show the importance of the arts centre to Ghana’s cultural heritage. He intimated that relocating the arts centre to the Ghana House while artisans are relocated to Kawukudi at Nima was not helpful for the country’s arts and culture sector.
Describing the move as a bad idea, Nana Kwame Dadzie suggested that the arts center should be preserved as part of the Marine Drive Project instead of being demolished.
“Such an edifice of historical and cultural importance should be developed and preserved instead of demolishing it”.government officials
According to Kwame Dadzie, the GDA would continue to hold performances to press forward their demands.
Confusion over Arts Centre Relocation
The establishment of the Marine Drive Tourism Investment Project at the present Centre for National Culture (CNC) on the High Street in Accra, popularly known as Arts Centre, necessitated the relocation of performers, traders, artisans, and civil servants.
The relocation exercise, headed by the Coordinator of the Marine Drive project, Mr. Frederick Frimpong, was expected to transfer those affected to a new facility at Kawukudi, Nima, but it appeared that did not happen because of a subsequent letter that redirected the movement to another location.
An initial letter signed by Christopher Anibrika, Senior Land Administrator Officer of the Lands Commission in August 2021, indicated that the parcel of land registered and issued with a land certificate had been acquired by the state under the Executive Instrument dated April 19, 2016, for the Marine Drive Tourism Investment Project.
“Consequently, your interest in the said parcel of land has been extinguished in view of the acquisition by the State. You are by this correspondence informed of the cancellation of your land certificate”.Christopher Anibrika
The letter required that all occupants at the Arts Centre be transferred to Kawukudi where the coordinator of the Marine Drive project was building a new facility to house them.
However, another letter dated December 29, 2021, redirected the movement of government officials to Ghana House, High Street, instead of Kawukudi.
Parts of the letter read: “As part of the relocation exercise, it has become necessary to relocate the CNC Greater Accra office, which is currently located at the Marine Drive Project site. Kindly note that adequate preparations have been made for the CNC to relocate its offices to the 4th floor of the Ghana House by January 30, 2022″.
This change was not one that the officials and performing artists who practice at the Arts Centre were pleased with. To register their displeasure, the workers planned a demonstration on Monday, January 24, 2022, which was later aborted after the leadership of the various trading associations at the Arts Centre kicked against the move.
The officials at the Arts Centre questioned why the government was rescinding the decision to take them to Kawukudi as had been communicated earlier. They pointed out that relocating to Ghana House would not serve the purpose of the Arts Centre since up-and-coming artists such as poets, stage actors, and visual artists who use the centre would lose the opportunity.