Creative Arts; A means to attain the SDGs

The Creative Arts industry has consistently demonstrated resilience to many crises over decades all over the world; be it coup d’états, political unrest, economic crisis, health pandemics, lack of legislation and regulatory regimes etc. This resilience is largely due to the upsurge of global demand and export of culture and creative works.

According to a UNDP report, global exports of creative goods and services, ideas and creativity-centred industries have more than doubled from 2002 to 2008, reaching nearly US$600 billion. This is underpinned by a well-designed copyright law and policy framework in advanced economies.

Cultural and creative industries is the single largest employer spanning across these sectors; arts and crafts, jewelry making, advertising, design, website and graphic designs etc, entertainment (showbiz, music, dance, acting, filmmaking), architecture, books, poetry, playwrights, media (Radio and TV, social media, online publications and streaming), software developing, gaming (animation, cartooning etc.), fashion design, photography and videography, artisans, catering services, event organization etc.

These fields of creative discipline, talent and skilled labour force are extremely important component in accelerating human development. It can be attributed to the application of physical and emotional demonstration of innate creativity endowed in humans and its relationship with society and its values.

Creative arts serve as a source of empowerment for people by equipping players in the industry to take ownership of their own developmental needs. It inspires innovation which enhances sustainable growth at the individual level whiles it builds and develops the entire industry.

It has the potential of creating and absorbing a lot of talents through job creation, there is the capacity to employee millions of individuals along the value chain. The creative industry holds a major key to rapid and permanent economic transformation, socio-economic growth, promotion of cultural and political awareness and innovation.

It contributes to diversity and social inclusion, social and political tolerance and sustainable human development at all levels. The 2004 UNDP Human Development Report makes a case for respecting diversity and building more inclusive societies through policies that recognize cultural differences and multicultural perspectives.

People from diverse backgrounds and social class are seen playing different roles in the creative economy. It accommodates the well-educated and less privileged who possess a lot of talent and creativity. Surprisingly, consumer preference has segmented market for all classes of people with varied taste be it indigenous or sophisticated.

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It is interesting to note that, the creative arts is one sector that promotes SDG5 (Gender Equality), SDG8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and SDG10 (Reduced Inequality). Activities in the creative sectors ensures the inclusion of youth and women as compared with other sectors of the economy.

In Ghana, it is estimated that, there are more youth and women in the creative industry than men. They play a dominant role by means of their output and impact to the economy. The creative products and handiworks of women spans from; hairdressers, seamstress, fashion designers, make-up artist, beads makers, kente weavers, ceramics, caterers etc. these activities sustain the economy, harnesses potential and offers decent means of livelihood.

The introduction of modern technology and the use of the internet give developing countries a means of reaching out to diverse consumers and provides many options to promote their creative works to the global market. An UNCTAD-UNDP publication projects Nigeria’s US$2.75 billion film industry is the third largest in the world, following the US and India.

Nigeria’s ‘Nollywood’ produces more than 1,000 films annually, creating thousands of jobs and is the country’s second most important industry after oil. In recognition of its importance, the Government has invested in the film industry, reforming policies and providing training to promote film production and distribution.

We can imagine the massive contribution of the many other sectors of the creative arts industry if we harness the untapped potential by investing into them whiles a legislative regime and policy is implemented.

We have seen the importation of trade in different forms usually through soap operas from India, Mexico, Brazil, Spain amongst other. Our television screens are filled with foreign content mostly movies, music videos, documentaries, cartoons just to mention a few. Sadly, most of these contents are unwholesome especially for kids and the youth.

Stakeholders in the creative arts should be interested in exporting some of their fine works, it is easy to penetrate due to the use of technology. Thankfully, there is a huge Ghanaian community in the diaspora who are yearning for content from home. We need to harness the potential in the digital space to ensure maximization of the gains. There is the need for collaboration, most critically in filmmaking, music amongst others. This will help build capacity and the transfer of knowledge.

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One significant achievement is the passage and signing into law the Development and Classification of film Act, Act 935. The National Film Authority was set up and is mandated to regulate and streamline the ecosystem of film in Ghana. Its been recognized that film is an important vehicle for socio-cultural and economic development.

The NFA is committed to working with all its stakeholders to ensure that Ghana is well positioned on the global landscape as a progressive nation with a strong drive to promote and facilitate high-quality productions to appeal to a global market. Another progress made is the inauguration of the Film Classification Committee (FCC), which is responsible for benchmarking the categorization, classification, standardization, and preview of film content intended for viewership.

However, government is yet to set up the Film Development Fund as required by the Act. This fund is expected to provide financial support for the development and production of activities in the filmmaking sector. Government is being encouraged to demonstrate interest in filmmaking by setting up the fund.

Ironically, the Creative Arts Bill is still waiting to be passed into law by parliament. This bill has gone through many amendments over the years. The Bill, when passed into law will serve as a legal instrument that will help in coordinating and regulating all the sectors of creative arts.

Under the (Creative Arts Bill), government is required to established a fund to empower the creative arts and an agency to promote the industry. The bill will again enable government to organize the Creative Arts Industry and create an enabling environment through a policy framework, direct and indirect support for industry players and a legislative instrument for stakeholder engagement across the entire value chain.

Clearly, there is the urgent need to review our educational curricular to inculcate the identification and development of potentials from childhood. Our schools have the responsibility to help harness creativity and innovation from schools. Massive investment is needed to help build facilities nationwide for practical training right from childhood development.

However, the private sector is not left out, they are encouraged to channel portions of their CSR interventions into the promotion and development of the creative arts, it creates jobs even for the uneducated who will ordinarily not qualify for employment. There are people who cannot read and write but are able to use their creative ability to make meaning and creative relevance for their trade.

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The creative arts contribute directly and indirectly to GDP growth. The creative economy is not only a growing sector of the world economy, but also transformative in generating income, jobs and exports. According to a study by Oxford Economics, globalization and new technologies have accelerated cultural interactions among countries.

This export of creative goods has been growing at about 12% annually in the developing world in the last 15 years. Ghana is endowed with untapped skilled talent and these creativities can be transformed into economic gains and a chance to contribute to the innovation economy and other sectors through supply chain effects. This present a limitless opportunity for a progressive policy that will accelerate and sustain progress it offers

A UNDP report suggest amongst other things that, countries need to integrate the opportunities and challenges related to creative arts into their national development plans, strategies and budgets. Again, greater effort needs to be devoted to protecting intellectual property rights. Failing to properly reward creators is holding back growth. Legal frameworks that protect the rights of creators and secure fair remuneration for them is key.

Also, culture often transcends borders and there is the need for an improved international and regional cooperation. Nurturing talent is vital for creative arts, the cross-fertilization of ideas, leveraging new technologies and learning from mistakes are important for any economic sector. They play a fundamental role in the cultural and creative sectors. Governments and higher education institutions have an important role in attracting, developing and retaining talent.

A sound understanding of the challenges and opportunities is vital for planning and policy making. Collecting and analyzing data should be a priority to support better policies going into the future.

The creative industry has expanded and contributed immensely to human development cultivating more respect for indigenous creative production, fighting exploitation and gender bias. It is one surest means of creating awareness for our cultural heritage and traditional values. It is a trade of old which requires investment through public-private partnership by way of policy and infrastructure development.

Source: Bright Ampadu Okyere (An SDG Advocate) and Lead Partner SDG Alliance-Ghana Email: [email protected] Twitter: @ghanasdg Facebook: SDG Alliance-Ghana Tel. # 0244204664