Amy Appiah eyes reforms at National Theatre
The Executive Director of the National Theatre of Ghana, Mrs. Amy Appiah Frimpong, has set her sights on revamping the citadel of creative arts in the country and she reckons her determination and zeal would carry her throughout her tenure.
Appointed as the Executive Director on November 2016 with the responsibility of providing strategic leadership, operational and administrative direction for the achievement of the mandate of the organization, Mrs. Frimpong is raring to go.
She also happens to be the first female to take up the role of the Executive Director and even though she concedes the expectations and challenges remains, she is not resting on her oars.
For this remaining month’s ahead, one of her priority’s is to draw up attractive business plans to woo companies and businesses to become part of the new wind blowing at the Theatre.
Among such strategies has to do with raising its visibility through extensive, high-profile branding opportunities, enhancing its image through association with a venue that represents quality, excellence and success.
Management also reckon building its brand values through association with an innovative, modern, community-oriented venue is the way to go.
Under the auspices of “Friends of the Theatre”-an initiative launched by management a year ago-the seating has been made more comfortable, complete with aesthetically pleasant new seat covering, also with support from GTP, which donated the fabrics and Chrisaach, which has re-laid the entire interior.
With unreliable power cuts and a mounting electricity bills in the past, thanks to Mrs. Frimpong, the company has managed to clear its outstanding debt which stood at GH?600,000 debt owed the Electricity Company of Ghana.
Having paid that debt, it costs the theatre today, an average of GH?90,000, a month to ensure continuous flow of power.
According to the CEO, “there has been a shift in the way we do business here. In those good old days, ”she recalls “government subvention took care of utility bills. That’s no more. Now all these costs have to be passed on to the event organisers”.
In their quest to be innovative and promote theatre, management under Amy has organized outreaches to Winneba and Sekondi Takoradi, on the back of popular community events such as Aboakyre, Fetu Afahye, Bakatuei and Kundum, annual traditional festivals, to promote the Concert Party and other art forms.
Among her accomplishments, one year on is that she has been able to devise and execute a plan to diversify the ‘Theatre’s funding streams, executed a staff audit and skills audit to enable staff work efficiently.
She also completed the repair works for the central air conditioning system for the theatre, as well as the completion of the design and posting of a new website.
However, there has been an obstacle in the way of outreach, which is transportation, the theatre has only two buses, which are more than 15 years old.
She explains that; “You can’t send any of the two buses out on errands, even in Accra, and expect them to either arrive at destination or make a return trip. You will have to call a mechanic.”
Back in the day, the Theatre had flagship programmes such as Concert Party, Fun World and Kiddafest which used to be money making events.
Clearly reviving such flagships event would take more efforts as they would need to rebrand and repackage any innovation they intend to introduce to catch up with the time.
Furthermore, to despite management’s appeal to have corporate bodies coming on board, it also behooves on them to do in terms of logistics; more stage lights for the main auditorium, chairs, PA systems for the Exhibition hall which would attract event organisers to rent the place and be prepared to pay extra to keep the facility in shape.
Management as part of their strategies can collaborate with the universities to learn best practices in theatre arts and build a brand that has both local connections and international appeals.
Born to late Joseph Samuel Appiah, a founding member of the Dankwa-Busia-Dombo tradition in the Western region and a close ally to former President Kufuor and President Akufo Addo, current President of Ghana, Mrs. Frimpong also known as Nee Appiah, behind the scene has done a lot for the ruling party which she was born into.
For instance in 2016 when the New Patriotic Party(NPP), then opposition party were prevented from using the Accra International Conference Centre for lecture to be delivered by Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia, Mrs. Amy Frimpong came out of the blues to rescue the party by giving them the National Theatre for the program, as the saying goes, “blood is thicker than water”.