Chris Koney’s column: Daniel Kwasi Mensah discusses state of the arts


Daniel Kwasi Mensah is a multi-talented Ghanaian artist who seeks to explore graffiti through the Ghanaian pop-culture. He is popularly known within the creative arts space as Scrapa and his talent cuts across various art forms, from oil painting, sculpture, pencil and charcoal drawing to digital drawing.

The Ghanaian arts space is currently touted as an undervalued contributor to the development of the country, unable to adequately support economic growth while promoting important elements such as social inclusion and cultural diversity.

I caught up with Scrapa, who recounted how he has been drawing from a very young age and considers arts as his God given talent, coming to him naturally. His aspiration is to build a career as a creative investor. Our conversation focused on the current state of the Ghanaian arts space.

To Scrapa, arts is a way of expressing himself, his thoughts, vision and culture through a visual representation. In addition to sculpture, graffiti and painting, he is also into acting, modeling and music as a recording artiste.

A graduate of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting & Sculpture), Scrapa is forward-thinking, hardworking and enjoys working with dynamic persons and organizations which can sharpen his skills and qualities while contributing to the success of the organization.

He admitted that there is an emerging trend around the world of a growing international interest in the potential of the creative industries to drive sustainable development and create inclusive job opportunities.

An indication of this is captured in a recent set of UNESCO guidelines on how to measure and compile statistics about the economic contribution of the creative industry which could possibly lead to the needed funding for the arts space.

Scrapa believes the creative sector in Ghana is generally not receiving the attention it ought to receive and the practitioners until recently have not been accorded the sort of respect and support they deserve.

Speaking on the state of the Ghanaian arts space, Scrapa said: “it is worthy to note that in Ghana, the arts hasn’t been where it has to be over the years, however, we have noticed some improvement in recent times and also internationally.

We are getting that shift and movement slowly but I’m optimistic we will get there. Though Ghanaian arts are getting recognized overseas, the patronage back home is very low. People still don’t realize the essence and significance of arts in our culture.”

Key stakeholders have over the years bemoaned the key elements being ignored which continually increases the challenges faced in the creative arts sector. Key amongst them is the meager logistical and financial support for the sector from the government.

Government’s role in creating the need enabling environment such as providing easy access to micro-loan facilities for expansion, funds for developing new marketable products, organizing training programmes on new technologies and creating incubation centers in vocational-based tertiary institutions for small businesses, is also another factor attributed for the challenges the sector is facing.

According to Scrapa, “there is a need for a calculated attempt at prioritizing the arts in Ghana. First of all, we need to amplify education on arts-culture, the essence and importance of the arts to us as a people and a country.

Through this, citizens will have a deeper understanding of the arts world. People travel overseas just for arts, architecture, sculptures, graffiti arts, murals and many more. I believe we can get this done in Ghana and position the country as the home of arts and culture.”

A lot of proponents for the development of arts around the world make a compelling case that cultural projects are not simply for luxury but play a fundamental role in reviving the fortunes and boosting the prospects of poor, minority and other disadvantaged communities.

According to Scrapa, civic institutions like museums, public galleries, community art organizations, performing art institutions, arts councils and public arts organizations have a rare opportunity to lead significant change by engaging specific groups to help devise and carry out creative community-building neighborhood programme.

To bring some sort of relief and help fix the challenges of the arts sector in Ghana, Scrapa mentioned that “there is the need for more contemporary art exhibitions and well organized art fairs, functioning and active art museums and more arts focused shows on the airwaves, this will go a long way to create a paradigm shift and refocus people’s perspective of the arts in general.”

Our conversation ended with Scrapa urging the government and other private parties to invest more into the sector for the creation of arts libraries, embrace a more practical approach to arts and encourage the use of more Ghanaian materials.

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