The smart young men of MUSIGA (Musicians Union of Ghana) have taken possession of all the GH¢2million that the government set aside in its last budget to support the creative industries and President John Mahama did not know.
Only last week, when the President was making a policy statement in Accra on the direction of the country for the next four months, he told the nation that his government appreciated the potential of artists and it was in recognition of that, the last budget allocated an amount of GH¢2million to the creative industries.
He went on to indicate that his office was working towards an acceptable way of disbursing the funds to the creative industries.
The President was too late. By the time he was making the statement, half of the amount had already been paid and the second half was on its way to the headquarters of MUSIGA.
By press time Wednesday, it was unclear whether the Minister of Finance, Dr Kwabena Dufour was aware that the money meant for the creative industries comprising performing arts, music, visual art, publishing, film and traditional cultural expressions had been paid out.
That was unlikely because Dr Dufour himself was seated directly in a front row seat during President Mahama’s speech and he wouldn’t have kept quiet and allowed the President to make such a faux pas.
While practitioners in other sectors of the creative industries may be moaning over their close-shave loss, MUSIGA stalwarts insist that the money, which is reckoned to be bigger than the total budget allocation to the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture for the last four years, was theirs to take.
According to officiandos of MUSIGA, the ¢2million was meant for them because it was they who presented a proposal to the Minister of Finance in October last year asking for ¢5.5million to undertake a number of important projects.
The proposed projects included research and capacity development study, continuous professional development, strengthening of music industry structures, a one week music fair, and rehabilitation of MUSIGA headquarters building.
MUSIGA Administrator, Ahuma Bosco told Showbiz last Tuesday that even before the announcement was made in the budget, they were confident that they had made a credible enough proposition to be considered by government.
He indicated that because MUSIGA was not given the total ¢5.5m that they asked for, they have had to scale down the projects that they intended to undertake.
One of the immediate activities MUSIGA is undertaking is the Ghana Music Week which is expected to attract over 500 musicians, bands, industry experts and representatives of music unions across Africa.
“The key goal of Ghana Music Week”, according to MUSIGA is to create the industry’s biggest platform to bring together and encourage participation of artistes, stakeholders, policy makers, media and music users to recognise, promote and underscore the importance and value of Ghanaian music forms.”
In response to a Showbiz question, Ahuma Bosco said that although MUSIGA had taken the ¢2m, they might consider extending some of their largesse to practitioners in other sectors of the creative industries if they present concrete proposals to them. “This is the taxpayer’s money and we’re keen to ensure that every pesewa that is given out is properly accounted for,” he said.