It is popularly said that Africans do not appreciate local art; yet, as countries become wealthier, arts scenes are growing larger. One of the foremost is Ghana, which is currently home to some of the most exciting art scenes on the continent.


Upon gaining its independence, the Ghanaian government, led by Kwame Nkrumah, initially supported the arts. However, the 1970s brought coups and military regimes which led to a repressive environment where art was not appreciated. But that’s all in the past — Ghana is currently experiencing a renaissance.


African art

(Tumblr/Louise Burke)

One one side, there are the posters that were initially made in the 1980s to advertise popular world movies for cinema. They feature gaudy and sometimes obscene artwork intended to get people excited and wanting to see more. Although this pop art form gradually fell out of interest, Ghanaian movie posters are now collector’s items sold for thousands of dollars in art galleries across the United States and Europe. International demand has led to a resurgence of interest where Ghanaian artists now paint and ship posters on demand.


Western audiences have often been mentioned, but it will be too hasty to conclude that international interest is solely driving the growing Ghanaian arts scene. Rather, Ghanaians are setting their own pace — organizing events, exhibitions, and readings that support local artists and raise public interest in the arts. Cultural organizations such as the Nubuke Foundation and ACCRA [dot] ALT are among the most renowned. ACCRA [dot] ALT is behind the ever-growing Chale Wote street arts festival, which will be five years old this year. The Chale Wote festival is a platform through which Ghanaian artists create and collaborate with African and international artists over the course of a two-day street festival.


This growth has not been without its challenges. There still remains a lack of promotion and coverage for most organized local events. The threat of plagiarism has also risen from corporations attempting to profit from art installed for free public consumption. The Chale Wote festival has seen big corporations use artists’ works for advertising campaigns without permission of either artist or organization. Nonetheless, the rising arts scene in Ghana could be a positive prediction for other African countries.


What are your thoughts on Ghana’s contemporary art scene? Leave a comment below or let me know on Twitter @rafeeeeta