Mr Darren Walker, the President of the Global Ford Foundation, USA, has given the assurance that the Foundation would continue to support Ghana’s art industry to thrive.
He said art was an essential part of society that provided fulfilment to the soul and showed the essence of life and the Foundation was interested in the Ghanaian art industry and would like to learn more and explore other areas of interest that would propel Ghana’s development efforts.
Mr Walker, who is in the country for the first time as President of the Foundation, described Ghana as one of the greatest countries in the world, saying, “It’s a pleasure being in Ghana to strengthen the bond of friendship that existed between Ghana and the US dating back to the 1960s”.
A cocktail party was held in his honour at the Artist Alliance Gallery, in Accra, on Sunday, to explore how businesses could take advantage of the Ghanaian creative art industry and make economic gains.
Mr Walker described Professor Ablade Glover, the Director of the gallery as a leader who had distinguished himself in the art industry both locally and internationally.
Prof. Glover conducted Mr Walker round the gallery to admire the various collection of art works including paintings, sculpture, artefacts, among others, which tell the Ghanaian cultural heritage.
Some of the unique paintings portrayed scenes of everyday life as well as some African and world leaders like Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Barack Obama of America.
As part of his visit to Ghana, Mr Walker would meet President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the Flagstaff House in the course of the week and hold other public engagements.
Mr Innocent Chukwuma, the West Africa Regional Director of Ford Foundation, said the Foundation had major interests in West Africa particularly, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.
He noted that the Foundation aims at empowering the youth and women to participate in the electoral processes, adding that democracy within the West Africa Sub-region had come of age, however the representation of women and the youth was low.
“There is high unemployment rate in West Africa and so we’re partnering with governments, civil society organisations and state institutions to make sure the young people are exposed to the skills, which will enable them to be competitive on the job market,” he explained.
He said the Foundation has therefore established a programme known as “Youth Transition”, which supports the youth with employable skills for self-sustainability.
The Foundation also played an important role in Ghana’s 2016 General Elections and supported the Electoral Commission and electoral institutions that engaged in electoral monitoring and civic education, he noted.
Apart from that, he said the Foundation had worked to ensure that public revenue and expenditure were used to address the needs of the ordinary and marginalised people in society with special focus on women and youth.
Mr Chukwuma indicated that the Foundation had 10 regional offices across the globe including China, Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and India, and that the personnel there brought their technical expertise and global presence to bear in those countries to facilitate their development agenda.
He described the gallery which had large collection of artefacts across the world as an incredible and awesome place and applauded Prof. Glover for that feat.
“It is a world class gallery and we invite everybody from every corner of the world who visit Ghana for tourism to come here,” he said.
Dr Ziblim Iddi, the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture and Member of Parliament for Gushiegu, commended the Ford Foundation for its immense support to humanity.
He said he was a beneficiary of the Foundation’s Scholarship Scheme, which supported him to study in the United States for his PhD and Masters
The Deputy Minister said the core objective of tourism was to share Ghanaian arts and culture with the outside world to attract investments into the sector.
Prof. Glover, the Director of the Gallery, said investing in art was more valuable than investing in land and bonds.
He therefore, urged the government and other corporate entities to give the art industry the needed attention in terms of resources that would spur economic growth.
He said the gallery was established to bridge the gap between studying arts and practising arts as well as giving exposure to artists to exhibit their God-given talents.
Prof. Glover urged the youth to take art education seriously because it was a potential gold mine that was very rewarding.
The visit of the President of the Global Ford Foundation attracted a cross section of the public including traditional rulers, queen mothers, artists and a former Metropolitan Chief Executive of Accra Metropolitan, Mr Nathaniel Amarteyfio.