- Title: GHANA-STREET FESTIVAL Ghana's Chale Wote festival focuses on the business of art
- Date: 24th August 2015
- Summary: VARIOUS OF ZAKARI RUFAI, ARTIST PAINTING A MURAL
- Embargoed: 8th September 2015 13:00
- Location: Ghana
- Country: Ghana
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA893RF36WY2EQSW8IQLU6S0FXX
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Thousands flooded Ghana's port city neighbourhood of James Town to see what the country's artists had to offer this year at the 5th edition of the Chale Wote festival.
The streets were transformed into a gallery of sorts as everyone from painters, graffiti artists, designers and performing artists displayed their work in a way that made it accessible to the public.
This year the theme was 'African Electronics' - a reference to the creative power of Ghana's art talents and how that has always helped the country emerge from difficult moments in history.
Once a model for Africa, Ghana's has seen growth shrivel in the past two years as it battles a fiscal crisis and weaker prices for its commodity exports, frequent power blackouts that have angered voters and hurt businesses.
Chale Wote organisers say the art community can provide some solutions.
"We are creating a counter economy, the creative economy is gonna take over this country, you know the creative is going to save this country," said Mantse Nii Aryequaye, Chale Wote festival organiser.
"We are building our own bridges on our own not through some state sponsored initiative or some international cultural institutions sponsored initiative, we're doing it on our own," he said.
Chale Wote, means "man, let's go" in the local Ga language and the festival's vision is to bring more people in contact with the arts by breaking creative boundaries and rejuvenate public spaces.
Zakari Rufai works with a collective of arists called Nima Muhimanchi Art (NMA). They are dedicated to empowering youth by changing public areas of Accra using murals and graffiti. The work of the NMA can be found in several public spaces around Accra - the city authorities allow it as an activity for the youth.
Rufai says art - especially informal street art, is an untapped resource for Ghana.
"If they're able to listen to every artist of this nation who did something like this for the public I think they can change the image of this country," he said.
The number of visitors to the three day event was good news for the artists participating and a sign that despite economic woes, art plays an important role in keeping the population hopeful.
"It is the only festival that brings people together in the city you know, because the economic situation already most of us are unemployed and we trying to survive and Chale Wote is the only way that brings people together and it's the only time we see different kind of people from different kind of lives," said Bukom Dancehall King, who performed with his band at the event.
Chale Wote was first held in 2011 and its 'Do-It-Yourself' projects, that encourage visitors to get involved in the activities like painting and modelling is seen as one of its main draws.
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