15 February 2018

Liberia: Arts and Culture Advocates Implore President Weah to Remember the Sector

Arts and culture advocates Kekura M. Kamara and Louise McMillian-Siaway have implored President George Weah to remember the development and promotion of both sectors.

In a joint statement, former Assistant Culture Minister Louise McMillian-Siaway and Kekura M. Kamara, the President of Liberia National Culture Union, explained that they are compelled to beg President Weah because, since he took office, he has not acknowledged the potential of these sectors, which is an early sign of neglect.

The statement said the promotion of culture and arts (the creative industries) will 'harness diversity, harness national talent, monetize creativity, and accelerate innovation.'

"For too long, Article 5 (b) of the Liberian Constitution, which calls for preservation, protection, and promotion of positive Liberian culture, has been neglected and nothing much done to ameliorate the situation.

"This is because past governments downplayed the development and promotion of culture and the creative industries (music, film and fashion industries and more), which should not be so. For this reason, we are pleading with President Weah not to follow the footsteps of his predecessors, who did not do much for the development of culture and the creative industries.

"The neglect of these two sectors has helped to hurt Liberia's growth and development. The creative industries create jobs, increase middle class and culture; bring about tourism, which leads to infrastructure development. So it is about time that the government pays serious attention to these two-most neglected sectors by including them in our national development agenda, which requires commitment and concrete support," the statement said.

The statement noted that globally, culture and the creative industries have been boosting economies and generating jobs, adding that such not the case in Liberia because past governments have downplayed the two sectors.

"In Nigeria alone, three years ago, the promotion of culture and the creative industries brought in an estimated revenue of a little over of US$6.8 billion, and is expected to double by next year, thereby creating lots of jobs, infrastructure development, a huge middle class, and turned young people like Davido, Wizkid, and more into millionaires.

"It's now time we follow their steps by monetizing and exporting our cultures globally by developing the creative art industries... if President Weah does so, he will help bring to reality his pro-poor governance policies. We have a rich culture and historical place that can attract tourists, and a talented population who can export the industry globally, once it is prioritized and given the necessary support."

Meanwhile, the statement explained that despite the lack of government's full support, the creative industries have been growing and are contributing enough to the economy.

"They are expanding and creating many employment opportunities for the youth. They are also core to the celebration of our diversity and aspirations. All that is needed now is President Weah to fully support these neglected sectors," the statement concluded.

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