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Artlife Matters: Creating “Artitude” In Ghana’s Senior High Schools   
 
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30-Apr-2019  
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The study of arts especially Visual Art in Ghana’s second-cycle schools is one of the essential areas in building positive mindsets among the youth. Indeed, Visual Art is seen as the best form of expressing one’s self-confidence and ability.

In 1908, when Visual Art was first introduced into the school curriculum in the then Gold Coast, the objective was to develop the coordination between the students’ hand and eye to accomplish an artistic goal. At the time, the study of the course was not fully integrated into the school system until it got a major boost with the establishment of an Art Department at Achimota School in 1927 which is believed to be the first.

Consequently, art became a compulsory subject for the first three years of secondary education. According to an article by John Benjamin Kofi Aidoo (PhD) on ‘Challenges Facing Visual Arts Programme of Senior High Schools in Ghana’, published in the International Journal of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, art was considered a subject which comprised of seven sections; still life drawing, anatomical studies/life drawing, landscape, nature drawing, design and imaginative composition in colour.

Visual Art is therefore intended to assist students in their acquisition of artistic and aesthetic experiences, knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes, all of which contribute to students’ total personal development.

However, since the 1980’s, Ghanaians have had a warped perception of people pursuing art programmes especially students in high school. Although a lot of efforts are being invested in changing this perception of the arts, many still do not see art as a viable course to pursue forgetting that it is through these creative expressions that a society’s image is projected and preserved. Parents and Guardians are still indifferent and skeptical about their children pursuing courses in the arts but would hail courses like science and business. Society as a whole still looks down on artisans.

To address the need towards a change in the way art programmes are perceived, several initiatives such as ARTITUDE has been created to change the narrative about arts.

The ARTITUDE project

According to the Project Director and art enthusiast Eric Agyare, ARTITUDE is an art-based capacity building exposition that blends local insight with global standards to educate, inspire and build confidence in the arts’ space.

In highlighting some of the objectives of the project, Agyare indicated, ARTITUDE is to change the perceptions surrounding the study of art in Senior High Schools; to educate and introduce students to the economic opportunities available; to inspire positive sentiments towards the arts; and to use art as a tool for social change. In his interaction with several art students, he estimated that just about 20% of art students chose their courses, the majority of students chose Visual Arts as a second or third course and were introduced to Visual Arts because they did not make it into their preferred programmes.

 With the theme “Creating a positive attitude towards the pursuit of the arts”, the maiden edition of the ARTITUDE project is scheduled to take place at Achimota School (Art School, Music School and Assembly Hall) from 15-20 July, 2019. The one-week programme is opened to all Senior High Schools in Accra as well as arts enthusiasts. All interested participants are encouraged to visit artlifematters.org from now to the end of June, 2019.

Some of the activities earmarked for the ARTITUDE week are mural sessions where a team of professional artists and some selected students will be tasked to redesign the Art School with the thematic message and a mentoring Session with selected students who will be paired with a mentor for a week. Others include an art talk, workshops and a media encounter.

The highlight of the project will be the Art-Expo, which features exhibitions, career clinics, sales, workshops and an award ceremony. The above-mentioned activities will be opened to the general public.
 
 
 
 

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