Can GIMPA find the faculty to offer courses in 'management of the creative arts'?


Tue, 22 Mar 2022 Source: Isaac Ato Mensah

“We don’t even have regular and sufficient potable water and they want to manage the creative arts,” was my mentor’s first reaction when I told him I was at the “GIMPA Rectory” Friday for an “Evening Encounter with the Rector”.

This is not a stretch – for five days there was no water in swathes of Accra and Tema, so where and how do caterers get water to prepare a safe salad?

We waited for a full hour and a half from the 6pm announced on the invitation card before the programme began finally at 7.29pm.

During that time we were treated to a showcase of GIMPA spaces projected onto the western wall of the rector’s imposing white two-storey mansion.

The message was clear: GIMPA has land and forest property.

At the main entrance to the campus, there was already an invitation for the conferment of four honorary doctorate degrees scheduled for this week.

Among the conferees is Prof. Stephen Adei, a former rector who is widely credited with all the marketing blitz that has made GIMPA a national showpiece.

Still, pining for what really GIMPA has to offer, while sitting in the pavilion at the rector’s residence we chanced upon a glossy publication by the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College (GAFCSC).

Therein we noticed that Prof. P.E. Bondzie-Simpson, the immediate past GIMPA rector, was a member of the College Control Board of the GAFCSC.

For sure, GIMPA is influential not only within Ghana, having conferred degrees on many MPs, past and present, and public/civil servants, but in many African countries as well from where civil/public servants are sent for training.

Prof. Samuel Bonsu, the new rector, appeared at the pavilion at 7pm, one hour late.

He greeted the media personnel with fist bumps and gave an alibi in Twi, “It’s not our fault, it’s your people,” referring to the ghanaian celebrities. “This is the time they choose to arrive.”

“We are expecting 70 of them, but see the numbers seated,” he gestured to the dozen or so people seated behind the dinner tables, in response to a media man who had queried the lateness in a jovial tone.

But if we were skeptical with our own hypothesis that “ghanaian institutions major in the minor leagues”, was Prof. Bonsu not already confirming what to expect from the certificate, bachelor’s, masters “and even PhD” programmes in the management of the creative arts?

At 7.25pm, the MC appeared and took the mic.

No apologies, nothing; he just started talking and later introduced the rector.

At 7.29pm, the rector started speaking, saying “GIMPA is 60 years old”, and has thus been around for a very long time, but is not that well known.

He admitted: “We don’t know everything, we wish we did. We want to explore the creative arts. We’re considering various programmes of study in the creative arts. We’re looking at everything from the 2-day to the 4-year programmes.”

As he touted GIMPA’s trump card of “innovative thinking”, he observed, “There are no dedicated creative arts programmes in the country….. The University of Ghana has some creative arts programmes but they don’t offer the management aspects of it.”

He continued: “We hope to become the university of choice for celebrities…..The programme will be used to tell the history of the country.”

The rector then asked the audience to “imagine how much money” Hollywood and Nollywood generate into the American and Nigerian economies respectively.

Though there is no approved programme yet, the course work that will come under the broad brand name “Management of the Creative Arts” will surely start “by September this year, even if it’s a one-day” programme, he explained.

“Media management is an interdisciplinary research area devoted to studying how media organizations use scarce resources to meet the needs and wants of a given society.” says Oxfordbibliographies.com, adding that it is an intersection of “communication and business.”

At NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, for example, the 4-year bachelor’s degree programme “Creative Business, Media Management was previously offered as Media and Entertainment Management (MEM)”.

We can, therefore, surmise that the field is dynamic and adaptable or if you like, it is an eclectic field which is still in the process of being clearly defined and formulated.

Some of the established programmes boast of “Internship options at prestigious companies like Nintendo, MTV, and Walt Disney.”

We were informed that GIMPA is shopping for consultancy/creative ideas from some ghanaian media anchors/celebrities, some of whom were present.

But the same cohort can hardly take an issue of national importance and write a critical feature story/editorial on it, according to the awards committee of the Ghana Journalists Association.

Now throw in the production management of documentaries/films about our history and we are immediately already in a minefield; this is a country where we argue about facts.

Nevertheless, the fist bumping rector insisted in a subsequent interaction with the press: “Come September 2022 or earlier we shall start. One day courses, 5-day courses, even PhDs”, we are ready”!

I looked at the green salad on offer and decided, not today; only a small glass of the South African white wine on offer would suffice.

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah