By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
THE announcement of a $25 million fund via the Presidential Film Pitch Series by President Akufo Addo last week has exposed one of the biggest problems the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has and that is communication.
The ineffective communication system at the sector has been there for years and it keeps getting worse. Disturbingly, the people with the oversight responsibility over the sector do not see this albatross that affects smooth operations.
The President’s announcement of the $25 million investment fund through the National Film Authority’s Presidential Film Pitch Series was one that incredibly, many of the film producers, directors and major stakeholders were not aware of. Many of the industry players and their respective groupings were not even invited to the ceremony.
At the end of that event, it was not surprising to realize the confusion that greeted the announcement of the investment fund. While some thought the government had given that amount to the film industry, others believed government had committed some funds to be shared among film producers.
Where is the communications unit?
The communication mechanism at the Ministry has been appalling and it trickles down to all of its agencies. From the Ghana Tourism Authority to the Creative Arts Agency to the National Film Authority to the National Commission on Culture and everywhere else, the communication system has been slapdash.
What is galling is the realization that, indeed almost all these agencies, including the mother Ministry have offices and officers responsible for Communications and Public Relations, and one wonders what and how they communicate happenings and proceedings at their respective sections to the industry.
Even when journalists, radio and TV presenters manage to project these sectors and some of their programmes/projects on their respective platforms, getting Communications/PR Officers to answer or clarify matters becomes a problem.
So what happens to your job function as that Communication/PR officer at the unit?
Communication within is pathetic
If you think communication among the ministry, its agencies and the industry is poor, then information flow even within the ministry and its agencies is just chaotic.
A major policy or decision would be taken at the ministry, which affects all the units under it, yet, you’d get some executives of some of the agencies not being aware of such information.
What is even incredulous is to find out that a major decision would be taken on the National Film Authority and the board that governs the authority is oblivious of such a decision.
A critical issue about Film Classification would be discussed at a high delegation meeting and the Chairman of the Classification Committee would not be aware.
It’s such a mess!
Nowhere to be found
When issues pertaining to the ministry come up and they are discussed in the media, you hardly hear or see the Communications/PR Officers responding or offering any meaningful clarity on such matters.
Most often than not, you’d hear presenters lamenting about not getting these officers to respond to such matters, yet they are there in their offices with a specific mandate to offer communication.
They would not also offer any communique, notices or statements to clarify matters or even disseminate core information on industry-related matters. They are just there, delivering less on the roles given them.
When critical issues come up, industry folks would be all over the place, bumping heads like headless chicken, bereft of information to help them.
They Don’t See the Need
The manner in which executives at the ministry and its agencies have been lackadaisical with communication over the period cements the notion that they do not see the need for an effective communication strategy and a proper link with the media. They have been sleeping.
With the approach of not communication effectively and not engaging the media being some of the biggest problems of the industry, it has led to almost every policy, plan and strategy being met with uproar and confusion, giving the impression that the industry is always not united.
It is not united because of the sloppy information flow and the slack communication systems that exist. They are not united in their approach because just a few would get the correct information, many others would get the wrong information while others would not even know about it.
So, when the industry is called upon to offer its take on a matter, confusion erupts because the person/unit mandated to offer the correct information failed or refused to do its basic job.
We have new Minister and will soon get a deputy and of course, new executives for the various agencies would be announced. Lack of proper communication has been a bane of the industry, a canker that must be fixed.
If the minister and his deputy want to succeed in their tenure, have quality rapport with the industry in terms of communication and maintain a bond with the media, they need to fix the poor communication setup at the Ministry and all other agencies.
They should hire professionals, give them resources and give them targets; indexes that would be gradable at end of a period.
Communication is key in every sector and it is baffling how it has been mishandled over the period. The time to fix it is now!