The Chale Wote Arts Festival; Ghana’s Biggest Celebration of Street Art

Ghana is renowned all over the globe for being a country with rich culture and great festivals. Festivals such as the Homowo of the Gas and the Aboakyere of the Winnebas are among some of the most popular and famous festivals in the sub region and Africa as a whole.

For decades, dating back to the 60s, foreigners from all walks of life, mostly America and Europe, visit Ghana each year with the hope of witnessing some of these gracious and culturally rich festivals.

While these cultural festivals put Ghana on the map and were annual events Ghanaians looked up to, Ghana had no festival to celebrate arts. Artistic works such as painting, portraits, graffiti murals, hand crafted ornaments, street dance and music, local fashion were hardly celebrated until 2011 when the now famous Chale Wote Street Art Festival was launched.

Chale Wote. Image by Ghanafuo.com
Chale Wote. Image by Ghanafuo.com

The festival launched in 2011 is aimed at bringing all artists together, from painters to filmmakers and everyone involved in the production of an artistic piece.

The first edition which was hosted by Accra dot ALT and the French Embassy in Ghana took place on the streets of Jamestown, Accra, and saw thousands of artistic young Ghanaians patronize the event to see some of the finest paintings in their lives.

Since then, eight successful editions have taken place with patronage increasing every year as the festival gets bigger and bigger. For this reason, the festival has been extended to a week-long event as opposed to the two-day schedule it had initially began with.

Fighting the plastic waste monster at Chale Wote 2018 (Twitter/P_DallaStella)
Fighting the plastic waste monster at Chale Wote 2018 (Twitter/P_DallaStella)

For the younger generation, the Chale Wote festival provides an opportunity for them to express their artistic talents in the form of drawings, photography, dancing, music, fashion and so on. While the older generation have an opportunity to witness the beauty of arts like never before.

The 2019 edition of the festival is scheduled to take place between August 22 and August 29, under the theme Ghana Year of Return: The Chale Wote Art Festival.

Chale Wote Arts Festival to get ¢300,000 support from Tourism Ministry

The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has announced plans to support this year’s ‘Chale Wote’ Street Arts Festival with ¢300,000.

The Ministry will also provide security to safeguard the safety of patrons at the event since over 30,000 people patronised the event last year, which projected the country’s creative arts potentials positively to the global audience.

Madam Catherine Abelema Afeku said “We’re giving them financial support, publicity and the Ministry’s ambit because it’s one of the major festivals for young people to showcase their visual and creative arts skills and increase the package to one million Ghana Cedis,” Madam Afeku disclosed.

The Festival is an alternative platform that brings art, music, design, dance and performance out into the streets and is slated for August 25-26, 2018.

The community-based festival takes place in James Town, one of Accra’s most historic communities and targets exchanges between Ghana-based and international artists creating and appreciating art together, she said.

Over the last eight years, it had transformed the City of Accra into the most active cultural hub in the West Africa Sub-region and inspired possibilities in public space design through community supported cultural production.

The Minister said another paragliding festival would also be organised in December this year at Kwahu aside the one held annually in September considering the high patronage the festival has enjoyed over the years, so that more people would have the chance to enjoy the flight in parachutes.

Madam Afeku outlined a number of activities the Ministry had instituted to project the creative arts and entertainment industry from August to November this year.

She mentioned the Black Star International Film Festival (BSIFF), which started on August 11, 2018 and would end on Saturday, August 18, with ongoing activities such as film screening, workshops and panel discussions.

She noted that BSIFF is a non-profit organisation creating global connections through film and helping to bridge the gap between African cinema and the world.

It is a festival focused on the business of film and advocacy in the region. Its goal is to create a platform where filmmakers can learn, network, do business and celebrate their craft within an African context.

The Minister also mentioned the hosting of the African Tourism Leadership Forum slated for August 30-31 in Accra, with six African ministers confirming their participation.

The Minister added that Ghana would also host this year’s All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) from November 14-17, which is being organised by the Government of Ghana in collaboration with the African Union and AFRIMA Secretariat.

AFRIMA is designed to promote the distinct rich African music worldwide, engaging millions of fans by propelling African music to glorious pinnacles beyond the borders of Africa.

The Minister said the unveiling of AFRIMA celebration was done in May, this year, noting that, Ghana had been given the hosting rights for the next three years.

She said representative of arts and entertainment industry from 54 African countries are expected to perform at the ceremony.

She said a number of music concerts would be held in some African countries as prelude to the actual music awards ceremony in Accra, noting that, the music concert planned to take place at the Independence Square is expected to attract over 100,000 audience.

She said business summit on entertainment and creative arts industry would also be organised, while an awards night would climax the celebration.

According to her, the activities of AFRIMA would be shown on Dstv, which would attract over 80 million viewership worldwide and expose the country tourism potentials to global audience.