Hard times ahead—Ghana entertainment sector players

By: Linda Safoa Antwi
George Quaye on GH entertainmen industryt
Francis Doku, Head of Radio and Digital at Media General andentertainment analyst
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GHANA'S entertainment sector faces tough times ahead should the coronavirus pandemic persist, according to industry players.

The effect of coronavirus (COVID 19) globally can best be described as devastating; not only is it claiming thousands of lives, it is crippling economies and experts predict a recession like, or even more than what occurred in 2008.

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The entertainment industry globally has not been spared; movie releases have been pushed back, concerts have been cancelled, TV shows have stopped filming, theatres have been shut among others putting many people out of jobs.

Here in Ghana, the impact has been felt; some hospitality venues have closed their doors, musicians have cancelled shows both home and abroad, filmmakers have stopped production and there is a big slowdown on the entertainment scene.

And while optimism is high that things will go back to normal soon, some players in the sector believe the industry will struggle greatly should the outbreak not end soon.

According to some of them, even after the pandemic, the entertainment industry would struggle to recover.

Head of Radio and Digital at Media General and tourism advocate, Francis Doku, told Graphic Showbiz it was a very difficult situation Ghana's entertainment industry was facing.

“Many events that were planned for March and April have either been suspended, postponed or cancelled. Look at the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards(VGMA) and the concerts that had been planned by artistes, some of them were going to tour Europe and they have had to return.

“We do not know when this is going to end, the problem is that if we knew this was going be for a month or two, then we could plan for it. But given that we don’t know when this is even ending, I think the effect on the entertainment industry will be huge.

“Entertainment is not just about events but also includes people who go to the pubs, night clubs, restaurants; all of those have been put on lockdown for now, and if they were not, people were not even patronising them as they used to so people who operate those businesses are in a very hard place.

“I know for example somebody who’s lost almost GHS3 million just for two weeks cancellation of bills by companies for events that have been planned so we’re in a very hard place,” he said.

According to him, it would take some time for the industry to get back to winning ways. “Even though we have hope that we’ll get out of it, I think that it will take a bit of time, effort and rebuilding for us to be able to survive.

“But I think the first is for us to try and find a solution, for us all to try and observe the protocols that have been put out by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation so that we’ll still be alive and see what we can do after this thing ends,” he stated.

George Quaye, CEO of Image Bureau

Former Public Relations Officer of Charterhouse and CEO of Image Bureau, George Quaye, shared similar sentiments. “A few more months of this will really be a killer. Many economists and industry gurus have in the past opined that the entertainment industry is recession proof - but that's not the case with this virus.

“The very nature of it is forcing isolation, killing mass gatherings and confining people to their homes which ultimately means that even without the President ordering a lockdown, public events and performances have been killed with massive economic consequences across the industry.

“I believe we will make a comeback but it’s not going to be easy and straightforward. Unless a cure or vaccine is found and announced soon, people may still be skeptical about coming out even if these safety sanctions are lifted anytime soon. TV productions, music and maybe movies may bounce back earlier but public events may take a bit of time,” he told Graphic Showbiz.

On how the industry can survive, George Quaye said it won’t be easy. “Surviving won’t be easy. Event planners make money from people patronising their shows. If there’s no show, there’s no business. It’s that simple.

“Musicians can migrate to social media though. Those who’ve built huge following especially on YouTube can cash in by creating concert style events, get patrons to subscribe to watch and even get brands to associate.

“Comedians, and TV show hosts can also migrate their events (once it doesn’t violate the social distancing rule) to social media. For event planners, well, those who have tons of events content sitting on various cards and tapes can also consider migrating them to social media and hopefully make some money via advertising from brands and also generating some revenue from views.

“All in all, there’s nothing that can help us bounce back better than prayer. The industry is large and it survives mainly on people coming out. Movies, events, festivals, carnivals, night clubs, parties, tourism in general.

“If we don’t get past this for people to start coming out confidently again sometime soon, this industry will never ever be the same again. And this will be global, not just in Ghana,” he explained.

Arnold Asamoah Baidoo, an entertainment analyst

For entertainment analyst, Arnold Asamoah Baidoo, the industry would survive because of its value around the world.

“The virus is already hitting the arts industry the hardest and it is being felt worldwide and the continuous outbreak means the worst possible effects for the industry.

“The effects are debilitating for every industry player - from the corporate sponsor to the event organiser to the entertainers, event houses, vendors and the patrons.

“Surely, the industry would bounce back after the virus disappears. It would take some injection of funds, will and assurance to get it back on track. However, the fact is that, the world can simply not do without entertainment,” he said.