Nubuke Foundation is a visual art and cultural institution based in Accra, Ghana. Founded in 2006, the Foundation serves as a nexus for the preservation, recording, and promotion of contemporary arts and culture through art exhibitions, book readings, art talks, film screenings, performances, seminars, and workshops.
Odile Tevie is the current director and a founding member of Nubuke Foundation. We caught up with her to learn more about the institution.
In what ways does Nubuke Foundation support artists?
Nubuke Foundation has a robust calendar programme within which artists are given opportunities to improve their artistic capabilities, showcase their work and build patronage with audiences.
There is a need for artists- budding, young, or mid-career and those contemplating art practice to be supported and given a platform not only to develop and showcase their works but to engage with art patrons.
The professional ecosystem that supports the career of artists is vital. Nubuke Foundation has provided the opportunity for many professionals to hone their skills-writers, curators, photographers etc.
What are your thoughts on the development of the art scene in Ghana?
I am extremely proud of where we are today. Nubuke Foundation had the foresight almost 20 years ago to lay the foundation for the artist’s career and future. However, so much more investment is needed to ensure more than 50% of artists graduating from art School continue into full-time practice.
The development needs to be holistic if it is to be sustainable. That means the entire ecosystem of the art scene should be invested in. The artists are ambitious, building on their talents and capabilities to compelling works.
This has brought worldwide interest to our art scene. We cannot ignore the role of other professionals who work with them to achieve this.
Which up-and-coming or established artists do you think we should know about?
There are several artists who are extremely talented and doing incredibly well with focus and drive. Several of the mid-career artists today would have had several opportunities in our exhibition programming in the last 16 years to strengthen and showcase their practice.
I am extremely proud of the ones who have participated in our YGA programme in the last 8 years as well.
Na Chainkua Reindorf and Nana Opoku are showing in Ghana’s pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale. Eric Gyamfi is a beautiful photographer and Gideon Appah is also an artist to watch.
We are also very keen to promote artists whose works are priced affordably. This programme will be launched in November/ December 2022.
What needs to occur in order to develop the African art ecosystem?
It’s a very tall order! We need to intentionally focus and systematically build up the system by bringing more business and tech skills to the commercial side, engaging more philanthropy, patronage, and support to build career opportunities for artists, and strengthening the capacity of professionals.
Training is an essential first step. There is a need for criticality in academia and research, and to provide access to resources, libraries, etc. It should be noted that it was only in the last decade that the College of Art at KNUST started an MFA in Curating. In the same period, Ghanatta College, the school that Amoako Boafo attended in Accra closed.
Access to ongoing professional development, mentorship, institutional exchanges, and residencies is also important. We need to increase the number of professionals who shape and promote artists- curators, writers, and critics.
More platforms are needed (print media and online) to showcase and promote the incredible talent and work being done on the continent. Art institutions are important in recording history and providing access to resources and archival material.
Lastly, there should be greater engagement with patrons, collectors, and buyers in the continent.
What does the future look like for the art scene in Ghana?
There is a lot of goodwill and keenness to see growth in the industry. This is a good thing for all of us. So far as we focus and invest in training, ongoing professional development, publishing, and creating more spaces within which we can showcase art.
I am confident that we will develop into a sector that offers career opportunities for artists and the surrounding ecosystem, build sustainable livelihoods, and creates fulfilling experiences for our audiences.