The School of Performing Arts, College of Humanities organised a 3-day international conference from 6th to 8th April 2017 under the theme: ‘Interdisciplinarity in the Arts, Academy and Industry’. The conference brought together delegates from different parts of Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

In his welcome address, the Acting Dean of the School of Performing Arts, Prof. Kofi Agyekum noted that this was his third international conference since heading the school. He was hopeful that this conference would bring to light innovative ways through which academia and industry can forge lasting collaborations that can result in national development.

The conference was declared open by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu and the Provost, College of Humanities, Prof. Samuel Agyei-Mensah, chaired the opening ceremony.  Other dignitaries who graced the occasion were Rev. Dr. Joyce Aryee- Salt and Light Ministries, Mrs. Amy Frimpong- Artistic Director- Ghana National Theatre, Mrs. Diana Hopeson, an alumnus of the School, Heads of Departments, and lecturers and students of the School of Performing Arts.


Dr. Ekua Ekumah, chairperson of the organizing committee also welcomed the guests. She pointed out that this year’s conference had shifted from the conventional style of paper presentations to a conference with its focus largely on the exploration of practice, hence the offer of multiple platforms reflected in the call for workshops, performances, exhibitions and papers. She also took the opportunity to thank some of the sponsors and media houses for their support. 

Prof. Kofi Agyekum, Ag. Dean- School of Performing Arts 


Dr. Ekua Ekumah, Chairperson of the Organising Committee/ Artistic Director of Abibigromma Resident Theatre Company, SPA 


The Chairman in his remarks congratulated the School of Performing Arts for organizing the conference. He was also pleased with the move towards practical presentations as the theme called for a unanimous effort from both the humanities and the science disciplines to come together and collaborate. He said it is only when this is done that the academy would improve which, would be reflected through the development of the country. 

Prof. Ebenezer Oduro, Vice Chancello, UG  


Prof. Samuel Agyei-Mensah, Provost of College of Humanities


The first keynote address was delivered by Prof. Esi Sutherland-Addy of the Institute of African Studies, who spoke on the theme, ‘Performing Artistic Heritage and Vision: The Arts, the Academy and Industry.’ She spoke about the power of the performing arts in Africa in embodying the ontologies of African societies, the possibilities of historic and contemporary political realities and her projections of the future through what she termed as ‘imaging and imagining the future.’ Prof. Sutherland-Addy was quick to suggest that the ideas behind the theme- Interdisciplinarity, Academy and Industry could be explored further in more than one conference, given the many strands and sub themes generated by the theme.    

Prof. Esi Sutherland -Addy, Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon

She posed the question, how does the academy position itself to become “an irrefutable resource” and then charged the School to place itself in such a position to make academia a ‘bustling hub for transformative human development.’  She made mention of the inclination towards the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) paradigm within intellectual spaces like the academy, where the arts are often ignored.  She presented a strong argument for the insertion of the Arts, creating STEAM, to work alongside the other disciplines as the preferred paradigm to promote interdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary approaches towards our work, exhibiting other ways of being and knowing, which is contrary to western, often text based approaches.  She went on to mention that our history should remind us of who we are as a people and also inspire us to move forward.  She ended by saying ‘‘culture will die if it does not grow and that it is the old that we build upon to create the new.’’

The second keynote speaker, Prof. Jonothan Neelands from the Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, UK, spoke on the 2nd day of the conference under the theme, ‘The importance of Creative Education for the Future Society and Economy’, sub themed, ‘The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born.’ Starting on a note on hope, Prof. Neelands stated emphatically that we must believe that in fact the beautiful ones really are not yet born, that there is hope for the future and it lies in the arts.  He addressed the issues of understanding the importance of history and identity and creating a cultural product from it, which should inform creative education, which would in turn feed our creative industries and the national economy at large. It is essential that the said evolution is symbiotic with the changing needs within one’s environment.

The conference was fully packed over the three days with 35 parallel paper presentations, 6 practical workshops, 3 theatre performances, 3 music concerts and two roundtables sessions making for an engaging event at the School.   Highlights of these included a Team Building Drumming workshop ran by Dr Kwashie Kuwor on the first day, which set the tone for a borderless free interaction with participants.  The living legend and leading musician of folk music Agya Koo Nimo, graced our welcome cocktail evening with his quintessential concert of Palm Wine Music at the School’s Efua Sutherland Drama Studio.  A performance of Ayi Kwei Armah’s Osiris Rising adapted for stage and directed by Dr. Agyeman Ossei, Head, Department of Theatre Arts followed on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th May. The School’s very own Highlife Pop Band of the Department of Music brought the curtain down on the School’s three-day international conference.

The Conference was sponsored by The International Federation Of Theatre Research (IFTR), the Carnegie Project Under The ‘Building A Generation Of Academics’, the University of Ghana Research Fund of the Office of Research Innovation and Development (ORID) , Despite Group Of Companies , Ghana @60 Committee, Roverman Productions, Institute Of African Studies, Vlisco and Joy online

The members of the planning committee were Dr. Ekua Ekuma, Chairperson, Dr. Kwashie Kuwor, Mrs. Margaret Ismaila, Dr. Hilarious. M. Wuaku, Mr. David A.E. Quaye, Ms. Adwoa Arhine, Mrs. Bernadine Bediako-Poku, the school’s Assistant Registrar, Ms. Hellen Dzreke, Mr. T. J. Essien and Mrs. Maana Ampa-Sowa, Research Development Officer for the School.