Nubuke Foundation: Nurturing the Art Ecosystem in Ghana

Nubuke Foundation is a visual arts and culture 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 founding member of the Nubuke Foundation. We contacted her to learn more about the institution.

Odile Tevie, co-founder and director of the Nubuke Foundation

In what ways does the Nubuke Foundation support artists?

The Nubuke Foundation has a robust program calendar within which artists are given opportunities to improve their artistic abilities, showcase their work and build patronage among the public.

There is a need for emerging, young or mid-career artists and those considering art practice to be supported and given a platform not only to develop and present their work, but also to engage with art patrons.

The professional ecosystem that supports artists’ careers is vital. The Nubuke Foundation has provided an opportunity for many professionals to hone their skills – writers, curators, photographers, etc.

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What do you think about the development of the art scene in Ghana?

I am extremely proud of where we are today. The Nubuke Foundation had the foresight almost 20 years ago to lay the groundwork for the artist’s career and future. However, much more investment is needed to ensure that more than 50% of artists who graduate from art school continue to practice full-time.

Development must be holistic to be sustainable. This means investing in the entire ecosystem of the art scene. Artists are ambitious, building on their talents and abilities for compelling works.

This sparked worldwide interest in our art scene. We cannot ignore the role of other professionals who work with them to achieve this.

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Which emerging or established artists do you think we should know about?

There are several artists who are extremely talented and do incredibly well with focus and drive. Several of today’s mid-career artists would have had several opportunities in our exhibition programming over the past 16 years to strengthen and showcase their practice.

I am also extremely proud of those who have participated in our YGA program over the past 8 years.

Na Chainkua Reindorf and Nana Opoku are shown at the Ghana Pavilion at 59th Venice Biennale. Eric Gyamfi is a beautiful photographer and Gideon Appah is also an artist to watch.

We are also keen to promote artists whose work is affordable. This program will be launched in November/December 2022.

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What needs to happen to develop the African art ecosystem?

That’s a very tall order! We must purposefully focus and systematically build the system by bringing more business and technical skills to the commercial side, engage more philanthropy, patronage and support to build career opportunities for artists and strengthen the capacity of professionals.

Training is an important first step. There is a need for criticality in academia and research and for providing access to resources, libraries, etc. It should be noted that it was only in the last decade that the College of Art at KNUST launched an MA in Curating. During the same period, Ghanatta College, the school Amoako Boafo attended in Accra, closed.

Access to continuing professional development, mentoring, institutional exchange and residency is also important. We need to increase the number of professionals who shape and promote artists – curators, writers and critics.

More platforms (print media and online) are needed 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 materials.

Finally, there must be greater engagement with patrons, collectors and buyers on the continent.

There is a lot of goodwill and desire to see growth in the industry. This is a good thing for all of us. As we focus and invest in training, continuous professional development, publishing and creating more spaces where we can exhibit art.

I am confident that we will develop into a sector that offers career opportunities to artists and the surrounding ecosystem, build sustainable livelihoods and create fulfilling experiences for our audiences.

– Tony O. Lawson

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