Kwame Dadzie : Ghana Actors Guild dying amidst ‘protracted’ court issues

Two arts-related groups that have been in the limelight over the years are the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) and the Ghana Music Rights Organisation (GHAMRO).

These are not the only two organisations in the creative industry; they are probably more visible because they have made attempts to make things work although they have their own challenges to contend with. The same cannot be said of the Ghana Actors Guild. It is comatose! For the past five (5) years there has been little or no activity at the Guild.

This is a body that is supposed to negotiate wages, enforce collective bargaining agreements and ensure the welfare of its members, but it has done zilch in projecting the purpose for which it was established.

From the days of the late Nii Odoi Mensah, Reverend Eddie Coffie to Sammy Fiscian, the Guild has not been in the best of shape. Their internal wrangling even resulted in the formation of another group called the Screen Actors Guild.

The inactivity in the guild can be attributed to just one thing – litigation over leadership!

After the death of Reverend Eddie Coffie in 2016, Samuel Fiscian was elected the President on 27th April 2017 for one year after which the main election was held on October 27, 2018 to get substantive leaders for the group.

Samuel Fiscian retained his seat as the President of the Ghana Actors Guild, Van Vicker became the Vice-President, while Ziggy Netteyson assumed the position of the Secretary. Kalsoume Sinare emerged the Welfare Officer.

However, the outcome of the election was contested in court. Abeiku Sagoe, together with other actors such as Henry Harding (Osofagus) and Mercy Asiedu sued the Ghana Actors Guild in 2018 at the High Court of Justice for not following the due processes in conducting their election. They said the election was not fair and transparent because the various positions were contested unopposed and there was no voter’s register.

Kwame Dadzie : Ghana Actors Guild dying amidst 'protracted' court issues
Abeiku Sagoe

They, therefore, wanted it withdrawn and rather make sure the right things were done but according to Abeiku Sagoe, Sammy Fiscian and his faction were unyielding to the request so petitioners went back to court. They are expected to make an appearance at the Appeal Court on July 10, 2023.

There is nothing wrong with going to court but why I wonder why people in the arts cannot solve simple issues internally but rather resort to spending years in court? In as much as it is good to resolve issues in court, me must learn to make good use of internal dispute resolution machineries in our associations before charting the byzantine path of litigation.

In advanced parts of the world like the United States of America, the Screen Actors Guild which merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has been the voice of actors over the years.

They have been negotiating the best wages, working conditions, and health and pension benefits; preserving and expanding members’ work opportunities; vigorously enforcing our contracts; and protecting members against unauthorized use of their work.

The Actors Guild of Great Britain and Equity in the United Kingdom are also doing greater things for their members too. They ensure fair wages, legal support, workshops, royalty collection, welfare systems among others.

If the Ghana Actors Guild was alive and functional, it would be the mouthpiece of actors in fighting for policies that hold great promise for the Ghanaian film industry.

Due to the Guild’s dormancy, for example, the Ghana Film Producers Association of Ghana (FIPAG), which seems a bit vibrant has arrogated to itself some powers of the Guild.

The press statement the FIPAG President, James Aboagye, released to apologise for actor Yaw Dabo’s comment on people who watch movies for longer hours is a testament to my claim; that press statement should have come from the Guild.

FIPAG apologises for actor Yaw Dabo’s ‘lazy people watch movies’ comment

I don’t know what becomes of the verdict but whichever way it goes, they need to forget about their parochial interests and think about the well-being of the Guild.

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