building our dream
OUR GOAL: $450,000
CURRENT FUNDING: $346,653.00
WHAT WE NEED NOW: $100,000
For the Children
Maputo Mensah is devoted to building a new center for the arts in the beautiful Ghanaian coastal village of Kokrobite. This center will be a venue for teaching and preserving West Africa's traditional arts, and will give young people a place to grow into the next generation of world-class artists. It will also give these young ones focus and direction in life as they learn the deep cultural traditions that underpin the songs, dances, and stories of Africa.
Today, the children have no place to practice, and no one to teach them. They are hungry to learn, hungry for something positive to do that gives them identity and hope for their futures. Maputo absorbed the life-affirming values embodied in the arts of Africa from his parents, teachers, and mentors, and his deepest wish is to pass those values on to future generations.
For the Art
As the now-closed Academy of African Music and Arts did, the Akpe Cultural Center will attract students of all ages from the rest of the world, including established artists wishing to infuse their own work with the sound and soul of Africa. Stevie Wonder came to AAMA; so did Rita Marley, Isaac Hayes, and Steve Coleman.
The Akpe Cultural Center will preserve and offer the best in traditional African arts, but it will also provide space and opportunity for experimentation, fusion, and in many ways, therapy. Just as children are nurtured by the arts of Africa, adults find these arts uniquely healing to the spirit. They are increasingly needed in today’s world.
For the People
When AAMA was open, the roads between Accra and Kokrobite were jammed each weekend with people — including high government officials and diplomats — headed to AAMA for the best in entertainment. Since AAMA’s demise, the economy of the Kokrobite area has suffered. When the Akpe Cultural Center is complete, it will once again draw visitors and generate jobs in the entire area. The whole community is excited about the project. Adults and kids alike check progress frequently, volunteer to help, and eagerly await opening day.
Where We Are Now
The new cultural center is over halfway complete. It now has three floors, with a beautiful new roof. Interior walls are installed, windows and doors are being framed in, and plastering, both inside and outside, is nearly complete. Plumbing and electrical work continue.
Once windows and doors are in and the interior work is substantially complete, we will be able to install the suspended, resilient dance floor, the only one in the region. With that in place, the Akpe Cultural Center will be able to host students, artists, and art lovers from around the world. The locals are eagerly waiting, and so are teachers and students in North America, South America, Europe, and New Zealand.
What the Future Holds
When the Akpe Cultural Center is complete, professional musicians and dancers will not have to find makeshift spaces in Kokrobite to teach and perform. This summer, some of Akpe's future teachers and students gathered in the under-construction performance hall to give us a taste of what to expect when the Akpe Cultural Center opens: