Thursday, July 14, 2011

All you wanna know about the Chale Wote Street Art Festival

What is the CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival?
The CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival is the collective effort of many young people—ranging from artists, musicians and writers to designers, students and activists—who will work together to produce Accra’s first annual street art festival. This one-day festival will take place in the working-class Ga community
of Jamestown and will include street painting and stencil work, sidewalk painting and chalk art, graffiti murals, large photography displays, live music performances, spoken word and dramatic storytelling, cultural dance and drumming, youth art workshops and much more. We are expecting more than 2,000 patrons to attend the festival. Our target audience includes art lovers,
students, artists and musicians, tourists, Jamestown residents, and everyday people throughout the greater Accra region.

The purpose of the festival is to promote the exhibition of alternative art in Ghana and to nurture an appreciation for different kinds of art among Ghanaians. CHALE WOTE means “Man, let’s go!” or is a reference to slippers worn on the
feet. Each of us comes from different walks of life but we all have something
valuable to contribute. This festival is completely “Do-It-Yourself” with the
talented energies of many people needed to make it happen. We are encouraged
by this collectivity and use CHALE WOTE as a way to mobilize an excitement
for public, alternative art, especially among young Ghanaians. In the spirit of
camaraderie, creativity and fun, CHALE WOTE is an accessible term used by
Ghanaians regardless of language.

What is alternative art?
Alternative art is not afraid of breaking boundaries or taking risks. Our folktales—
Ananse the Spider for example—dare us to be different. Alternative art is, simply,
that which is different or outside of what we normally consider to be art. It is the
mixing of many elements to make something new, energizing and thrilling. It is
flexible, experimental and critical of how the world’s leaders often neglect the
interests of marginalized people. By taking art out of the traditional spaces of
craft shops, museums, galleries, weddings and funerals and into the public street
space of Jamestown, we are opening up how art is experienced, hopefully, in
new, different and spectacular ways.

Alternative art is when a Jamestown kid makes a kite out of disposed water
sachets and rubber bags, or Wanlov the Kubolor merges his Ghanaian and
Gypsy roots into a remarkable album, or a graffiti artist maps the history of a
neighborhood on the side of an abandoned building. Alternative art can turn

something ugly or wasteful into something beautiful and functional. Alternative art
is a innovative solution to everyday problems affecting our communities.

We believe that everyone is an artist. Each one of us is distinct, special and
talented in our own way. Essentially, we are all different. Difference is a good
thing because it means we are all creative beings with the ability to make and
appreciate art. The CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival is a platform for different
kinds of art produced by artists and youth in Jamestown and throughout the
greater Accra region. We foster a culture of awareness about alternative art in
Ghana as a way to transform the creative potential of young Ghanaians.

Why is the festival happening in Jamestown?
We are excited by the unique history of Jamestown, particularly the community’s
fishing, boxing and Brazilian cultures. The colonial architecture, the die-hard spirit
of the people, and the intimacy with the ocean in Jamestown is an inspiration for
many local and international artists. Several historical forts stretching back to the
14th and 16th centuries—once held enslaved peoples and prisoners—are home to
this area. We will be working in concert with the Jamestown community— artists,
students, cultural performance groups, NGOs, business owners and street
vendors—to make the festival a success. It is important to have the enthusiastic
participation of the community for this event to be truly productive. Our hope is
to facilitate creative networking with people who live and work in Jamestown
so that we can help the community to continue producing innovative art events
throughout the year. We are committed to connecting our human and creative
resources to Jamestown organizations and youth interested in extending the
aim of the festival into sustainable programs. As the festival expands each year,
CHALE WOTE will move to different areas of the city.

Why a Street Art Festival?
As a culture, our shared expectations/ aspirations/ anxieties have defined the
boundary lines for inclusions and exclusions as far as art is concerned. As an
alternative art forum, the event is necessary to open up discourse to include
other dimensions of experience and perception (even though perception has
always been intrinsic to the experience of art, this makes a sort of deeper/
further inquiry into both subjects). The intention is not to prescribe what to [or
not to] recognize or identify as art but to open up possible constitutions and
interpretations of the genre—chiefly through participation, whether actively or
merely through observation.

The festival literally serves as a hybrid form of several genres of art brought to
the doorsteps of Jamestown residents. The city of Accra, for the purpose of the
festival, will be treated as a big canvas where there will be annual migrations of
the event to various spaces within the city’s peripheries. The event will gradually
paint a portrait of the city bit by bit. Painting the bigger picture from a singular
perspective (specific place in the city) makes it all the more interesting and could
also be another strand of documenting the project. We can have a map of Accra

and chart our travels through the city each time the festival happens and put
these images on display.

What can I expect to see at the festival?
The CHALE WOTE! Street Arts Festival will take place on Saturday, July 16th,
2011 from 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM. This event is free and open to the public. The
festival will feature vibrant and colorful painting and chalk art on the sidewalk
space from the Lighthouse to the Old Kingsway Building Ruin. If authorized,
we will block off the street within this area to paint it for the festival. If this is
not allowed, there will be a team of artists working to paint and stencil the
street beginning at midnight on July 16th. There will also be teams of artists
(professional and students) painting the walls of permitted buildings and the
sidewalk space continuously along the ten-minute walk from the Lighthouse to
the Old Kingsway Building Ruin. Detailed program schedules (in English and Ga)
will be available the day of the festival (along with sidewalk sign posts) to help
patrons get from one area to the next.

The festival will feature a number of activities for attendees to check out:
acrylic street painting and stencil work, sidewalk painting and chalk art, large
photography displays (on posts and by projector), three large installation
art exhibits, graffiti wall murals, live DJ and music performance sets,
spoken word and dramatic ensembles, cultural dance and drama troupes,
capoeira demonstrations, a kids’ creative corner, an alternative hair styling
competition, “trash to treasure” workshops, stilt walkers and acrobatic troupes,
bike stunts, and skateboarding and roller skating performances.

There will be seven main zones of activity: 1) The Lighthouse 2) The Mantse
Agbonaa car park 3) The Pharmaceutical Building side street 4) Small
Performance Square 5) The street in front of the Brazil House 6) Ebony & Ivory
Hair Salon and 7) The Old Kingsway Building Ruin.

Here is a tentative schedule of activities:


• Live music DJ set (10am – 5pm)
• Installation art exhibit (10am – 5pm)
• Jamestown vendors (10am – 5pm)
• Photography exhibits on a projector (6pm - 10pm)

Graffiti murals on the walls bordering the car park
10-15 Large photography exhibits (individual and collages)
10-15 Alternative craft vendors (canopy tent on the outside of car park)
Children’s art expo
Festival patrons will park in this area (directed by a Jamestown traffic


• Motorbike and bicycle stunts
• Skateboarding area
• Roller skater troupe

• Spoken word and poetry (Ehalakasa)
• Capoeira demonstration
• Cultural dance group and drummers (from Jamestown)
• Bonfire & story-telling (Jamestown person)
• Dramatic troupe
BRAZIL HOUSE AREA (10am – 5pm)

• Live Music DJ set
• Capoeira demonstration
• Face Painting
• Cultural dance group and drummers (from Jamestown)
• Stilt walkers & acrobatic troupe
• Kite-making workshop from rubber bags and water sachets
• Youth tire race (paint a tire and race it)

Funky Hair Art Competition (audience judges 5 contestants on who is the

Graffiti murals by artists & a teaching workshop (10am – 5pm)
A Youth Drawing Corner (10am – 4pm)
Workshops: 1) recycling old materials into cool accessories with Auntie
Renee 2) recycling waste into cool art with Tei Huagie and 3) making toys
and footballs out of junk workshop (for children and youth) (11am – 4pm)
• I.U.B. installation art exhibit behind the building
• Live music DJ set
• Live music performances (6 – 8pm)
• Block party music by DJ (8 – 10pm)

Who produces The CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival?
More than twenty Accra-based artists, activists, writers, students and musicians
are working together to produce this street art festival. The idea developed into a
project during The Talk Parti Series, a monthly discussion held by ACCRA [dot]
Alt organizers, Ghanaian filmmaker Mantse Aryeequaye and cultural scholar,
Dr. Sionne Neely. ACCRA [dot] Alt is a social enterprise that began in October
2010. The organization acknowledges and encourages the exploration of globally
experimental art forms in film, music, photography and design by Ghanaian and
African diasporic practitioners and audiences. ACCRA [dot] Alt is working in

Collaboration with multiple organizations to stage this festival, including the Fund
for Contemporary Art, DUST Magazine, and Ehalakasa among others. For more
information about The CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival or ACCRA [dot] Alt,
contact Mantse Aryeequaye by email at or phone
(011) +233-244897948 or Dr. Sionne Neely by email at
or or phone at (011) +233-260508908. Visit us on to find out what we are up to next.

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