Peter Atsu shared how he went from creating shadow theatre in his home for the children and families he grew up with to working on international theater productions and with ITAC (International Teaching Artist Collaborative). It was so inspiring hearing how he’s spread his passion for the arts not only into schools, churches, and communities throughout Ghana, but also through mentorship of younger teaching artists. He talked about his teaching approach splitting from the school system’s top-down methods and empowering students in co-creation. He shared how students respond and become so engaged as “that’s the approach they’ve been crying for.” Yet it remains challenging to convince schools of the need for both student choice and voice in learning and for the arts integrated into the school day – a challenge Atsu continues to take on.
He also talked about the strain COVID placed on him when his programs were all shut down. He has worked hard to continue teaching via zoom and has continued creating, saying “art is my breath.” It was beautiful and heartbreaking hearing how expression through his art forms has helped him cope with the challenges of this time and how resilient he has been, not only shifting the way he works, but also helping other teaching artists learn to use zoom and other digital tools. A big challenge has been getting the equipment needed to be able to do this. We looked into crowdfunding platforms and are working on setting something up that is available in Ghana allowing donations from all over the world. I will be sharing links when they are available. In the meantime, you can also reach out to Atsu to support his work directly.
One of the driving forces he shared was curiosity and always questioning – asking “what if?” He talked about the power in this question, the freedom in thinking outside of the systems we know and embracing the unknown.
I can’t wait for a time to visit Ghana and eat Banku with him!
Peter Atsu Adaletey is an internationally recognized multi-disciplinary Teaching Artist whose journey began in 1998 at the National Theatre of Ghana. With over twenty (20) years of experience, he has worked with schools, community arts hubs, churches and with corporate and non-profit organizations. He has contributed immensely to teaching artistry; empowered many children, youth and artists through art-rich events at the National Theatre of Ghana (KIDDAFEST, Theatre Programme for Schools (TPS), FUNWORLD, among other innovative workshops) and used his arts organization, Bright Future Arts Foundation (BRIFAFO) as a vehicle for promoting arts in education.
In 2018, Atsu was selected among global applicants as a fully funded delegate for the 4th International Teaching Artist Conference (ITAC4) held in New York, USA. In the same year, he was appointed by the organizers of the Kampala International Theatre Festival as a Stage Manager for a UK based award-winning theatre company, Seemia Theatre. Unfortunately, he couldn’t embrace these opportunities due to conflicts. Persistent and deeply dedicated to his passion, he was selected by ITAC as a Catalyst.
To open Teaching Artists and Artists in Ghana to opportunities, he established ITAC GHANA (the first international wing of the International Teaching Artist Collaborative) and now heads as the Country Director. In 2020, at the 5th International Teaching Artist Conference (ITAC 5) held at Seoul, South Korea virtually, he was selected as a Collective Room Leader and worked with other resourceful and versatile TAs across the world.
Presently, Atsu is expanding the field of teaching artistry in Ghana by engaging international Teaching Artists in empowering Ghanaian Teaching Artists. Atsu’s dedication has been acknowledged by UNESCO in the International Arts Education Week.
Atsu studied at the University of Education, Winneba (Department of Theatre Arts). He is the co-founder of Bright Future Drama Club (Keta Senior High School — 1997), founder of Bright Future Arts Foundation (Accra, 1998) and the Creative Director of Dzolali Theatre House (Accra, 2017).
With such an enviable network with Teaching Artists around the world (through ITAC), Atsu continues to promote the arts in education; offering professional development workshops for teachers and empowering teaching artists and artists to become impactful artpreneurs.