With regard to the articles that have appeared in the press concerning the refusal to grant entry visas to three out of the six members of the team that worked on the setting up of the Ghana Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation wishes to point out that:
- the Italian Embassy in Accra has been facilitating the participation of Ghanaian artists in important art exhibitions or events scheduled in Italy for years. To cite a few examples: at this year’s edition of the Venice Biennale, seven Ghanaian artists are present, including the well-known Ibrahim Mahama. Ghanaian artists were also present at the 2022 edition of the Biennale and at the Milan Triennale in June 2022, attended by the painter Gideon Appah.
- As for the team of the Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, curated by Lesley Lokko, out of a total of six applicants, visas were issued to the three members of the team who fulfilled the requirements. The Embassy followed the procedures prescribed by law, which require a careful examination of each applicant’s individual requirements, in accordance with European regulations governing the issuance of Schengen visas, valid for all countries included in the agreement.
- When referring to the three staff members who were not granted visas, the Embassy never referred – nor could it have – to whether the applicants were “essential” or not. In the first four months of 2023, the Embassy issued 608 entry visas to Italy out of 617 applications.
- In general, the Italian Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have long been providing increasingly more space and support for the art sector in Ghana.
- On 11 May, for example, an art exhibition featuring Ghanaian, Togolese and Italian artists was inaugurated to celebrate the friendship between Italy and African countries through art. Italy considers the focus on Africa in this year’s edition of the Venice Biennale to be very significant and, in general, supports African art at both bilateral and multilateral levels, as demonstrated by its efforts, also within UNESCO, to promote African cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible.