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Art councils to be set up, revamped in all districts of Punjab – Pakistan

LAHORE: In a major move aimed at reinvigorating the dormant official art and culture bodies, the Punjab Council of the Arts (PUCAR) is going to revamp and establish arts councils in all the 40 districts of the province, besides constituting Boards of Management (BoMs) in all divisional arts councils and launching art classes at respective councils to promote and preserve fine arts, culture and literature.

The arts councils currently exist in 12 districts, including divisional headquarters in the province.

The PUCAR Board of Governors (BoG), which met after 14 years, has taken some policy decisions to revamp the divisional arts councils, revive the Arts and Crafts Museum, foster partnership with academia and industry, outsource facilities and set up council’s offices at the districts level.

The BoG, in a recent meeting, okayed the reconstitution of (BoMs) for each divisional arts council with a mandate to define long-term goals and strategies and set forth the principles and policy directions.

Art classes will also be launched at dist level

The BoM, an 11-member body preferably led by president of local chamber of commerce and industry or any reputed philanthropist, artist or businessman, shall provide guidance, recommendations and support to the divisional arts councils in matters related to the promotion, preservation and development of culture, literature and arts.

PUCAR Executive Director Syed Bilal Haider told Dawn the BoMs comprising seven private and four official members, has been tasked to provide strategic vision and operational guidance to achieve the objectives of the Punjab Culture Policy 2022.

He says that serving as a collective advisory body, each divisional board will advise on policies, programmes and projects related to art, culture and literature, besides ways and means to support emerging artists, writers and cultural practitioners, to encourage innovation and creativity. The boards are required to devise strategies to engage the public through various programmes and educational initiatives, he adds.

Mr Haider, who also acts as the secretary to the council’s BoG, as well as executive committee, and has reactivated both bodies, says that the launch of art classes at the divisional arts councils will help revive Punjabi poetry, artistry, music, cuisine, architecture, traditions, values and history.

The BoG, on the recommendations of the council’s executive committee, that too met after a lapse of 19 months, endorsed that the councils be made a hub of learning for art aspirants to help them grow their skills to earn livelihood.

As arts councils play a pivotal role in promoting art and culture within societies by providing platforms, resources and support for talented youth, artists and cultural practitioners, Mr Haider says each divisional council has been mandated to launch 4 to 12-week art classes in the market-driven skills, including painting, calligraphy, sculpturing, acting, folk dance and singing, besides playing music instruments like the guitar, the harmonium, the flute, the piano, the tabla, the sarangi and the violin, to explore and promote new talent.

ARTS AND CRAFTS MUSEUM: In order to optimise the functioning of the Arts and Crafts Museum, the BoG has given its nod to the council to

take over the museum, since it already manages its administrative and budgetary affairs. The BoG has sought revocation of a notification that made the chief secretary head of the museum.

The museum, which was originally envisioned during the era of Governor Lt-Gen Ghulam Jilani at 90-Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam (Free Mason Hall), to preserve and protect the dying arts and crafts of the province, could never be materialised and the building soon after its renovation was taken over by the chief minister’s secretariat.

The “museum” was eventually housed in one of the shops on the ground floor of the Alhamra Cultural Complex near Gaddafi Stadium, where it has been functioning at a snail’s pace since its inception.

A good number of valuable artefacts (antique objects) were also purchased for display at the museum, but most of these were left to rot in a store.

PARTNERSHIP WITH ACADEMIA AND INDUSTRY: The BoG also gave a go-ahead to PUCAR to foster partnerships with international partners, stakeholders, academia, industry and other arts and culture-related organisations in the public and private sector.

The council will also approach the Chinese Embassy for collaboration under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) cultural convergence project.

BUSINESS PLAN: The PUCAR BoG also seeks a business plan to outsource the council’s non-functional and underutilised facilities, including the 3D Cinema at Murree Arts Council and operationalising the Open Air Theatre at the Bagh-e-Jinnah, Lahore, through signing an MoU with Ajoka Theatre till the completion of development scheme meant for its upgrade.

The business plan will also include revenue generation, operational plan, implementation strategy, future roadmap, performance evaluation matrix and monitoring plan through an exclusively hired consultancy firm.

On the operational side, the BoG approved PUCAR Regulations 2017 and 20202, PUCAR (Service Pension) Regulations 2021, PUCAR Employees General Provident Fund Regulations 2021, establishment of a fund amounting to Rs15 million out of PUCAR income account for upgrade, repair and maintenance of the councils, cultural allowance at 30 per cent of running basic pay to the council employees, and provisional transport policy for entitled functionaries of the council.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2023



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