Pakistan Culture and Development Programme at Lok Virsa
With an objective to highlight Pakistani art, culture and national heritage together with sustainable development and economic growth through artistic expression and creative entrepreneurship, the Embassy of Denmark launched ‘Pakistan Culture and Development Programme’ funded by Government of Denmark at Lok Virsa on Tuesday.
Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, Senator Pervaiz Rashid and Ambassador of Denmark Jesper Moller Sorensen launched the programme in the presence of large number of dignitaries and representatives from civil society, art and culture sector, diplomatic corps, international community, government, academic institutions and media.
In his speech, Ambassador Sorensen stated that “Art and culture are important means to bridge differences, to create tolerance, and ultimately to provide opportunities for every single individual, regardless of who they are. Unfortunately, cultural space has been challenged in Pakistan in recent years. It is especially during challenging times that we must support those in society, who have the talent and desire to express themselves in innovative and creative ways”.
Ambassador Sorensen also highlighted that one part of the program is a focus on creative industries and economic growth.
“One should never underestimate the importance of creativity and innovation in the private sector. In that sense, the focus on creative industries goes hand-in-hand with our renewed efforts to bring more Danish businesses to Pakistan, and thus help create jobs and growth”, said the Ambassador.
The two-year program is being implemented by the Danish Centre for Culture and Development (CKU) in collaboration with national civil society organisations in all four provinces of Pakistan, as well as FATA and Gilgit-Baltistan regions. The total size of the programme is US$3.7 million.
The ceremony featured folk, musical and theatrical performances by CKU’s partner organizations i.e. Cholistan Story Tellers by Lok Virsa’s Raanti Group, scenes from acclaimed play “Bulleh Shah” by Ajoka Theatre and musical performance by student-teacher duo from Balochistan on Baloch folk musical instruments ‘Saroz’ and ‘Chaghaka’ by CYAAD.
Earlier, during the ceremony, CKU Executive Director Elsebeth Krogh introduced the goals and objectives of the program.
She stated that it would provide important intercultural cooperation between Denmark and Pakistan. ”The aim is that the programme will contribute to ongoing Danish efforts in Pakistan for poverty alleviation through stabilization and peace building and enhanced human rights and gender equality”, said Krogh.
The programme comprises three components including empowerment of people through active participation in art and cultural activities, enhancement of economic growth through creative industries and promotion of intercultural dialogue and intercultural collaboration at national, regional and international levels.
The CKU is mandated by the Danish Government through the Danish development strategy ‘The Right to Art and Culture’ to support and implement culture and development programs in Denmark’s priority countries, which include Pakistan. The
Pakistan Program will focus on supporting ethnic and religious minorities, as well as women, youth, local artists and artisans, entrepreneurs and civil society organizations by providing larger access to art, culture and creative industries and public-private partnership
In her welcome remarks, Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr Fouzia Saeed highlighted the role and ongoing activities of Lok Virsa for preservation and promotion of Pakistan’s art, cultural and folk heritage. Appreciating Denmark and CKU for bringing a dynamic art and culture program to Pakistan, she expressed the hope that it will provide a much needed platform and opportunity for Pakistan’s art and culture sector to thrive and play its role in the country’s progress and development.