This was highlighted by key stakeholders at the launch ceremony of a new ‘Pakistan Culture & Development Program’ funded by the Government of Denmark.
The launching ceremony, which took place at the Lok Virsa, was attended by Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, Senator Pervaiz Rasheed and Ambassador of Denmark to Pakistan, H.E. Jesper Moller Sorensen. A large number of dignitaries and representatives from civil society, art and culture sector, diplomatic corps, international community, government, academic and media also attended the ceremony.
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 Center for Culture and Development (CKU) in collaboration with national civil society organizations in all four provinces of Pakistan, as well as FATA and Gilgit-Baltistan regions. The total size of the program is $ 3.7 million.
The ceremony featured entertaining and socially representative cultural, folk, musical and theatrical performances by CKU’s partner organizations. Performances included 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 program will contribute to ongoing Danish efforts in Pakistan for poverty alleviation through stabilization and peacebuilding and enhanced human rights and gender equality”, said Ms. Krogh.
The program comprises three components:
(1) empowerment of people through active participation in art and cultural activities;
(2) enhancement of economic growth through creative industries; and
(3) promotion of intercultural dialogue and intercultural collaboration at national, regional and international levels.
Earlier, Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr Fouzia Saeed also spoke.