LAHORE: Days after the Touring American Hip Hop FEW Collective troupe had been detained for photographing ‘sensitive’ locations, they were made to face embarrassment in Lahore as their performance was shut down for failing to acquire required permissions to perform at the Alhamra Hall.
The American consulate in Lahore had initially refuted rumours about the permission circulating hours before the event. However with an hour to ago before the scheduled time of the performance at 5pm, consulate officials sent emails and SMSs to the media that “due to circumstances beyond our control, the venue decided it could not host the American hip hop performance tonight. We regret the inconvenience the cancellation has caused to you.”
Three days ago the American consulate in Lahore had sent invites to newspapers for press coverage of two events being organised on Monday November 21, 2011. One of these two events was about Hip Hop dance performance by the FEW Collective at 6.15 pm.
In the beginning the management of the Alhamra Art Centre remained dodged the media about the development. Despite repeated efforts no one was available to talk on record. Later in the evening on condition of anonymity an official disclosed that the consulate was unable to render an NOC and pay order, therefore we denied permission for the event to be staged. “You see it is highly sensitive matter, how can we deny them to hold program here. Almost ten programs are being organised at Alhamra these days.” An official of Alhamra further stated that he himself called the US Consulate to know about the nature of the program, they were slack to offer any help in this regard. Therefore we cancelled the program.
The Official said that to the best of his knowledge, it is DCO Lahore who gives NOC for such programs.
FEW Collective is the group whom nine members were briefly taken into custody by militray officials few days back in Islamabad while the group members were busy in taking photographs and making video footage of the Benazir Bhutto International Airport and other sensitive areas. They were released after one hour and after deleting the pictures and video records in their cameras.
Leslie Goodman Information Officer, US consulate General Lahore told The Express Tribune that they had taken a ‘No Objection Certificate’ from Ministry of Foreign affairs to host this event at Alhamara. She said that they had also informed the local police about the event taking place.
She said that despite aforesaid measures just two hours before the start of the show at around 5 pm they were informed that the event had been cancelled. She said that five hundred people were set to arrive at the function which was upset for unknown reasons.
She said that these kinds of functions aim to create an exchange of art and culture between the American and Pakistani societies. She however said that they would not comment about the circumstances under which the event was cancelled.
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