ISLAMABAD: Dr Fouzia Saeed is known more as a rights’ activist than a promoter of indigenous culture, however, she maintains that she has balanced both roles throughout her diversified career. Saeed assumes charge as executive director (ED) at Lok Virsa National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage on Tuesday (today).
“Some people call me a workaholic, but I think I connect my personal, public and community responsibilities well so it may seem I am working all the time,” she said in an interview with The Express Tribune.
The appointment comes with its own set of responsibilities and challenges. “To me, the senior manager is like a music composer — you have to know how to play your team. People have different strengths and passions and the manager needs to know how to make them work,” shared Saeed.
Handling budgets and resources will be one of the major challenges for Saeed. “There are so many creative ideas, but the institute will need resources. The Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage already seems very supportive and helpful so I believe that’s a good sign,” she said.
There is much that needs to be done for people who are key instruments of preservation and promotion of our heritage, such as folk artists, crafts people, singers, storytellers, theatre groups, dancers and entertainers, she said.
“Actually, in a way these people are the owners of Lok Virsa. The institute has to look after them and strengthen them first,” she said.
Talking about Lok Virsa’s ‘past glory’, she said “I have seen Lok Virsa in those times. There is so much the institute can do, both locally and internationally.”
Regarding Saeed’s previous stint at the institute, she informed that she visited Lok Virsa as a university student and fell in love with it. “I could not believe that places like these exist as I fitted so well into every its aspect,” she said, explaining that when later she began working there she realised the intricacies of working in a government department.
“I learnt the way the bureaucracy operates and reacts but all that made me a stronger professional,” shared Saeed, and informed that she has kept touch with colleagues, folk performers, crafts people and other cultural personalities associated with the institute.
Saeed has taken part in many folk cultural activities over the last 15 years. She published her research on women in folk theatre with Lok Virsa in 2012. Talking about women empowerment, a topic close to her heart, Saeed likened the issue to a game of snakes and ladders. “We are more empowered now, but we have gone back on many fronts also.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2015.