When bastions of culture join forces

Published: November 24, 2015
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The delegations discussed strategy to promote research, performances and the initiation of a residency programme for artists. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

The delegations discussed strategy to promote research, performances and the initiation of a residency programme for artists. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

KARACHI: 

When two steady forces of performing arts combine, things are bound to look up. Karachi’s National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) and the Islamabad-based Lok Virsa are collaborating on a string of projects to open windows of opportunities for students. With Napa’s roster boasting extensive training in performing arts and Lok Virsa’s specialised focus on folk and heritage, the institutes aim to channelise their resources for collective growth and greater prospects.

The Lok Virsa delegation that visited Napa from the capital included Lok Virsa Executive Director Dr Fouzia Saeed, Museum Director Sajid Munir and senior designer Rabiia Amin. Representing Napa were Arshad Mahmud, director of programmes and administration, Khalid Ahmad, head of dramatic studies, Nafees Ahmed, head of the music department, and Zain Ahmed, artistic director of NAPA Repertory Theatre. The culture enthusiasts met last week at the Hindu Gymkhana in Karachi, a landmark of the country.

Zain told The Express Tribune, “I initially met Fouzia in Islamabad, where we discussed certain projects and a few ideas that can be streamlined for the promotion of our cultural heritage.” He added, “The two institutes can work together and strengthen collaboration to gain mutual benefits.” Fouzia said, “My vision for Lok Virsa is to make it a cultural strong-point, first on the national level and then global.”

Fouzia holds that collaboration between like-minded institutes would result in their substantive betterment and extend their reach. “My focus remains on the dissemination and promotion of culture besides preserving archival documents,” she said. “We’d like to see traditional instruments such as the rubab to be used again and our folk stories turned into plays at Napa.”

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Developing a three-pronged strategy at Napa’s end, Zain said the first thing the academy aims at promoting is research. “Lok Virsa has been doing a lot of research on folk tales and traditional music and theatre. Their research findings can be shared with the music department at Napa and together we can proceed,” he explained.

The second point of collaboration encourages more performances by artists at both ends, with hopes of staging Napa plays in Islamabad and Lok Virsa folk artists getting the opportunity to perform in Karachi. “In terms of performances, Lok Virsa has so far shown keen interest in music collaborations and children’s plays, which they want us to perform through their platform,” noted Zain. Thirdly, the institutes discussed initiating a residency programme for selected folk artists at Napa.

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Fouzia is hopeful that through their engagement, the two teams will inculcate creativity and critical thinking in the youth while also allowing them to explore identities. Lok Virsa, she said, also aspires to pave the way for more live-streaming of cultural events and establishing strong ties with the provincial directorates of culture so as to nurture a strong network at the base of the organisation. “Our youth must take pride in the nation. We must accept diversity and a pluralistic discourse in various cultural units,” she noted. “Appreciating diversity brings human beings closer and allows them to prepare the next generation more consciously.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th,  2015.

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