5 July, 2020
To highlight the impact of Covid-19 on Creative Arts, Craft and Cultural activities, Tourism and struggles of Creative Artists and art Organizations in Pakistan. Prof Salima Hashmi, Chairperson, South Asia Foundation - Pakistan & Director UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Institute for South Asian Arts (UMISAA) was also one of the Panelist.
The second session of ResiliArt Pakistan was held on 8 July 2020 and focused on the impact of COVID-19 on creative arts, crafts, publishing, cultural events, and tourism in Pakistan.
The ResiliArt movement was initiated by UNESCO Headquarters at the time the COVID-19 pandemic first began. The movement is built around a series of virtual debates with experienced professionals in the creative and cultural industries, to raise awareness of the devastating impact of this global health crisis on arts and culture around the world. The movement aims to support member states in the development of sustainable policies and financial mechanisms that can help create communities survive this crisis, and sustain their practices for the future.
Moderated by Moneeza Hashmi, the panel for the second debate included professionals from both public and private institutions, including Salima Hashmi – Chairperson Faiz Foundation Trust; Kamran Lashari – Director-General, Walled City Lahore Authority; Zulfiqar Ali Zulfi – Director Arts & Culture, Lahore Arts Council; Waqas Malik – Program Manager, Punjab Tourism for Economic Growth Project; Tanya Sani – Director Art & Culture, Punjab Council of the Arts; Ayesha Noorani – Daachi Foundation; and Ali Kamran from Sang-e-Meel Publications.
Director UNESCO Pakistan, Patricia McPhillips opened the discussion and spoke of how the diverse heritage of Pakistan provides a fertile base for cultural and creative industries, with great potential for sustainable and responsible tourism. She highlighted some of the work UNESCO is doing in Pakistan at present, and expressed her hope that the ResiliArt debates will help policymakers to better understand the needs of artists at this time, assess the viability of ongoing relief efforts, and also provide valuable guidance into devising the way forward.
The ensuing discussion highlighted how art educators need to rethink teaching methods in this era of online teaching, where collaborative studio work is not possible. Panelists outlined how arts councils are making music and art classes available online, and offering platforms for young artists to sell their work online. It was emphasized that there is a need to establish mechanisms to empower artisans and craftspeople to use technology to bring their work to a wider audience. The panelists agreed that a major challenge is that digital infrastructure is still in its nascent stages, and not widely accessible for a large section of people. These underserved communities are often where much of Pakistan’s greatest creative talent emerges from, and they urgently need support to be able to rebuild sustainable livelihoods in the post-COVID world. On a lighter note, the panelists shared how forced confinement has allowed many artists, musicians, and writers to push the limits of their creativity and explore their craft in new ways. The session concluded with the call to action to explore, innovate, and experiment with new ideas to support the vulnerable arts community in Pakistan.