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PNCA director general Jamal Shah addresses media persons on Thursday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
PNCA director general Jamal Shah addresses media persons on Thursday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: A complex of performing arts and cinema houses will be set up in the capital to provide modern entertainment facilities to citizens, Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) Director General Jamal Shah said on Thursday.

Mr Shah was speaking at a media briefing on the National Cultural Policy and National Film and Performing Art Policy, and how to prepare a framework for their implementation at the PNCA.

He said a film academy will be built in H-9 which will have four cinema houses, studios and a training centre, while the PNCA will add eight cinema screens. Another centre for performing arts will be built in Shakarparian.

‘Proposed culture policy would pave way for making culture integral part of national development’

Mr Shah also spoke about recommendations adopted by more than 500 artists from across the country at the National Artists Convention this February, to be incorporated into the National Cultural Policy.

The recommendations were prepared after discussions that emphasised the reinterpretation of the national narrative on art and culture, education reforms through the integration of culture and performing arts in the school curriculum and artists’ welfare.

The proposed policy envisages a constitutional guarantee of the fundamental right to the freedom of artistic expression of art, be it visual, performing, television, theatre, radio, music and dance, tangible, intangible and vernacular heritage, he said.

The policy that was approved by the PML-N government, would pave way for making culture a “necessity of life and integral part of the national development”, he said.

The roadmap would lead to cultural mainstreaming, diplomacy and the promotion of harmony, pluralism and cultural diversity of the country.

He said the policy was an inclusive and participatory document prepared with input and commitments from federal and provincial stakeholders.

If the creative economy is to be truly established it should have the status of a nascent industry and given all the incentives and tax exemptions that such a business model requires, he added.

He said the PNCA would set up an online database that will include the circulation of entitlements, benefits and information on events, as well as opportunities for research, training, capacity building, acquisition of technology and enhancement of marketing skills for creative products that are available both domestically and internationally.

While discussing steps to promote the film industry, Mr Shah emphasised the need for a robust cultural infrastructure, a museum of moving images, archives, a national library of movies, artists’ records and scripts, the conservation of old Pakistani films, free and secure access to landmarks, monuments and historical locations for shooting, the re-launch of national film awards, pop-up cinemas with zero taxes all over the country, the establishment of film academies in cities and Pakistani film festivals that are held internationally on a regular basis.

He also called for a centralised censor board consisting of seasoned artists from the industry and with academic backgrounds.

The policy also recommends the removal of no-objection certificates for theatre performances from the civil administration and district management and police clearance from respective police stations.

Mr Shah said that great emphasis would be given to art and culture, and to boost Pakistan’s cultural image, for which a separate ministry of culture must be established.

Art galleries should be exempted from sales tax, intellectual property legislation should be introduced to discourage plagiarism of art and Pakistan should activate cultural pacts through the embassies, he said.

A national curriculum based on art and culture must be introduced in schools and colleges while the universities should train teachers to teach the arts.

The Higher Education Commission and other funding agencies, should promote art and art subjects more robustly, including by funding departments and scholarships, he said, adding that culture must be included as a subject in the civil service examinations.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2018