KARACHI: A couple of months back, a news item appearing in a foreign publication claiming that the known cultural space T2F would soon close its doors to the public for good caused a great deal of concern among countless of its visitors. It wasn’t true. T2F has been furthering the cause of culture and art in society ever since its inception in 2007. Its initial success owed a great deal to the unflinching creative efforts of the remarkable young woman Sabeen Mahmud heading its operations. She was shot dead in 2015.

Although after her death both the quality and quantity of programmes held at the cultural centre dipped a bit, it did not permanently close its doors and kept coming up with interesting events. Unfortunately, during the pandemic the decrease in the number of programmes made some question its future; and the story appearing in the foreign newspaper did not help. But a press release issued on Monday by the Board of Directors (BoD) of Peace/Niche-T2F cleared the air. Its opening sentence reads:

“Keeping in view the mounting challenges faced by the Peace/Niche-T2F, the Board of Directors has decided to reach out to friends and supporters for new ideas and suggestions for sustaining and reinvigorating the institution known for cultural production and dramatic exchange.”

Talking to Dawn chairman of the board Khalid Mahmood said when Sabeen Mahmud was murdered, it was suggested that the space be closed down. The idea was turned down. When the board took over, it started looking for a director for T2F. A few people joined in that capacity, who did a decent job, but somehow things didn’t work out as well as the board thought they would.

Mr Mahmood pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic affected the functioning of the cultural space. It also suffered financial setbacks.

He added, “Now we’re looking at a model to help us sustain the spirit of T2F. We are in touch with individuals such as Khalid Ahmed and some youngsters who have come up with suggestions to reassemble the institution. We also have ‘friends of T2F’ who will actively participate in its programmes. It’s a big challenge. We will carry on. We might have to scale it down a bit and move steadily ahead. These days we are running events [online] from our archives section. Events at a smaller level are taking place in the gallery, too. We are getting new blood. No one can replace Sabeen, though.”

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2021

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