Punjab govt approves landmark culture policy

Published October 15, 2021
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has an interest in the promotion of culture and has made efforts to celebrate Baloch Day, Sindhi Day, and Seraiki Day in Punjab. — Radio Pakistan/File
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has an interest in the promotion of culture and has made efforts to celebrate Baloch Day, Sindhi Day, and Seraiki Day in Punjab. — Radio Pakistan/File

LAHORE: The Punjab government has approved the first-ever Punjab Culture Policy of 2021 to revive and protect cultural heritage of the province and to promote cultural activity for economic, social and spiritual as well as personal well-being of the people of Punjab.

It took 11 years to launch the culture policy since devolution in 2010 as the PML-N government did not even consider this aspect.

The policy has widened the scope of culture from dance, singing and other performing arts to codes of manners, dress, language, religion, rituals, art, norms of behaviour and system of beliefs. The policy promotes libraries, book culture and reading habit, a senior government official told Dawn.

Mr Buzdar took interest in the promotion of culture and made efforts to celebrate Baloch Day, Sindhi Day, and Seraiki Day in Punjab for being an elder brother of all provinces. The Punjab government also introduced Punjab Day, which was never celebrated earlier.

The policy calls for protection and promotion of culture through strengthening institutional frameworks and governance structure; building tolerance and peace through cultural activities; safeguarding, interpretation and promotion of traditional arts and cultural heritage; ensuring community participation in cultural activities, especially of youth; and finally, developing a conducive environment for growth of creative and cultural industries.

In order to build tolerance, the Punjab government will strategise comprehensive awareness campaigns amongst the public regarding the region’s history; disseminate Sufi saints’ message of peace, positivity, love and humanism; remove negative stereotypes from the curriculum and prohibition of hate material against any ethnic or religious minority.

The cultural policy also demands widening the definition of ‘heroes’ to include individuals, both historical and contemporary, who are achievers or have had significant impact on Punjab’s history. Inter-provincial and international dialogues will be initiated besides cultural programming and media engagement to promote peace and promote a positive image of Punjab. The policy also calls for involving artists and cultural practitioners for initiating inter-cultural dialogue and peace-building programmes.

The policy looks for raising awareness among people about the intangible culture of Punjab, while folklore, folk music and dance of Punjab will be promoted.

The government will encourage the private sector to contribute to the promotion of arts and culture sector. The government in collaboration with private organizations will introduce traditional arts and craft training for transfer of traditional skills and craftsmanship. Research on culture and heritage will also be promoted.

The Punjab culture policy will also be instrumental in developing a conducive environment for growth of creative and cultural industries. The government will be required to map the cultural sector to identify and priortise cultural products and services, formulate a mechanism for collecting data to determine economic contribution of sector, including data on cultural employment, cultural contribution to GDP, and revenue generated from cultural products.

The cultural policy will help develop sector-specific associations/councils; develop a business plan to attract private investment in the sector; introduce cultural entrepreneurship and business skills training for the arts & craft sector; develop a mechanism and ensure enforcement of the copyright act to protect intellectual property; reduce sales tax and entertainment tax on cultural products; develop branding and marketing strategy for international market; promote media, arts and film as an artistic expression with support for development of local content. The policy will also look for the establishment of a film policy.

The policy will empower the government to promote tangible heritage through festivals and tourism as well as intangible heritage through language, craft, folklore and traditions.Through the culture policy, the Punjab information and culture department has required that a Strategic Planning, Monitoring and Implementation Unit be established for support and monitor the progress of the information and culture department towards implementing the policy.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2021

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