National Cultural policy constitutionally guarantees individual’s artistic expression

Zubair Qureshi

Approval of the Charter of Demands for National Cultural Policy 2018 by the would pave the way for greater harmony and to ensure ethnic diversity. The roadmap would lead to cultural mainstreaming and diplomacy besides improving the cultural health of the country.
Director General Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) Syed Jamal Shah while addressing a press conference here on Thursday briefed the journalists about the recently approved the charter of demands for the new National Cultural Policy.
He said over 500 participating artists of the National Artists Convention from across the country had put up these recommendations in February that were approved by the outgoing government. Now the task is to develop a framework for its implementation in letter and spirit. The new cultural policy is all inclusive and participatory document having inputs and commitments from all federal and provincial stakeholders.
Artists from all over Pakistan spent marathon sessions at PNCA from February 24-26, 2018 and after thorough deliberations, they made comprehensive recommendations regarding uplift of visual arts, including government policy, educational reforms and artists’ welfare. The cornerstone of this cultural policy envisages a constitutional guarantee of the fundamental right to the freedom of peaceful artistic expression for all forms of art, be it visual, film, television, theatre, radio, music and dance, tangible, intangible and vernacular heritage.
Jamal Shah said with such an amendment the State will ensure that all persons or institutions and communities involved in artistic endeavours will have the requisite protection from harassment and extortion. 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. The PNCA, as facilitator to all practitioners of every art form will set up an online digital data base, which will include the circulation of entitlements, benefits and information of the timetable of Events and opportunities for research, training, capacity building, acquisition of technology and enhancement of the marketing skills for creative products that are available both domestically and internationally. The major inventions for the film development and promotion, he said, include the development of a robust culture infrastructure, museum of moving images, archives and national library of movies, artists’ records and scripts and conservation of old Pakistani films, free and secure access of tourists landmarks, monumental and historical places for shooting. Other measures will include dubbing of Pakistani films in international languages and the re-launch of national film awards, pop-up cinemas with zero taxes all over Pakistan, and establishment of film academies in all cities, and Pakistani film festivals internationally on regular basis.
He said Pakistan would have a centralized censor for the whole country with a censor fee uniformity and one-window-operation. Censor board must consist of seasoned artists from the industry academic backgrounds only, and no guest or irrelevant person would be allowed at censorship viewing. Heritage and historic figures would be protected not ridiculed within Pakistan. According to new policy, Jamal Shah said, the foreign content would be discouraged on TV c hannels, or restricted and heavily taxed, especially on prime time. The showbiz representation on PEMRA would be ensured. Bringing the royalty act under practice and revival of PTV previous system of royalty payment and cancellation of outright purchase system by PTV, PBC and private sector electronic media is on cards besides the revival of children programs. Removal of NOC for theatre performances from the civil administration district management and police clearance from respective thanas under section 144 would be abolished. There will be no need of NOC from script censorship from the press information department and excise and taxation department, and demand of payment in full of the tax before the sale of tickets.

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