Punjab Culture Policy
The much-awaited step must translate into
On the direction of Punjab Chief Minister, Sardar Usman Buzdar, the maiden cultural policy of Punjab has been approved. With the aim to safeguard and revive the cultural heritage of the province, the policy promises to enhance the economic, social, spiritual and personal wellbeing of the people. If enforced and adhered to properly, it has the potential to uplift the community. At the same time, however, the authorities must keep in mind the fact that worker, labour and creator exploitation is a very real risk that tends to breach upon the welfare of the people. This should be considered and tackled simultaneously.
Following are some salient features of the policy:
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 prohibit 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 project 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 an environment conducive to growth of creative and cultural industries. The government will be required to map the cultural sector to identify and prioritise 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.
The Culture Policy is more of a visionary statement. For instance, it will work towards behavioural transformation; strengthening institutions; developing sector-specific associated councils, business plans and attract private investment; introducing cultural entrepreneurship, taking tax reduction incentives, etc. It also throws light on conducting festivals, celebrating days and promoting folk dance and music.
Mere intangible measures cannot bring factual changes in society. The process should be palpable. The benefits of the culture policy can only be incurred if the policy is correctly understood, rightly directed and amalgamated with economic factors to incur monetary and communal returns. It is now time to carve out a comprehensive strategic plan by clearly devising the responsibilities of the state, its actors and their respective actions.
The writer is a member of staff.