Pakistani artistes to tour and perform in US

KARACHI: An international exchange programme, Centre Stage, will bring together artistes from Pakistan, Haiti and Indonesia to tour and perform in the US.

This was announced by a group of individuals from the US, who will be collaborating on the project, at an event organised by the US Consul-General at a local hotel on Friday.

Speaking to journalists, Deirdre Valente (Vice-President of Lisa Booth Management Inc) said the model programme was a government-private venture intended to bring artistes from the three countries to the US and recognise their creativity to which many didn’t have access.

She said a total of 10 groups would tour almost at the same time in May 2012, for which artists ensembles would be announced in June 2011. She said each tour would start off in Washington DC (Kennedy Centre) and a contextual and promotional plan was being made for the purpose. She said it’s a robust project as ensembles would not only perform but also share quality time with communities in the US. She said, “We’d build on it as we go.”

Chief Financial Officer of New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) Laura Paul told the media that NEFA would act as Centre Stage’s producer, supporting the programme financially, apart from providing some other services.

Director for Cultural Programmes and Performing Arts Asia Society Rachel Cooper said she was excited about Centre Stage as with deeper interaction it would provide access to artistes on both sides. She said the artistes would be sharing ideas, meals and vision and play music for each other during their time together, which would help have a better understanding of each other.

Arts and Culture Director of the Inner-city Muslim Action Network (IMAN) Asad Jafri said the programme was meant to recognise the high quality of Pakistani artistes, and young artistes in contemporary form would get an opportunity to interact with different communities and perform in America.

Executive Director AMP Concerts, Neal Copperman echoed the same sentiments.

During the question-answer session, Ms Valente said while Pakistan’s folk and traditional art forms were of no less standard, the focus of the programme was on contemporary expression. She said that 60 artistes from 10 groups would perform though she conceded that the programme might not go perfect.

Replying to a question, she said culture attracted the attention of the press, and it was time to get beyond the noise and explore other ways to know one other without resorting to easy labels. It would engage us in dialogue, she said.

The different institutions responsible for Centre Stage are the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, NEFA, the US Regional Arts Organisation, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and the Asian Cultural Council.

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