The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Pakistan National Council of the Arts today announced the launch of a new web site—Gift of the Indus: The Arts & Culture of Pakistan—at a special ceremony with First Lady of the United States Laura Bush; First Lady of Pakistan Begum Sehba Musharraf; Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser and Kennedy Center Vice President for Education Darrell M. Ayers, as well as Washington-area high school students. The event also included a brief performance by world-renowned Pakistani tabla player, Sattar Khan "Tari" accompanied by Ghulam Farid Nizami on the sitar.
"Today we are celebrating a milestone in a relationship between the Kennedy Center and the people of Pakistan," said Mr. Kaiser, who made his first trip to Pakistan earlier this year at the suggestion of Mrs. Bush. He began discussions with the Pakistan National Council of the Arts and its leader, Mr. Naeem Tahir, about ways they could work together to strengthen the arts infrastructure of that nation. Since that first trip six months ago, a great deal has been accomplished, including: developing a plan for cooperative efforts, conducting the first arts management seminar in Islamabad, planning a collaborative children's theater project and creating the web site being launched today.
"We believed this web site was central to our joint mission of building awareness of the beauty and richness of Pakistani culture because it gives people around the world, especially young people, a look at this remarkable cultural heritage," Mr. Kaiser said.
"Learning about other cultures and countries is at the heart of diplomacy," said Mrs. Bush. "By learning about Pakistani music, literature and theater, we also learn about the people of Pakistan and their rich heritage."
"Diversity has been the essence of our people and traditions," said Mrs. Musharraf. "The people of Pakistan are making a real contribution in preserving the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the country. These can be seen in our art, architecture and literature."
"We are making a great beginning in the right direction. Thanks to the vision of President Musharraf and President Bush. I am determined to take this vision of friendship and peace forward through better understanding," said Mr. Tahir.
The site, designed for young people (especially ages 13-18) in the United States, Pakistan and around the world to learn more about the arts and culture of this South Asian nation, is the result of a unique partnership between the Kennedy Center and the Pakistan National Council of the Arts.
The site is divided into three main areas:
Each section is filled with information as well as audio and video clips, text and images that bring the arts and culture of Pakistan to life. In addition, there are areas throughout the site to help visitors learn more about the Pakistani language and culture.
Finally, a special blog called Mehfil—the Urdu word for a gathering place—has been set up for students to blog about the arts and culture of Pakistan and the United States. With guest moderators in the U.S. and Pakistan, this online space will promote and provide opportunities for cultural exchange and awareness between students—specifically teenagers living in those countries, or with a deep interest in the arts of South Asia. The goals include giving space to the exchange of ideas and information about each culture and its arts, as well as to encourage bi-cultural students living abroad to share their perspectives.
ARTSEDGE, a program of the Kennedy Center's Education Department, is one of the nation's leading creators of free arts education materials for teachers, students and families, producing educational media resources delivered across multiple platforms—video, audio, interactive and print—that work together to create an immersive arts experience. From media-rich interactives, innovative performance guides and Podcasts for young audiences to free, standards-based lesson plans and guidelines for arts-based instruction for educators, ARTSEDGE serves teachers, students, and families by supporting teaching and learning in, through and about the arts.
THE KENNEDY CENTER EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
The Kennedy Center has established one of the most extensive arts education programs in the world—reaching more than 11 million people across the nation each year. Since its establishment in 1972, the Kennedy Center's Education Department has dramatically expanded its education programs. Young people, teachers, artists, and families participate in and use the Kennedy Center's many innovative and effective education standards-based resources and programs in person, in print, via satellite and on the internet through performances, classes, lecture/demonstrations, open rehearsals, residencies, seminars, master classes, professional development, and advanced training for young actors, dancers, musicians, and arts administrators. The Kennedy Center's Education Department is committed to promoting higher standards for national performing arts education programs and policy.
PAKISTAN NATIONAL COUNCIL OF THE ARTS
The Pakistan National Council of the Arts is entrusted with the role of promoting the visual and performing arts throughout Pakistan. It safeguards the interest of the community, promotes and projects the national heritage and plays a crucial role in building a positive image for Pakistan on the domestic and international arena. Aims, objectives and functions determined by its founders are incorporated in the PNCA Act of 1973 that categorically give the council the posture of a policy-making and coordinating agency in the field of culture and the arts.
Stove Boat Productions, a media services and web development company in Washington, D.C., was a creative partner in the development of Gift of the Indus: The Arts and Culture of Pakistan.
For more information about The Gift of the Indus: The Arts and Culture of Pakistan, please visit www.artsedge.kennedy-center.org/pakistan.