After a hiatus of five years post-Covid, Pakistan Youth Festival returned for its next session in Arts Council Karachi this year. The festival ran its course from 23rd January to 29th January 2023, focusing on different facets of art, ranging from theatre to dance.
Over 4,000 participants from all over Karachi registered at the event in a bid to showcase their talent in different areas, including music, dance, theatre, declamation, painting, general knowledge, and creative writing, and win prizes up to 200,000 in each category.
History of Pakistan Youth Festival
Pakistan Youth Festival was started 16 years ago by Ahmad Shah, President Arts Council, with 12 categories and a prize purse of Rs. 100,000. The festival ran until 2018, with a rousing anthem, “Main Karachi, Main Karachi” epitomizing the diversity, energy, and spirit of the event and the city.
The festival witnessed over 50,000 participants across different categories during the first year.
Talking about the history of the festival, Ahmad Shah said, “I started Pakistan Youth Festival with a goal to offer a platform for youngsters when we realized there are no quiz competitions or music societies at the universities. Only English-medium schools with high fees offer these activities, but they are accessible to kids of upper-class families. Our large pool of talent comprises youth from middle- or lower-income brackets, who can’t afford these privileges”.
He further added, “This is where our festival helps! We have brought many talented kids to the forefront. Our alumni are lead actors, professional photographers, and painters”.
Why Pakistan Youth Festival?
Youth festivals play an important role in the personal and social development of young people and
enable them to meet and interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures, fostering a sense of community and belonging.
59% of Pakistan’s population is youth but their potential goes to waste due to lack of opportunities. Through Pakistan Youth Festival, I aim to offer youngsters a platform where they can find their passion and the desire to pursue it.
Pakistan Youth Festival serves as a means of promoting positive values and behaviors, such as teamwork and leadership. It also plays an important role in the personal and social development of young people.
Goals of Pakistan Youth Festival
The goal of the Pakistan Youth Festival is to empower youngsters by offering them equal and fair opportunities – irrespective of their financial status, education, caste, creed, gender, or ethnicity.
I want to create an inclusive, plural society, where people get selected based on their talent and talent alone.
Another key objective of the festival is to promote cultural exchange and understanding among young people, helping to build a more inclusive and harmonious society.
These youth festivals also introduce us to new talent. As per Shah, Wahab Bhugti, Hiba Bukhari, Yumna Siddiqui, and Kaifi Khalil, who are now lauded for their mesmerizing performances worldwide, have come from these programmes.
While Pakistan Youth Festival 2023 exudes the vibrancy that is typical of this high-spirited event, this year’s festival is bigger and better than before. That’s because it is not only limited to Karachi, but will also take place in the US (New York, San Francisco, Houston, and Chicago), Canada (Toronto), UAE (Dubai), UK (London), and Europe (Paris, Berlin).
True to its “Global connectivity through culture” theme, the festival will be an attempt to build bridges between Pakistan and the West.
What Lays Ahead for Artists?
Aside from the Pakistan Youth Festival, Arts Council Karachi plans to launch many new initiatives for artists, such as a cultural exchange programme, an NYE-accredited film academy, a dictionary of alumni, and a fine arts and performing arts university.
During our conversation, Shah also hinted at offering free IT education for kids in public schools and madrassas.
I want to connect culture and IT in a way that artists get independent and earn their livelihood through digital media.
Let’s hope for the best!
Fizza Abbas is an internationally-published writer and the author of two poetry collections: Bakho and Ool Jalool. She regularly writes for Dawn, Something Haute and Arre India. Her work has been nominated and/or shortlisted for Best of The Net and Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition 2021.
She hopes to get her poems published in 10,000 journals by the end of 2030. Besides writing, she runs an interview series for writers and zine editors on her YouTube channel (Fizza Writes). She can be reached at [email protected] She tweets @fizzawrites.