Amendments to Arts Council constitution proposed -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Amendments to Arts Council constitution proposed

By Peerzada Salman

KARACHI: The open air auditorium brimmed with a large number of members of the council during a special general body meeting of the Arts Council Karachi on Tuesday evening. The purpose of the meeting was to gain members’ approval of the proposed amendment(s) to the constitution of the council.

The meeting was presided over by the vice-president of the council Prof Ajaz Farooqui in the absence of the president who was unwell. The honorary secretary Ahmed Shah conducted the event. Dignitaries like deputy speaker of the Sindh Assembly Shehla Raza, writer Fatima Surrayya Bajia, Lutfullah Khan and media person Farhad Zaidi were among the prominent personalities that attended the meeting.

Ahmed Shah gave a brief background to the meeting and told the members about the spirit behind the proposed amendments. He talked about the effort that the council was doing in introducing and improving certain facilities on its premises (an art gallery is being made, a studio is being established etc). Shedding light on relief work for the flood victims, he said the council could’ve gone to the affluent for help but it wanted to involve the community, so it collected millions of rupees for the cause from its members.

He appreciated the founding members of the council and its past office bearers for doing a great job and referred to, and praised, the constitution made in 1999. He rejected the notion that amendments were being brought to ouster his opponents. He said there were some cases filed against them and efforts were made to even stop the general body meeting from taking place. Therefore, he said, if approved amendments couldn’t be implemented till Oct 21.

Then Ahmed Shah read out the proposed amendments most of whom were approved by a majority of members by raising their hands. They included Article 1 (b) about art lovers; Article 1(d) about the patron member of the council; Article 2 about membership admission fee; Article 4(a) about suspension of membership; Article 5 about annual general body meeting date; Article 9 about the governing body (whose members have been increased with two new posts, president and joint secretary; Article 9(a) about eligibility of the governing body; Article 9(b)(iv) about hearing and dealing with complaints; Article 10(a)(i) about ex-officio president (now the district coordination officer would be chairman, not president); Article 10(a)(ii) about the vice-president (the president would preside over all meetings); Article 10(a)(iv) about the treasurer (who would now assist the secretary in financial matters); Article 11 about election of the governing body members and office bearers; Article 11(a) about tenure of the governing body; Article 13; Article 17; and Article 21.

While Ahmed Shah was reading out the proposals, Fatima Surraya Bajia came up with the idea that the tenure for the governing body should be two years.

This elicited a loud reaction from the members and the house looked visibly divided. Then the idea was taken back (one year duration was retained).

But the auditorium witnessed a lot of din and ruckus when the secretary read out the proposed amendment to Article 10(a)(iv) about the treasurer. A few members (M Ayub) stood up on the occasion and vociferously opposed the amendment that the treasurer would assist the secre-tary in financial matters and would report to the secretary in case of any discrepancies.

The existing article says the treasurer shall supervise the maintenance of the entire operation of Arts Council’s funds along with maintenance of accounts books, registers etc.

The situation was somehow calmed down and the meeting then went on with the approval of the house.

In the end the vice-president of the Arts Council Prof Ajaz Farooqui thanked the members for attending the meeting.

It is a given that it’s the council’s duty to promote and project all aspects of arts and culture in Karachi. The meeting would’ve had more weight had measures taken to promote ‘art’ and ‘culture’ in the city also been touched upon or a plan for such projects was provided, or even sought from members.

Though a lot of praiseworthy events have happened lately, it has been witnessed the oftentimes music concerts at the Arts Council feature second or third-tier artists that not always reflect a concerted effort on its part. Not just activities but quality activities would do it, and the citizens of Karachi, the world of good.

Then infighting among council members for various reasons should be handled in a careful manner, for the council’s to do with the arts and culture and discord or disagreement among its members creates an atmosphere that’s not conducive to healthy happenings.

And in the present socio-political environment in the country promotion of art and culture in their true spirit is badly needed.
Source: Dawn