By M.M USMANI
Sometime in 1948, a group of arts enthusiasts gathered and formed themselves into a society under the name of Karachi Fine Arts Society. The Society did a great deal of initial pioneering work to encourage and promote art s and culture. It held exhibitions and promoted activities relating to theatre. The funds of the society were contributed personally by the members themselves. They had no permanent building of their own. Their meeting was therefore held at the residence of the office bearers. Art exhibition were held in rented space in private houses.
Six Year later in 1954, the Karachi Fine Arts Society was reorganized into a body called the Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi. This was registered with the registrar of societies, Karachi, under Act XX1 of 1860. (The Registration Certificate was issued on 10th May, 1955). After its formation, the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi stepped up activities in the field of arts and culture. It also sponsored production of plays and musical programs. Since the Arts Council did not have premises of its own, it could not accomplish as much as it wished to do. A determined effort was made to have a building of the Arts Council. A fund raising campaign was launched and appeals were made to the public and the government for providing funds for the building. The plans envisaged space for exhibition halls, auditorium and administration office.
The most notable contribution in this effort was made by the then Chief Commissioner of Karachi, Mr. N.M. Khan. The allotted plot of land which is the present location of the Arts Council was consisted of 11 ,270 Sq. Yards. The foundation stone of the Arts council building was laid in 1958 by Begum Viqarunnisa Noon, wife of the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Malik Feroze Khan Noon. The Federal Government provided initial financial assistance. Donation form philanthropists and leading personalities interested in fine arts enabled the Arts Council to have its own building. The main building consists of two exhibition halls and rooms for office. Apart from this, a large ground floor lobby was also created and large room for restaurant was constructed. Lawns, Green Area and parking space were also provided. A large space consisting of 58,930 sq, ft, was reserved for the facilities to be developed later. The building was completed in 1960.
As the exhibition Halls becomes available, the Arts Council held annual exhibition of paintings and sculptures in the new premises. Other significant functions include a comprehensive exhibition of the works of Abdul Rehman Chugtai and special one man shows of contemporary painter s as well as foreign artists. The other programs include performance of dance and music by the Bulbul Fine Arts Academy of the then East Pakistan and programs jointly sponsored with the Dacca Arts Council. A number of programs including stage plays, dance and music etc., were also organized specifically to promote national integration. The Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi, is a Non-commercial and nonprofit making organization, devoted to the promotion of Arts and Cultural including teaching and education in art. The memorandum and articles of association explain fully the aims and objects of the Council. Ever since the first phase of the building was completed in 1960. The Council has been carrying on a heavy schedule of cultural activities includes, art exhibitions music concert s stage plays poetry reading seminars lectures, book launching, research on music and art and teaching and education in art.
The Arts Council has, besides these functions sponsored and provided facilities in its premises to the Central institute of Arts and Crafts. This Institute offers a four year diploma course in painting, sculpture and commercial designing etc. The diploma is recognized by the Government of Sind whose Board of Technology Education conducts and supervise the examinations. Many of our well known artists have graduated from this institution.
A major function of the Arts Council is to implement the cultural exchange programs between Pakistan and other countries. These cultural programs consist mainly of stage performances of foreign troupes, organizing exhibitions of paintings, graphics, photographs and handicrafts etc., of other countries, conducting foreign scholars, visitor and organizing their lectures under the auspices of the Council and sending Pakistani Artists and Art objects for performance and display in other countries, if so desired by the sponsors and the concerned agencies of the Federal Government.