Pakistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have old, deep, complex, and multi-faceted traditions of culture and art. At the same time, Pakistan is a young country looking to the future. 60% of Pakistan’s population are young women and men under the age of 25. Engaging youth with skills, ideas, and knowledge is critical for the country’s future.
“The answers for the future of KP are right in this room. Entrepreneurship, technology, traditions, and investing in youth,” said Anthony Cholst, World Bank Operations Advisor for Pakistan at the event opening. “Put all of this together to create smart solutions, to recognize youth skills and passion, and to connect them with other young people from other disciplines to create new markets, new ideas, and new products.”
Students were inspired by presenters such as Mahoor Jamal, a fashion illustrator and portrait artist from Peshawar, who uses Instagram—an online photo site—to showcase her work and connect with an international audience and to sell her work around the world. Jawad Afridi, a photographer and founder of Humans of Peshawar uses Facebook to exhibit his photographs of the people of Peshawar. This has earned him customers and recognition beyond Pakistan, and he recently contributed to the publication of a book in the UK.
Experts from Filmmakers without Borders organized two day workshops with participants on every aspect of filmmaking: from scriptwriting and soundtrack selection to interviewing and editing on the same software used by Hollywood and Bollywood. Three videos were completed and showcased at the conclusion of the fest; an event highlight video, a documentary, and a fiction film that were completely student-led and produced.
The short films were well crafted and received enthusiastic applause from the audience. When asked about her experience, 15 year old Rabia from Peshawar said with a smile and a tear, “I’m very excited to be here, I didn’t know what to expect before but I’ve learned how to use a camera, how to film, how to ask questions, and how to make a movie. I’m very emotional today,”
For many in this region of Pakistan that have experienced instability over the last decades, it was not only their first exposure to the potential of technology in the global market, it was also their first time meeting new friends from around the world. Students of all ages highlighted how much they’ve learned, and had been exposed to a broader and more exciting world of possibilities.
Additionally, there was impressive social media coverage of the event due to a combined effort of youth, sponsors, partners, and the World Bank to get the word out and share highlights with audiences around the world. The hashtags #ArtTechFestival and #ArtTechKP both trended as the top ten most discussed topics in Pakistan on Twitter, reaching millions of people with messages of inspiration and possibilities.
“I enjoyed the Art Tech Festival very much. The teachers at the work shop are great and I have learned so much,” said 14 year old Malaika Ibrar from Peshawar. “These days have been the best days of my life and I am looking forward to the next one.”
The ArtTech Festival is among a number of community building and awareness raising events supported by the KP IT Board, the Tourism Corporation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Cultural Department of KP, Peshawar 2.0 and the World Bank such as the Digital Youth Summit. Last month, the Government of KP recently announced 2016 as the “Year of Technology”, outlining a comprehensive program to foster opportunities for youth in the knowledge economy and digital industries.