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FEATURE STORY

Combining Art and Culture with Technology to Educate and Inspire

November 25, 2015

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Hundreds of students, adults, and children from all walks of life across Pakistan attended the Art Tech Festival to learn about the intersection of art and technology to promote entrepreneurship and employment. 

Joe Qian/World Bank

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • With most of Pakistan’s population being young women and men under the age of 25; engaging, empowering, and including youth are critical for Pakistan to reach its development potential.
  • Hundreds of youth, students, and gathered in Peshawar, Pakistan over the weekend to learn about combining art and technology to better understand their cultural heritage while building entrepreneurship and employability skills in the creative and cultural industries.
  • “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,” said 15 year-old Rabia from Peshawar.

Technology and art are universal and complementary. Yet, most people do not often think about how they intersect and can be used to enhance one another. What are the possibilities when you combine the two? As it turns out, the first Art Tech Festival in Peshawar created a spark that inspired youth to learn, reflect, and think about new possibilities.

Hundreds of people from across Pakistan converged on the Peshawar Museum in the country’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to celebrate the region’s history and cultural heritage, learn from artists and technologists who have successfully created a market for their products, and develop skills in filmmaking, robotics, animation, and other cutting-edge trends. For some, the beauty and treasures of the museum in themselves were awe-inspiring and thought provoking, with sculptures and artworks dating back thousands of years. 


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The Peshawar Museum boasts artifacts dating back almost two thousand years showcasing the region’s rich cultural and artistic heritage. 

Joe Qian/World Bank

" I enjoyed the Art Tech Festival very much. The teachers at the work shop are great and I have learned so much. These days have been the best days of my life and I am looking forward to the next one.  "

Malaika Ibrar

14 year-old student from Peshawar

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Workshop attendants learned about and worked on every aspect of filmmaking. Their videos were showcased at the conclusion of the event to wide acclaim.  

Joe Qian/World Bank

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.


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