LAHORE - The British Council’s festival ‘Heritage Now’ concluded on Sunday at Alhamra. More than 30 foreign and 25 national delegates participated in its panel discussion.

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s ‘Home 1947’ remained the centre of attraction while panel discussions underlined the need for joint work to preserve heritage.

British Council Country Director Rose Marry Hilhorst said “We have engaged 14 British organisations and this conference was about partnership as working together is always better. It’s about the past, present and future of this country.”  Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan Margaret Adamson said such festivals show the colors of regional cultures. The envoy stressed the need for concerned efforts to save heritage.

Praising the visitors’ passion, the diplomat said: “I heard nearly ten thousand people have come to this conference and overwhelmingly we have seen the young people.

In a session titled ‘Audience Development and Museums’ Birmingham Museums Trust curator Rebecca Bridgman highlighted the role of trust, saying: “It the largest independent charitable trust in the UK attracting 1.25 million visitors annually across its 9 sites.”

“We have made huge strides in recent years in reflecting Birmingham’s communities and diversifying our audience.

 “Our collection comprises more than 800,000 objects mostly acquired in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which don’t necessary speak to engage or reflect the modern audience. So to move forward we gave been radically re-thinking to what to collect in order to create new displays that better reflect the stories of today’s Birmingham and its people.

“We are asking the people of city to tell what objects we should be acquiring and which stories we should be telling to date. As such the acquisition of over 300 objects through consultation with over 1,500 people in the city was made,” she said.

Lok Virsa Director Fauzia Saeed said the museums in Pakistan won communities engagement in the past three years.

Horniman Museum Director Tim Corum said they cover a wide range of topics from marine biology, world cultures, gardening, animal world and history of music making and instruments. Museum staffs are actively involved in research, fieldwork and collection, resulting in publications, conference presentations, exhibitions, broadcasts and film. Our aim is to bring the youth towards museum,” he said.

Session ‘Diversity of Culture and Religious Expression’ was moderated by Basit Kashul.

Lead Curator of South Asian Collections at British Library (BL) Nur-Sobers Khan said at BL, they were doing documentation of archives and sponsored projects of protecting endangered language.

According to estimates, 6,500 of world’s language are on endangered list and half of them will extinct extant by the end of century.

Additionally BL is also running a Endangered Archives Programme dealing with material objects that are being at risk of being lost and third programe is about manuscripts of last number and BL got half a million manuscripts in Urdu, Sanskrit and in Indo-Persian.  “One copy has used to send India office in Dehli and other one to British Library in colonial era. These treaties are itself textual resources that haven’t been preserved. Any topic you could conceive of popular history it was there in the manuscripts in BL database,” she said.

Adjunct Professor at Macquarie University Ross Burns said he just completed his book on Middle Eastern Syrian conflict. “I started the book in 2011 and completed it just before Aleppo was liberated from ISIS.

“For me cultural and religious expressions are about the passage of civilisation which always remains in transition of period. You cannot point out when changed occurred.

“In last few years we have seen the emergence and downfall of self-styled Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq as it failed to convince people. The IS took over with the help of violence and armed intervention,” he said. 

Ross Burns, who is the author of four books, said according to his study in Aleppo, Sunni Muslim ruler Saladin built few monuments and mosques to give message to Shia minority.

“Even Australian society condemned the minority-leader who outraged and mocked the Burqa in Australian Parliament. This is not the way Australians deals with people coming from other lands,” he said.

Christophe Jaffrelot of Sciences Po University Paris said he just finished a book on interaction between South Asia and Middle East. He said Sufi heritage and traditions in Pakistan is under threat due to terrorist attacks on Sufi shrines. He claimed that all Sufi orders spread in South Asia were based on territorial dimensions and none of founder of Sufi orders ever went to Mecca on Hajj pilgrimage.  Alhamra Arts Council Executive Director Atta Muhammad Khan said through such festivals, world would get the message that Pakistan a hub of culture activities.

On Saturday, special food court served a variety of traditional items while stalls of crafts, including handicrafts from Gilgit Baltistan, were the centre of visitor’s attraction.  A good number of people rallied around a Rangeela Rickshaw parked at the event venue. The British Council set up special spot for book lovers where they could also enjoy tea and talk. Rafi Peer Theatre arranged a puppet show, depicting the Mughal emperor Akbar’s era story.