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Youth Outreach and Interactive Arts Mentorship Program (YOIAM)

Cultivating curiosity, empowerment, and discourse through inclusivity in art spaces.

Photo of Karachi Biennale
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Socio-political structures in Pakistan, leave citizens ‘displaced’ - due to economic disenfranchisement, social traumas, or inefficient institutional and infrastructural bodies. The youth (between the ages of 16-25) bear the burden of navigating professional and social spaces without resources to help guide them through this ever-changing, often alienating environment. The creatives in Pakistan struggle to access higher education, employment opportunities, accessible art spaces, and even resources to address mental health. For us, the ‘displaced’ are the creative youth, who are overlooked in Pakistan’s race towards stability. Our proposal comprises of five on-going projects under the umbrella of a Youth Outreach and Interactive Arts Mentorship program (YOIAM), which will include: a mentoring program for art students ($15,000 per session), research tours ($12,500 per session), STEAM workshops ($6,700 per session), interactive art workshops ($2,000 per session), and mental health workshops ($9,000 per session). Our mentorship program will be an opportunity for art students to be mentored by established artists at the Karachi Biennale, and to learn strategies of art installation. As for our research tour, it will focus on intellectual development of emerging artists from smaller cities through exposure and engagement by carrying out research on Contemporary Art. The STEAM initiative invites media artists to hold workshops with students, and teach local educators about methodologies on introducing a STEAM curriculum that would encourage the use of Open Technology in Pakistan. The interactive art workshops, which have been held in the past, will be conducted by selected Biennale Artist. The mental health workshop (or GEMAH Karachi partnership) in collaboration with GEM is based on arts’ innate relationship with therapy and mental health; during which, emerging young artists will partake in a training program and receive psychological support.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Since we are a Karachi based organization, all our proposed programs will be held in the city. The demographic we focus on are underprivileged, creative youth primarily residing within the city and greater Pakistan. Considering that about 60 percent or more of Pakistan's population is between the ages of 16 to 25, we find that by providing support to emerging artists and youth at a vulnerable age, we can counteract or tend to disenfranchisement and traumas.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

The five proposed projects under YOIAM, act as a connector to target ‘displaced’ youth. There is disparity among the underprivileged youth interested in art and those who are given access to it. Our work aims to bridge that gap, which intrinsically discourages underprivileged youth from occupying spaces as subjects and creators (versus as audiences). Our programs will be linguistically inclusive - hence, information will be in both, English and Urdu, along with signs and artwork in Braille.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Human needs ecompass access to art, literature, technology - all of which are needed to cultivate intellectual curiosity and mental health stability. The arts cannot be confined strictly to a field of study, rather their definition needs to be inclusive of viewing it as a practice that is therapeutic for human development. By giving access to art to the underprivileged, we are counteracting societal traumas that are experienced between people on the move. Through an experimental workshop format (in YOIAM), we are able to integrate these creatives into the art world, while acknowledging their needs to reach short-term solutions at the very least. For the students coming in from inner city areas of Karachi, Hyderabad, Jamshoro, and Quetta, the initiatives will provide an opportunity to reimagine the future. We hope to create an environment through our work which ensures that contemporary art becomes a way to inquire and generate knowledge together.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Mentorship leads to career and educational guidance, research opportunities lead to preserving and contribution to the art scene, and therapeutic art practices lead to healing and addressing traumas. We will be able to detect positive changes and trends through behavioral analysis of participants and continued participation over the course of the project. Along with participation, we can measure our contribution through community feedback and new partnerships with local organizations and academic institutions. Through YOIAM, the arts community in Pakistan will hear diverse narratives that were indirectly silenced due to socio-economic marginalization, which is ever-present in the post-colonial South Asian region. The guidance and access into the art community, will allow the ‘displaced’ creatives to eventually be able to hone their skills and ultimately depict their realities at local and international art forum.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

The inspiration behind YOIAM is the theme for this year’s biennale - ecology. Therefore, its interruption through construction, development, and destruction of nature, leaves behind a footprint of what was and what could have been. ‘Displaced’ individuals are survivors of such ripples. To honor and preserve the ‘displaced’ means to nurture them - and their art. Needless to say, preservation of art comes about by empowering the marginalized through opportunities. For Karachi Biennale 2019, we will highlight the un-greening of Karachi and displacement of individuals caused by urbanisation. All of this will serve as a backdrop for discourse around displacement, not just of nature, but also of citizens. As we mourn the loss of what could have been, we look to the future - our youth - and empower it. Our five proposed projects, all find inspiration in preservation of art culture and its disintegration in the metropolis of Karachi over the years, paralleling the ecology of Pakistan.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

The community comprises of inner-city and underprivileged creatives, ranging in age from 16 to 25, coming in from all over Pakistan. We are categorizing the participants of our project as ‘displaced’ due to the nature of the realities as being economically disenfranchised and being subject to social traumas. Issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, childhood abuse, academic alienation, and mental illnesses are just a few factors contributing to their displacement. Hence, we have chosen for our programs to not solely be career oriented, but also to address the persistent issue of mental health. Political instability in the region has had long lasting post-traumatic effects on the locals, which can be dated back to the colonial era. Academically, we can categorize the community being targeted as ‘post-colonial’ subalterns yet to meaningfully narrate their traumas of displacement.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

There is certainly no shortage of creatives in Pakistan, just lack of opportunity. Karachi Biennale Trust has great relations with local and international artists who wish to lend a hand either through mentorship or art donations. By supporting emerging artists, we are also able to draw attention to established artists whose work has shaped the contemporary art scene in Pakistan. We have a working relationship with primary and secondary schools, and universities in the 1-mile radius of the KBT office. In the past, we have had a strategy that engaged students and faculty alike. We reached out to 1109 students from 13 unique school through our ‘KB17 In Your School’ workshops, and around 80 A-Level students through the ‘Art Think Tank Phase 1’ held at three schools. All of which were part of Karachi Biennale 2017. During KB17, we reached out to 2023 students and 195 teachers from a total of 30 schools.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

For the arts mentorship project, Karachi Biennale Trust will be collaborating with renowned artists in Karachi. As for the research tour, we will be working with the Institute of Art and Design (Sindh University), Centre for Education in Art and Design (Mehran University), Fine Arts Department (Balochistan University) and Balochistan University of Information Technology. For STEAM workshops and seminars, we will be inviting media artists, Wolfgang Spahn and Stephen Kovats, who we have worked with us in the past on three workshops in 2017. As for the interactive art workshops, they will be led in collaboration with an established Biennale Artist. Lastly, the mental health project, will be in partnership with GEM; they will be providing professionals to lead the mental health workshops. Notably, we have a history of working with local grassroot women and transgender rights’ organizations, like, Aurat Foundation, Gender Interactive Alliance, and ZVMG Rangoonwala Trust.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Other

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Pilot: We have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users. The feasibility of an innovation is tested in a small-scale and real world application (i.e. 3-15% of the target population)

Group or Organization Name

Karachi Biennale Trust

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

The Karachi Biennale Trust was founded, in 2016, by a group of visual art professionals and educators as a dynamic platform to promote creativity, innovation and criticality in the visual arts. It is a not-for-profit organization, whose focus is to create a public audience for art and its projects offer a chance to revisit Pakistan’s past and recognize it’s contemporary challenges. Karachi Biennale has been conceived as an international art forum that penetrates the city with improvised exhibition spaces where innovative art from Pakistan and overseas can be showcased. Hence, we find ourselves the perfect fit to address youth engagement in the arts, which we deem as a transformative experience in building a better future for generations to come. Through facilitating accessible ‘Public Art presence’ in the city, we hope to initiate conversation addressing the lack of youth mobilization efforts which ultimately could create a safer, inclusive space for emerging artists.

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country


Organization Headquarters: City / State

Karachi, Sindh

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Photo of Shak Dosti

Wonderful idea!

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