The culture, heritage, history and language have always remained very dear to the people of Sindh. In line with the aspirations of the people of the province and to protect the cultural heritage of Sindh, a “Culture Cell” was established in Education Department, in 1976. It was given status of an Administrative Department in 1988. The department remained under transition most of the time. Initially, it was established as “Culture, Tourism, Sports, Youth Affairs and Social Welfare Department”. Later on, it was truncated to “Culture and Tourism Department”. Lately, in 2009, the department was bifurcated into “Culture Department” and “Tourism Department”.
In early 2010, 126 archaeological sites and monuments including few museums were transferred by Federal Government (Department of Archaeology and Museums) to Government of Sindh, Culture Department. In April 2011, the remaining most important archaeological sites, monuments and museums were handed over to Culture Department as a consequence of abolition of “Concurrent List” from 1973 Constitution of Pakistan, in the aftermath of Constitution 18th Amendment. Hence, the scope and domain of the department has expanded requiring renaming of the department to cover its areas of responsibility.
Culture Department promotes cultural heritage of Sindh within Pakistan and abroad; supports literary activities through establishment and maintenance of public libraries, publication of books and patronage of scholars and intellectuals; protects the historical / heritage buildings through; ensures preservation / conservation of archaeological sites and monuments in addition to their management and upkeep; regulates protection of heritage buildings; and makes efforts for the welfare of the intellectuals – writers, poets and artists – of Sindh. The department is well equipped and adequately resourced to achieve its above stated objectives and goals. The brief details of the functions and assets of the department are: For Promotion of Heritage of Sindh through cultural activities and functions, there are — Cultural Complexes, —- Open Air Theatres, —- Auditoriums, One (1) Studio, — Arts Councils, etc. Besides, the services of private sector are also utilized whenever required.
The department Supports Literary Activities through its twelve (12) Public Libraries established in major cities of the province of Sindh while many more are in the pipeline. Besides, curricular activities (reading and academic), these libraries serve as cultural centers where co-curricular, extra-curricular and cultural activities are held regularly, either in auditoriums or in available halls. Publication of Books is a regular feature of the department. Besides, the scholars, intellectuals, writers and poets are invited to read their research papers and poetry in Conferences and Seminars of the Department. The department has plans to expand its network of public libraries in all district headquarter cities of the province and in a few other towns as well.
Preservation / Conservation of recently transferred archaeological sites, monuments and museums is a challenging task ahead of Culture Department. However, the department is geared up to come up to the expectations of the people of Sindh as well as the local and international experts, professionals and archaeologists. A few development schemes have been included in the Provincial PSDP (ADP 2011-12) and the funds allocated by the Provincial Government. Other local and international sources of funding are being explored for preservation of the archaeological heritage of Sindh.
The Protection of Heritage Buildings of the province is done through the regulatory regime under Sindh Cultural Heritage (Preservation) Act, 1994. A Heritage Cell has been set up in the department to handle all cases of listing and delisting as cultural heritage under the Act of 1994. The efforts of the department for Welfare of the Intellectuals include establishment of an Endowment Fund for Needy Writers, Poets and Artists (one time financial support in need) and a Gran-in-Aid for Stipends (on monthly basis). Other sources include Legend’s Trust and direct support through Chief Minister Sindh.