Don't worry, T2F isn't shutting its doors just yet

Updated 24 Jun, 2021 07:57pm

Images Staff

On ground operations have been suspended since May, due to the lockdown, but Sabeen Mahmud's legacy is still running online.

Photo: T2F/Facebook
Photo: T2F/Facebook

T2F is the brainchild of the late Sabeen Mahmud and has been one of Karachi's safest spaces for both conversation and community. On Thursday, Twitter was heartbroken over reports that it was shutting down, but T2F isn't closing its doors just yet.

A report published by The Guardian on June 24 spoke about the "‘tragic’ closure of Sabeen Mahmud’s community venue T2F in Karachi" and led to an outpouring of grief and confusion on Twitter about the 'closure'.

But the 'closure' isn't a closure. T2F's on ground operations have been suspended due to the pandemic, director Shakil Jafri told Images. The suspension isn't anything new — it was announced in May.

The May post said that T2F’s sources of revenue, “including donations, income from the cafe, gallery and programs dried up” during the lockdown and it has become “difficult to maintain its physical and online activities till the situation improves”.

T2F shut down its cafe and indoor space to comply with the government's directives against indoor dining. It isn't holding any indoor programmes either right now and has been airing content from its archives on social media. Jafri compared their situation to that of NAPA or Arts Council, which have also suspended their programmes due to the government's Covid directives.

"The board will decide the future of T2F at its meeting," Jafri said. But so far, there's no meeting scheduled.

Marvi Mazhar, the former director of T2F and a close friend of Mahmud, told Images that while she didn't know about future logistics, if T2F were to shut down, it would be a failure on the community's part. She doesn't believe T2F should have a board at all and says it should be owned by the public. If everyone sees a part of Sabeen in themselves, T2F can expand, she said.

To her, the space is an open forum for all to own. She said T2F has been in its downfall since 2015 and is quite misunderstood. "Everyone thinks 'we know better'. Sabeen is gone and we can’t replicate her brain but we can learn from the mandate," Mazhar said, explaining that we can learn what Mahmud wanted for T2F from T2F's archives and previous conversations.

It's not all radical conversations, she said. "There's poetry and music and dance too."

When asked about The Guardian report of T2F shutting down, she said it would not be due to Covid. "It [would be] a management issue."

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