5.3 Arts and Culture

The arts, culture, heritage and creativity are fundamental to Sri Lanka’s identity as a society and to the success of its national economy. Art and the culture directly contribute to the prosperity, liveability and happiness of our communities and promote the cultural vitality of our society to the rest of the world.

Our vision is for building a creative and inclusive nation. We will work towards developing, preserving, protecting and promoting arts, cultures and heritages of all communities who have made Sri Lanka their home. We will aim to develop and support creative initiatives that contribute to acknowledging, respecting, interpreting and building upon our rich and diverse cultural heritages.

We will take steps to preserve our country’s unique and rich ancient arts and cultural heritage, while introducing the salient features of the rest of the world’s art and cultural heritage. Our cultural diversity needs to be recognised, respected and celebrated. This will contribute to strengthening the multi-cultural social fabric and healing the wounds of the past not only locally, but even beyond our national boundaries. Many different but equally valid forms of artistic expressions would encourage people to develop understanding, tolerance and respect for varied opinions and approaches.

Creative Industry Audit
We will commission a study inclusive of an island-wide creative industry audit with the aim of working out a strategy for growth and development of industry. Its findings will contribute to developing a learned model for establishing provincial cultural hubs island wide, serving as training and marketing platforms of emerging cultural enterprises and to increasing the market access potential in the sphere of arts.

Artist cooperatives
Functioning similar to the model of Worker Self-Driven Enterprises (WSDE), autonomous arts organisations organised as non-capital stock corporations, non-profit organizations, or unincorporated associations and jointly owned and democratically controlled by its members will be promoted. This type of cooperatives will offer professional and emerging artists a strong support network and a unique space in which to create, educate and exhibit.

Such cooperatives will provide professional facilities and services including studios, workshops, equipment, exhibition galleries, educational and training resources, web marketing, publishing and distributing. By design, all economic and non-economic benefits and liabilities will be shared equally among its members. Cooperative members will elect their board of directors from within the membership.

Register of Cultural Organisations
We will develop a Register of Cultural Organisations (RCO) that aims to strengthen private sector support for the arts and encourage people to contribute to the nation’s vibrant cultural life. The RCO will be administered and maintained by the Council for Arts and Culture (CAC). To be listed in the RCO, the Minister responsible needs to approve an application on the recommendations of the CAC council. To be listed in the RCO, an organisation’s primary purpose should be to promote one or more cultural activities in Sri Lanka such as: literature, visual, community, fine, performing or digital arts including television, video, films, craft, design, radio and cultural heritage etc.

Appropriate measures will be taken to build skills and capacity of the arts, culture and heritage sectors to ensure their on-going development and responsiveness. The teaching of arts, culture and heritage and the building of arts, culture and heritage infrastructure such as libraries, museums, heritage monuments and arts centers in rural and regional areas will be given priority.

Arts and Culture Conference and Exhibition
An annual Arts and Culture Conference and Exhibition aimed at promoting collaboration among private and public-sector arts players can become a key cultural event on the Asian continent. It will be tantamount to a trade-show comprising conferences, exhibitions, arts business seminars and arts products and services for sale.

Annual National Festival of Sri Lanka Arts
We will sponsor an Annual National Festival of Sri Lanka Arts (NFSLA) as a celebration representing all the cultures of the Island. It will become the largest art event on the Island. This NFSLA Festival will play not only a vital role in safeguarding traditional cultural practices by sharing and exchanging culture, but also promote tolerance, respect and dignity of each culture through a deep people-to-people connection and mutual understanding.

Cultural material
Cultural material including art works, historical artefacts such as technology and antiques and objects such as fossils and skeletal remains are an important part of our national identity. Any handling of such cultural material should be done according to the law and any one violating such legislation will be brought to justice.

Creative Industries
We will help develop creative industry initiatives that will contribute to acknowledging, respecting and interpreting our rich and diverse cultural heritage, regardless of the form of art through which it is expressed. Such initiatives will work towards developing and buttressing a tolerant society. Intellectual Property Legislation will be reviewed and amended as needed to prevent copyright violations of creative work.

Operational funding will be provided for training programs to promote research, innovation, participation and excellence in the field of creative industries. We will provide a range of scholarships both local and international to aspiring artists to advance the knowledge base and art techniques they use for producing their creative work. In addition, new art project spaces will be designed for local and international collaborative work among artists and artist run organisations.

We will arrange through programs of cultural exchanges and sister city relationships for local creative artists to gain mutual international arts experience. Teams of creative artists from other countries will be allowed to undergo similar opportunities in Sri Lanka through international exchanges. This will help build networking opportunities and foster international linkages that will help promote our artists and their work to foreign art circles.

In Sri Lanka and among the NRSL communities, countless creative art works can be found. In addition, there are many works, some of which are recorded and some of which are centuries old. The risk of the older artworks and recordings being lost due to deterioration can only be avoided through digitisation. We will initiate and support a process of digitisation of these art works so that they can be properly identified and inventoried. Digitalisation of these precious works and performances will remove traditional barriers to cultural engagement both at individual and mass level.

The ensuing digital platforms will facilitate digital engagement of more audiences between themselves, artists and artist organisations. Such engagement will be more democratic and encourage more in-depth and reflective, but constructive artistic critique. Increasing internet access speeds coupled with the numerous devices capable of supporting digital media will provide arts audiences access to arts content of their choice.

While this will be disrupting the traditional ways of delivering and consuming arts, new forms of delivery and consumption anytime, anywhere in the form of “Streaming”, “On-Demand Content” and “Access on the Go” will display an exponential takeover. The impact of digitisation on creative industries has been contradictory with revenue streams being maintained, expanded or created anew, while piracy of artworks increasing and margins for the artists decreasing. Recent trends indicate after a challenging period, revenues from digitalised creative industry services have returned to growth.

Monetisation of these services is still evolving. We will set up public media providing content free of cost while artist organisations and artists can charge for premium content sharing provisions.

Performing Arts – Theatre and Dance
The theatre in Sri Lanka is vibrant. To buttress this vibrancy, we will set up a New Play Writing Programme with the involvement of government, universities and private institutions aimed at developing a generation of new writers who could create theatre work that resonates with the challenges of the modern world. Street Theatre has become more prominent and effective since the 1980s. New talents can be developed by nurturing a Street Theatre Laboratory and Young Street Theatre Festivals etc. The programme could comprise a series of playwriting workshops, development of new plays and production of selected local and international play work etc.

Dance has become a prime means of artistic expression, with dance companies expanding and exploring new territories. Other than the traditional dance, novel forms of dance are attracting new audiences with a number of home-grown productions, particularly those aimed at the popular and the NRSL market. Like in music, theatre and the movies we will develop the proper infrastructure, encouragement and funding to realise the full creative and financial potential of dance.

Fine Arts – Screen, Music, Literature and Visual Arts
We will support the Sri Lankan screen industry by showcasing the talents and creativity of our actors, writers, producers, directors and post-production workers. Sri Lanka can be promoted as an ideal location for film, television and other screen productions. This can also be supported by developing opportunities for establishing world class technical facilities for post-production, digital and visual effects for local and foreign films.

If elected, we will offer a package of incentives to attract film, television and other screen production and to promote the local film industry. In addition, an Emerging Filmmakers Incentive will aim at nurturing emerging local filmmakers, also contributing towards employment creation. A specialised art circuit will be established with theatres in provincial capitals. Film festivals will be organised island wide including International Film Festivals to held in all provincial capitals.

Sri Lanka has a rich local musical tradition with contemporary music also making its mark. Music also plays a vital economic role, generating significant copyright revenue. The creation of music hubs with a vision to develop these into state-of-the-art high-quality local music content production centers will assist independent music creators and producers. A Music Task Force will also be appointed to deal with challenges such as business investment, royalty collection and distribution, piracy, local content quota, and to look into the possibilities of looking after musicians via social security schemes.

Sri Lanka’s rich and diverse literary heritage needs help to compete globally. We will support the work of writers from all communities and in doing so, jointly celebrate their outstanding literary achievements and their valuable contributions to the nation’s cultural and intellectual life.

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