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Seven million rupee facelift for the Kandyan Art Association

The kind gesture of Minister Kadirgamar

His earlier schooling at Trinity College and practising his profession at the Kandy District Courts was not the only connection that Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar had with the hill capital in his youth. His frequent visits to the Kandyan Art Association even at that time showed his keen interest with regard to local arts and crafts produced mainly in the Central Province.

A weaver working at an authentic loom which was used centuries ago.

The large premises which was first the stables of the royal court of Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe and later converted into a garrison during the second world war was re-shaped into what it is today. The Kandyan Art Association which during its period of time has boosted a variety of artisans and craftsmen enabling them to sell their creations under its roof. Its large theatre that has a capacity to sit one thousand and five hundred people is also a 'one of its kind feature' in the Central Province and the association is proud of it.

As it grew in stature nourishing the arts and crafts during its tenure in the past, the building came into falling apart not being able to withstand the wear and tear it faced through its period of a long-standing past. Gloom set upon it as time past by and there was no sign of help though there were many appeals made to various institutes and individuals sighting the fact that the Kandyan Art Association was in fact breathing its last spell of fresh air.

Chitra Dissanayake, Manager of the Association for the past 37 years.

According to Manager of the Association for the past 37 years, Chitra Dissanayake, "all our appeals fell on deaf ears as nobody was willing to listen". It is during this time that the honourable gentleman that he is Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar decided to help donating funds from his allocation of the decentralised budget in 2001. "It was a breath of fresh air not only to us the employees here at the association but mostly to the innumerable number of craftsmen to whom this building was meant to be their 'bread and butter' in true sense of the words. They were mostly dismayed by the thought that the association would be closed if it did not receive the necessary repairs" said Dissanayake.

The Minister who was a constant visitor mainly as a buyer of products was always fascinated by what was there to be seen. That his concern was not only for the crafts he bought but also for the men and women who painstakingly produced them was very apparent the day he decided to fund this colossal project of re-vamping the second biggest heritage site of Kandy.

The Kandyan Art Association

In his vision towards lifting the wasted building back in to shape the minister included amongst his priorities a clause that the Sri Lanka Engineering Corporation should be vested with the responsibility of attending to all the rectifications of the building which according to Dissanayake made matters easier in all forms. "Funds were used wisely, restoration was done methodically and on time", she added. Today the Association has over 200 craftsmen selling their products there. The association has a purchasing committee which selects suitable products brought in by the craftsmen for re-sale. Payments for purchases are made immediately.

According to Chitra Dissanayake the association has its own Provident Fund that looks after the needs of craftsmen during crucial times. A 75% loan grant is available to craftsmen on occasions of need. Speaking of that association's success over the years Dissanayake said that it was mostly owing to the support and dedication of the staff that she worked with that contributed towards this fact largely over the years.

At present only the first phase has been concluded, completing work in the sales and office areas.

A wood carving female crafts person is a rare sight.

The restaurant and also the outside appearance have been boosted making it a pleasant site to look at. An Art Gallery which was never there in the premises at all throughout the history of the association's existence has now been made possible in the basement with ultra modern lighting.

This will enable artists to exhibit their paintings and other creative works to be shown to the public. The second phase of the project too is due to get underway shortly which will upgrade the existing theatre built in 1982 according to a concept of A. B. Damunupola.

Unfortunately the theatre was badly damaged during the bombing of the Temple of the Tooth by the LTTE in 1998. The theatre is now planned to be upgraded to an ultra modern auditorium with all modern conveniences.

Kandy which is considered the citadel for both visual and performing arts has lacked both facilities of having a proper Art Gallery and a fully fledged theatre paving the way for directors of modern theatre and contemporary artists to stage and show their creations for the benefit of the theatre-going and art loving public of Kandy.

Today the Kandyan Art Association stands with its dignity intact owing to the facelift it acquired recently. It has re-kindled the lost hope of the many craft families that sustained their livelihood owing to this institute which stands as a blessing to them and also to the long standing staff of the association who have played a major role in nurturing and promoting the work of all these craftsmen throughout.

All these people collectively believe that all this, which they feel was a miracle at a time when funds are running short for such purposes at a State level, was possible owing to the overflowing concern and generosity of one man alone who played the part of the lone saviour of resurrecting an important heritage site from total collapse. To Mr. Kadirgamar we say 'Sir! Thank You Very Much'.

The launch of 'Divaman Buduhimi' tomorrow

The launch of 'Divaman Buduhimi', the Sinhala translation of 'The Living Buddha' of Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, President of Soka Gakki International takes place at 4.00 p.m. on Tuesday July 26 at the Library Services Board Auditorium, Colombo.

'Divaman Buduhimi' has been translated and authored by Professor Chandrasiri Palliyaguru of the University of Kelaniya.

The Living Buddha is the historical tale of the Buddha's life based on historically accepted facts of His life and the Times. It is also the story about the humanbeing in Sakyamuni the Buddha who valiantly faced many a social and personal challenge that any person in the present society also would have to overcome if he/she were to achieve peace of mind. The Buddha's life as a religious teacher and a leader is depicted in a manner that the reader is inspired to draw lessons for his/her life.

The keynote address at the occasion is by Professor Asanga Tilakaratne, The Director, Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies. Dr. Daisaku Ikeda and Professor Tilakaratne Kapugamage also will address the gathering.

When it comes to wedding planning... Bridal Show is the place to start!

Sunday August 7 at 10.30 a.m. Bishop's College Auditorium Colombo 3

Bridal Extravaganza 'Through the Eyes of Love' offers you the latest fashions in a unique manner, and also draws you back to the classical period of the 1920s. The students of Technique International which includes six talented girls from the south, who were affected by the tsunami, have under the guidance of their Directress Gwendolyn Kuhatheva, put together this bridal show within a very short period of time as part of their training in the course of Hair Dressing & Beauty Culture.

Technique International's 'Woman's Own Magazine' which has helped thousands of brides-to-be plan for the most important day of their lives.

From informative and helpful articles to four colour advertiser displays, Woman's Own Magazine is the best wedding planning source for Sri Lankan brides and their families.

Piano recital by Eshantha Peiris

A piano recital 'An Evening of Brahms' by Eshantha Peiris, will be presented at the Lionel Wendt theatre tomorrow, July 26 at 7.15 pm.

A winner of the symphony orchestra of Sri Lanka's concerto competition in 2000, 19-year-old Eshantha is currently completing his final year in a Bachelor of Music degree at New York University.

He grew up studying piano with Ramya de Livera Perera and violin with Anande Dabare, and has appeared on two occasions as a piano soloist with the symphony orchestra.

This all-Brahms programme includes the notorious 'variations on a Theme by Paganini' and the youthfully passionate 'Sonata in F minor' and promises to be a treat for all lovers of western classical music.

Marjorie De Alwis School Prize Giving 2005

From left: Herbert de Alwis, Yvonne Keerthisingha, Oosha Wijesinghe, Wendy Holsinger, Marjorie De Alwis, Minister Dinesh Gunawardene, Manique Jayasekera and daughter of Minister Gunawardene.

The prize giving of Marjorie De Alwis School of Music, Speech and Drama was held on July 14 at the Bishop's College Auditorium to a packed audience. The Chief Guest was Minister Dinesh Gunawardene and Guests of Honour were Wendy Holsinger and Oosha Wijesinghe. The evening's programme commenced with a lively concert which kept the audience spell-bound.

The song But You Love Me Daddy was sung by Chrimesh Perera as Daddy. Ruban Rajaratnam as the sweet 5-year-old. What a wonderful performance. An extract from Sir Edwin Arnold's Light of Asia was recited by Senuri Dissanayake too deserves a word of praise. Woodland School by the juniors was remarkable. All the items staged were praiseworthy.

Behind this magical event were Manique Jayasekera and Sarah, daughter and grand daughter of Marjorie.

They will be the torch bearers of Marjorie who is to retire at the end of the year.

A word of gratitude has to be extended to Marjorie's devoted husband Herbert who is very supportive in all her endeavours. I wish both of them many many years of happy wedded bliss.

At the end of the delightful concert was the prize giving which was a grand finale to a memorable evening. We eagerly await for year 2006.

A big bouquet to Marjorie, Herbert, Manique, Sarah and the devoted and dedicated staff of the Marjorie De Alwis Activity School.

- Yvonne F. Keerthisingha



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