University of Visual and Performing Arts - then and now
The University of the Visual and Performing Arts (UVPA) is the only
university in Sri Lanka to exclusively offer special degree programs in
the visual and performing arts.
Although the UVPA is in its infantile stages as a university (since
it obtained the status of an autonomous university only in 2005) it has
nevertheless a history spanning more than a hundred years.
The university began as a small unit of the Ceylon Technical College
in 1893. Approximately five decades later, in October 1949, it shifted
to Heywood College in Horton Place. Subsequently, at different stages in
its development the university became known as the School of Art and the
Government College of Fine Arts. In 1978, the establishment of the
Institute of Aesthetic Studies, of the University of Ceylon marked yet
another milestone in its evolution. For the first time 63 students were
conferred with Bachelor of Arts degrees. The restructuring of the
University system in Sri Lanka brought about the affiliation of this
Institute to Kelaniya University in 1980. Finally, in 2005 a special
Gazette notice formally announced the establishment of Visual and
Performing Artsthe University (UVPA) with effect from 1st July, 2005.
The University of the Visual and Performing Arts was founded in order
to promote and develop the fields of visual and performing arts in Sri
Lanka. It offers higher educational qualifications of excellent standard
in the various spheres of study related to the above mentioned fields.
Up to now, the university has presented to the country exceptional
artists belonging to the fields of music, dance, drama and visual art.
The highly specialized and rigorous training given to its students along
with a comprehensive academic program help stimulate and further enhance
their artistic and intellectual capabilities. The university strives to
develop its undergraduates in such a way that they learn to be both
original and creative while also engaging in the task of safeguarding
traditional art forms.
The various courses of study are designed to prepare students for
careers as creators, performers, artists, teachers, advertisers,
designers, arts leaders and arts entrepreneurs.
The university (which has two premises situated in Horton Place and
Albert Crescent in Colombo 7 and the third one in Kohuwala) is geared to
cater to the needs of its student population. Its rapid expansion
projects are testimony to this fact. Currently, the Vice Chancellor of
the UVPA is Senior Professor Jayasena Kottagoda who is one of its very
The university consists of three faculties: Faculty of Music, Faculty
of Dance and Drama and Faculty of Visual Arts.
The total number of students registered for the 2008/2009 academic
year amounts to 1882.
The graduates of the University of the Visual and Performing Arts can
be considered as 'cultural ambassadors' to Sri Lanka since apart from
becoming excellent artists, scholars and academics they are connoisseurs
of traditional Sri Lankan art, music and dance forms. Consequently, they
can be instrumental in creating a platform for Sri Lankan art forms,
considered as part of our national heritage, in the international arena.
The writer is an Asst. Lecturer in English Language visual &
Performing Arts University