In a momentous ceremony, President Ranil Wickremesinghe officially inaugurated the Matara Festival of the Arts (MFA) today (02), a ground-breaking event spotlighting contemporary art and music both in Sri Lanka and on the global stage.
Commencing from today till February 4th, at the historic Matara Fort, this festival aims to foster economic and social revitalization through collaborative efforts between art organizations and the cultural community.
Following in the footsteps of the renowned Galle Literary Festival, the Matara Festival of the Arts promises a unique experience for both locals and international tourists, positioning the south coast as a cultural hotspot at the onset of the new year. The festival boasts a diverse array of activities, including captivating art and design exhibitions, mesmerizing musical performances, engaging workshops & discussions, vibrant community markets and an array of other cultural features.
President Wickremesinghe, who attended the art exhibition, left his icon on the festivities by drawing two brush marks and leaving a commemorative note at the site where the paintings were crafted.
The Matara Fort, the city and the traditional art elements of the Matara district, designated for conservation by UNESCO, play a crucial role in the unique contribution to the economic and social revival of the country. The festival serves as a platform for knowledge exchange with global partners, benefiting not only the local community but also fostering cultural understanding on an international level.
The Matara Freedom Hub, spearheaded by Ms. Jayanthi Samaraweera Gunawardena, Ms. Chanchala Gunawardena and Professor Jagath Weerasinghe, who are the family members of the late Mr. Mangala Samaraweera, played a pivotal role in initiating this cultural extravaganza. The core program is led by Professor Jagath Weerasinghe, an esteemed artist and archaeologist, alongside Dr. Sumudi Suraweera, a distinguished musician and an educator.
This represents an extra community art initiative developed by a collective of 12 artists, featuring prominent figures such as Pradeep Chandrasiri, Priyanthi Anusha, Free Rahman, Hema Shironi, Matara Pala Pothupitiya, Anura Krishantha and eight local artists from Matara. The project is conducted under the expert guidance of Professor Jagath Weerasinghe.
To celebrate Independence Day on February 4th, a 7-piece outdoor concert will take place at the Mahinda Wijesekera Stadium, complementing the on-going art festival. The concert will feature a diverse range of performances, including folk music by Amila Sanduruwan, Brazilian singer Paula presenting jazz to bossa nova and reggae, a captivating performance of fusion of Down-South drumming and jazz drumming by Baliphonics and numerous artists are set to join the performance art show, with notable contributions including a live performance by American rap and Carnatic singer Rolex Rasathi.
Aside from the ticketed concert, all other facets of the Matara Festival of the Arts is open to the public at no cost. President Ranil Wickremesinghe also took the opportunity to engage in friendly conversations with both local and international tourists attending the Cultural festival.
Following his participation in the Matara Festival of the Arts, President Ranil Wickremesinghe conducted an observation tour of Nilwala Gangabada Park and reviewed the Matara Development Plan.
In attendance at the event were former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera, Minister of Public Security Tiran Alas, Presidential Senior Adviser on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayaka, Southern of the Province Governor Willie Gamage, Members of Parliament Karuna Kodithuwakku, Nipuna Ranawaka, former Minister Malik Samarawickrama, United National Party ex-provincial council member Gayan Sanjeeva, Ambassador of the United States to Sri Lanka Mrs. Julie Chang and other dignitaries.