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The George Keyt Foundation … promoter of art and artists !

January, 21, 2016

Kala Pola 2016 on Sunday 31st January in Colombo

By Arun Dias Bandaranaike, Trustee, George Keyt Foundation

The George Keyt Foundation focuses on the artistic talent of creative people in Sri Lanka. What is special or unusual about the intention and purpose of this collective is in the effort made every year and on several occasions, to bring the public of Lanka closer to the work of painters and sculptors who otherwise might need to wage a ‘private battle’ to have their work seen and evaluated. This is achieved with little regard to realising a profit for the foundation. Instead, expending itself, and seeking the generous contributions and sponsorships obtained from corporate Lanka. For several years now, the annual ‘Kala Pola’ has had the outstanding support of John Keells Holdings PLC.

Why though might an organization, or even a corporate entity, be involved with art or artists who may be able to engage in their creative work and make a living, as would authors, singers and songwriters? The answer could be found in the fact that many artists, despite the merit they display in their craft, often have issues and challenges with maintaining their integrity within their selected realm or genre of expression.

Whereas a singer or song receives popular acclaim by being heard on radio or from performances on stage, at clubs, or even on television, the quiet expression of a painter could well travel no further than the confines of his studio. If the artist is yet unknown, the opportunity to have any of what he does, be seen by people, becomes a very expensive enterprise and therefore near impossible for one who is unsupported by an altruistic ‘patron of the arts’, or by some keen aficionados who might see his work and then review them. This modus does work, but that would be in the case of very few individual artists who have, what some people refer to, as ‘luck’.

The George Keyt Foundation and its Trustees (for indeed, it is a Trust with honorary members whose declared motive is no more than philanthropic) has seized the opportunity to serve as both promoter of art and artists and also in providing the necessary ‘platform’ for the prominent display of the work of literally hundreds of Lanka’s artists. While it is true that there are galleries and spaces in different places in metropolitan areas, including some in prominent hotels where tourists and foreign visitors have chances of spotting and selecting works of art, the occasion such as Kala Pola is a vibrant gathering place, widely advertised and well organised so as to provide the artist the chance to exhibit his creations and also engage, one on one, with the members of the public who come to see such art. This opportunity is unique, given that the artists at Kala Pola number in the hundreds and are from different areas of Sri Lanka.

The work of the artists will stand on their own merit. This, too, is important. Public acclaim, when it does transpire, is genuine, in as much as the buyers or viewers will respond honestly and frankly to what they see and they will ‘engage’ with the artists as well.

Free of charge and open to the public, Kala Pola 2016 takes place on Sunday 31 January 2016 along Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha in Colombo 07. Presented by The George Keyt Foundation in association with the John Keells Group, it opens at 8.00 am and will continue until 9 pm the same night.