Theertha has been engaging in art education and training and outreach activities for the past 6 years. In the past, the focus has been on providing art practical training to art teachers to qualitatively enhance the school level art education and producing reading material on art/ culture as supplementary art texts for visual art curriculum. The training activities of Theertha have also allowed the artists to acquire additional skills to enhance their art practices as well as to communicate with the outside world. These activities have helped to build awareness of Sri Lankan visual art history within selected communities. In envisaging ‘Ape Gama’ (Our Village) Program Theertha intended to expand their outreach activities to include a more holistic approach where multi sector training involving building multicultural understanding and heritage preservation through community art, art educational & art training programs was attempted.
Sri Lanka recently concluded a 30 year armed conflict between the Tamil Tigers and the government troops, a war based on ethnic divisions and mistrusts. The consequences of such long conflict situation can be seen in chauvinistic nationalisms within ethnic groups still remaining in the popular cultural discourse. Therefore, it is important at this moment in the socio-political and cultural landscape of Sri Lanka to emphasis and re emphasis the values of multicultural heritage and diverse contemporary cultural expressions. There is a need to relook and discover the cultural diversity in one’s own contexts of living recognizing and respecting them. Theertha’s art educational initiative in the regional areas will try to incorporate devices to build multicultural understanding where art education will not be an isolated educational activity but an involvement with a whole community to change the way they think about culture, heritage and art.