China gifts performing arts centre
The first International Performing Arts Centre (IPAC) which is a
donation from China worth over Rs. 3,200 million will be opened soon.
The construction work of this centre which is situated next to the
Visual and Performing Arts University of Sri Lanka at Albert Crescent,
Colombo 7 will be completed shortly.
The Sunday Observer had an interview with Culture and Arts Ministry
Secretary Wimal Rubasingha on the IPAC.
Excerpts of the interview:
Q: What is meant by 'Performing Arts'?
A: Performing Arts could be defined as the joint and live
presentation of dance, music and drama on stage.
Sri Lanka is endowed with an advanced civilisation and a culture of
over 3,000 years.
We have a written record of history in the great chorinicle
"Mahawamsa" going back 2,600 years.
Dance, music and drama have been Sri Lanka's pride for centuries.
Legend has it that Prince Wijaya, the first king of Sri Lanka heard
music when he met Kuveni who was spinning yarn.
Sri Lankans are a highly cultured people largely nourished by
Buddhism for over 2,600 years. Buddhism acknowledges the aesthetic
values of man.
Q: Why do you say that this is the first international
Performing Arts Centre in Sri Lanka.
Theatre on the 5th floor
A: A fully fledged performing Arts Centre was a long-felt need
of the Sri Lankan artistes. Although they used the BMICH Theatre, Royal
College New Arts Theatre, Elphinstone or Tower Hall they were not
perfect performing arts stages.
Q: Can you elaborate?
A: Asian countries such as Japan, China, South Korea have
performing arts theatres that have facilities such as moving stages,
dressing rooms, rooms for relaxing for artistes and car parks under one
roof. The recently refurbished. Tower Hall has only 300 seats. Other
centres cannot accommodate more than 500 persons. This was a long-felt
need for Sri Lanka.
Q: What made China to donate such a state-of-the-art theatre
to Sri Lanka?
A: China and Sri Lanka have had cordial relations throughout
history. Famous Chinese Bhikkhus Fa-Hien and Hiyun San visited Sri Lanka
in the sixth century.
Archaeological evidence bears testimony to China-Sri Lanka Social,
Cultural and Economic relations which go back thousands of years.
Although China was willing to fund a part of the construction cost of
the project at the beginning later they expressed wiliness to fund the
entire project of Rs. 3,200 million.
Construction materials were imported from China for the project.
Projet manager Vithanage secretary Cultural and Arts Ministry
Rubasingha and Chinese engineers inspect the project
The Project Manager IPAC - former Secretary of the Smallholder
Development Ministry S. Vithanage said that IPAC has all the facilities
of a modern performing art centre.
It consists of an ultra modern moving stage on the ground floor, open
arts theatre on fifth floor, 17 dressing rooms, office rooms, canteen
and parking facilities for over 300 cars.
The Municipal grounds which has an extent of 2.17 hectares was taken
over by the Cultural Ministry to set up the Centre for Performing Arts.
The centre is 29 metres high and covers 14,000 square metres, he said.
Construction work of the IPAC is handled by China's Xanjian Group.
Its Deputy Chief Engineer and the Acting Head of the Chinese Staff
Han Chunlei said that more than 100 Chinese engineers, technicians and
labourers worked up to last month.
At present there are only 37 engineers and technicians tasked with
the responsibility of completing the project on target.
Han said that the interior is expected to be completed before the end
of this month.Chinese staff will work in Sri Lanka for a couple of
months to train their Sri Lankan counterparts in the maintenance and
operations work of the centre.
Sri Lankan engineers Gamunu Silva and Nimal Silva are the engineering
consultant and architectural consultant for the project.