Arts Practices for Inclusion in Sri Lanka

Our Intent for work in Sri Lanka

The economic crises in Sri Lanka have had a far-reaching impact not only on the present but also the future of the economy. A news report in the Hindu estimates that Sri Lanka needs at least $4 billion to tide over its mounting economic woes, and reports talks with international institutions such as the World Bank as well as countries like China and Japan for financial assistance have been going on. Apart from the financial drain, inflation and other indicators of devastating socioeconomic effects, reports on the human toll of the crises are alarming. A recent article in the Lancet mentions that “establishing a stronger social protection system to help cope with escalating out-of-pocket expenses of households, impacts on productivity, and reduced earning capacity must be done” and that “improving efficiency by reorganizing service delivery (eg, strengthening primary health-care services and an appropriate referral system) must be done.”

API Travels to Sri Lanka

We launched the Arts Practices for Inclusion programme in East Sri Lanka on 24th July 2023, through a training programme with 20 participants from 18 grassroots organizations. These participants went through a training to understand the role of arts practices in working with special needs and vulnerable groups. Together, these 20 participants will reach over 5200 beneficiaries using their learnings from the training.

The API programme launched in East Sri Lanka invited participants to look at community health in a holistic way. By communicating with stakeholders, facilitating communication within the community, building dialogue and building bridges between people and communities, the training programme welcomed social workers, support workers, community workers, mental health professionals and other social sector staff to promote these important areas of intervention. The group had organisations already facilitating such support measures to children, youth and communities across Sri Lanka. Together we looked at the arsenal of art in community practices as a universal language of care and coming together to create spaces where there are opportunities for participation for all.

Contact Sessions in Bengaluru

The API Sri Lanka participants in were in Bengaluru in December 2023 for their contact sessions that took off with a focus on self-care and exploring community arts. Participants explored self-care and emotional intelligence through movement, Cheraw community dance, visual art, and theater games. The focus on self-care resonated deeply, with the group recognizing the therapeutic value of movement and the importance of mindfulness in daily activities. The takeaways from the programme were that the group was able to envision using these artistic tools with a diverse range of beneficiaries, from special needs individuals to marginalized women and youth groups. The session’s impact extended to imagining using the arts practices for facilitating dialogue, easing ethnic tensions, promoting creative expression, emotional release, and fostering team building.

Previous Work in Sri Lanka

As a first step to talk to organisations and open this dialogue about Arts Practices for Inclusion (API), we hosted webinars for particular organizations to explore synergies. In these free webinars, we showcased API’s highlights and how organisations in Sri Lanka can benefit from the same, along with the API Introductory Course offering.

The webinars were offered for the Eastern Self-Reliant Community Awakening Organisation (ESCO), EMACE Foundation, and Peace and Community Action.

If you are an organization interested in collaborating with us, write to us at

Our Previous Work in India and Nepal with the API Introductory Courses