Since the civil war in Sri Lanka ended, there have been initiated a number of peace-building measures from both government and the grassroots level. A wide variety of programs have been put in place, and the wider international community participates actively in this work. The Norwegian Embassy in Colombo finances the work of Kulturtanken in Sri Lanka, in which the primary goal is to reduce the social and cultural differences between communities by increasing access to music as a common frame of reference.  This music collaboration was first initiated in 2009.

Evaluation shows that the music program has contributed to positive attitudes and mutual understanding between people and made a contribution to the process of reconciliation on the island. An external evaluation of the program was completed in October 2014, and led to a new music collaboration between Sri Lanka and Norway for the period 2015-2017.

Today's music collaboration:
The overall goal of the music program for the period 2015-2017, is to strengthen the process of reconciliation in the communities in Sri Lanka across ethnic and religious boundaries through music activities. The project has a rights-based approach and activities are designed to meet the needs of the local music sector. This ensures relevance to the various target groups, and potential for increased sustainability for cultural structures.

We work for the following objectives:

• Reduced social divisions between the Sri Lankan communities across ethnic and religious boundaries through increased access to music activities

• Improved confidence and competence among musicians and music-related professionals from all ethnic and religious groups through the use of inclusive music activities

• Increased awareness, understanding and respect for Sri Lankan traditions across ethnic and religious boundaries between local, regional and international audiences

• Strengthened capacity of the Sevalanka Foundation and increased professionalism in organizing and promoting musical events

International research expertise:

• Measuring effects and results in a reconciliation process requires special expertise, and we have had the pleasure to include a research project to improve our own knowledge base in this work. Gillian Howell, Australian Government Endeavour Research Fellow has experience from similar work.She has prepared the following report with suggestions for development of "Music, Development, and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka»


Sevalanka Foundation is our main partner in Sri Lanka. Sevalanka is an NGO with local offices spread across the country. Sevalanka works in a variety of fields,including buildinga common platform for peace efforts in local communities with young people, community organizations and religious / community leaders.

Participants in the project are; the Folk Music Library, the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka (SOSL), the Oriental Chamber Orchestra (OCO), the University of Peradeniya in Kandy, Swamy Vipulananda Institute at Eastern University in Batticaloa, University of Jaffna, international experts, scientists and institutions in art and reconciliation.

The program:
In 2017 the program will focus on local folk traditions in a reconciliation perspective. About. 90 youths have been selected to participate in a developmental project in which traditional music and dance are taught by masters in their respective fields. Valuable cultural traditions of Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims, descendants of Portuguese, Africans and Indians are in focus. Music based on tradition is safeguarded, developed, and given performance venues through local and regional festivals, visits to schools, on YouTube and on national radio. Universities, musicians, scientists, and manufacturers all contribute to createsustainable development.


Kjell Thoeby