Department of Cultural Affairs

In 1948 with Sri Lanka obtaining independence, the patriots who ruled the country felt that economic development should proceed alongside the cultural development. In view of integrating the country’ s social policy with its cultural policy, Sri Lanka Arts Council was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1952.

Although certain steps towards cultural development were taken by the Arts Council of Sri Lanka it was only on 12.04.1956 that the Ministry of Cultural Affairs was established as per throne speech of the new government that came into power in 1956. It was established for formulation and implementation of national cultural policy to regenerate great cultural traditions which have suffered much under the colonial rule.


Upliftment of Sri Lankan Culture


Preparation and implementation of programmes for preservation, propagation and expansion of Literary Arts and Cultural activities maintaining Sri Lankan Identity


To assist the Ministers in-charge of cultural activities for the implementation of projects pertaining to the Department of Cultural Affairs in an efficient and productive manner.

To perform activities for the enrichment and nourishment of Sri Lankan literary field by providing necessary monetary assistance to Writers and Artistes in accordance with project plans and programmes of the Department of Cultural Affairs and the publication of Dictionary, Encyclopaedia and Mahavamsa along with other books of cultural value.

Expedite action to enrich the field of Sri Lankan culture in accordance with the plans and programmes of the Department of Cultural Affairs for the propagation and preservation of Arts and Crafts.

Main Activities

  • To assist cultural artistes and writers in their creation of literary books and give necessary assistance for publications of same.
  • Compilation and printing of Sinhala/English, Sinhala/Sinhala Dictionary
  • Compilation of Sinhala Encyclopedia and Printing same.
  • Compilation of Mahavamsa and Printing same.
  • Monetary assistance to Writers.
  • Provide library facilities.
  • To organize literary festivals on District and Divisional basis.
  • Literary and creative books to be provided and propagation.
  • To organize State Literary Award Ceremony.
  • To organize literary workshop, training for school children in District Level.
  • To organize workshop for amateur writers.
  • To implement programmes for the enrichment in the field of Sri Lankan Literature.

In order to implement programmes to enrich field of culture in Sri Lanka and to accomplish he above mentioned tasks, the following programmes and projects are underway for betterment of cultural activities.

Promotion of Arts and Crafts

The following Panels are functioning under the Arts Council of Sri Lanka

  • Literary Panel
  • Drama Panel
  • Dance, Ballet and Puppetry Panel
  • Music Panel
  • Arts and Sculpture Panel

Literature and Publications

The following institutions are functioning under this Department

  • Sinhala Dictionary Office
  • Sinhala Encyclopedia Office
  • Section for the compilation of Mahavansa

Dictionary Office

  • Sinhala – English Dictionary
    With the objection of final compilation of Sinhala/English Dictionary, 27th Volume of Sinhala/English Dictionary is to be issued after printing and to enter a portion of Sinhala-English 28th Volume in a CD. Under this process 200 pages of Volumes 27 and 28 have already been computerized. Letters pertaining to 29 and 30 Volumes are being revised and 50% of investigation and revision completed. 1000 New letters were introduced for computerization pertaining to future volumes. Volumes 28, 29, 30 are prepared for printing. Shortage of letters for the other volumes to be completed and finalization of Sinhala-English Dictionary. In 2010, it is planned to launch 28th Volume of Sinhala-English Dictionary after printing and also planned to print 29th Volume after computerizing the shortages for the others.
  • Sinhala – Sinhala Revised Dictionary
    With the objective of launching 5th Volume after printing and re-revision third proof reading has be completed. With the intention of entering new words for incoming volume – 400 letters have been included after proof reading. In 2010, it is hoped to prepare 6th Volume of Sinhala-Sinhala re-revised second edition for printing and collect new works for other volumes after avid reading and re-revision.
  • Concise Sinhala – Sinhala Dictionary
    Sinhala Dictionary is to be concise and issued as two volumes. Sinhala-Sinhala Concise Dictionary, 2nd volume reading for printing after proof reading.
  • Sinhala – English – Tamil Dictionary
    With the intention and objective of launching Sinhala-Tamil-English Dictionary in all three languages, the First copy is already forwarded for printing process – while proof reading of same is underway. On the Second Volume the remaining words – to show Tamil meaning of the words – 600 letters giving meanings of same completed and letters relevant for Second volume – Letters over 1500 in all three languages have been computerized. It is planned to computerized 2nd Volume sections and taken over to a CD and investigate Tamil meanings in sections belonging to 3rd Volume in 2010.
  • Children’s Dictionary 
    With the aim of completing short comings in Children Dictionary – at this point over 3500 New Words have been written after avoid reading and placed on alphabetical order for correct reference.It is planned to write of cards after collecting of words for Children Dictionary.

Sinhala Encyclopedia Office

Manuscript of 14th Volume was prepared for printing at the end of 2009.In 2010, 12th Volume of Sinhala Encyclopedia is planned to issue from printing, take action to proof-reading of 13th volume and necessary action taken to print same. It is hoped to hand over Manuscript of 14th Volume for printing and steps are afoot to prepare the 15th Volume of manuscript

National Art Gallery

This is reserved for the public to hold Art Exhibitions. It comprises of two air-conditioned wings. Institution fee of Rs.1000 /= per day. Deposit Rs. 2,500/=.

John De Silve Memorial Theatre

This hall is utilized for the development and promotion of performing arts. This hall comprises 847 seats with other facilities along with an auditorium.

State Dance and Music Ensemble

This ensemble will participate in State Festival and represent Sri Lanka in foreign countries for cultural programmes.

Jayanthi Book Shop

This is maintained for the sale Department publications and it is situated in the premises of John de Silva Memorial Theatre. Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha, Colombo 07. High standard and academic books on different subjects can be bought at affordable and reduced prices. Volumes of Tripitaka/ Sinhala Dictionaries/ Sinhala Encyclopedia available for sale at this centre.


Department of Cultural Affairs
8th Floor, “Sethsiripaya”,
Sri Lanka Mawatha,
P.O Box 1826,
Colombo 02,
Sri Lanka.
(94)- 94 011 2872035

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