John Keells and George Keyt Foundation continue to empower local artists through Kala Pola Online powered by innovative banking solutions from Nation’s Trust Bank

Kala Pola went online for the second time in 2021 ahead of Christmas as a month-long event held from 28th November to 28th December. Captioned `Kala Pola Online Christmas Edition’, the event was hosted by John Keells Foundation within its digital gallery which provides exposure and sustainable market linkages for artists all throughout the year.

Kala Pola, which was conceptualized and launched as an open art fair by The George Keyt Foundation, has enjoyed a 27-year partnership with John Keells Holdings PLC as the event sponsor and manager. Kala Pola is a flagship project under John Keells Foundation’s focus area of Arts & Culture, as a sustained CSR initiative aimed at empowering the livelihoods of Sri Lankan artists while promoting appreciation and support of the arts among wider audiences within and outside Sri Lanka.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kala Pola first went online in February/March of 2021 ahead of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year festival and, following its success, in November/December as a Christmas edition. The event attracted enthusiastic participation with 273 artists showcasing 5,034 works of art, drawing 64,700 unique visitors and reporting the sale of 422 artworks and LKR 12.6 million in estimated sales revenue during the event and over 63 commissioned works, a testament to the ever-increasing interest in art transcending pandemic limitations. The virtual event included two side events, namely the `Spotlight on Artist’ series hosted by Arun Dias Bandaranaike featuring Sri Lankan artists Pala Pothupitiye, Anoli Perera and Sanjeewee Senevirathna whose art has reached global audiences, and a Children’s Christmas Workshop conducted by the Shyamala School of Art.

“We are delighted at the tremendous response received from both artists and visitors to Kala Pola Christmas Edition at a time when Sri Lankan artists continue to be challenged by the pandemic”, said John Keells’ Head of CSR, Carmeline Jayasuriya. “The John Keells Group together with our partner organizations remain committed to support and promote Sri Lankan art and artists through our various initiatives within the Group’s wider roadmap for Arts and Culture.”

Nation’s Trust Bank (NTB) – Private Banking was the banking partner of Kala Pola Online for the second consecutive time, enabling an exclusive virtual premier for its Private Banking clientele ahead of the public launch. NTB’s partnership also facilitated the inclusion of a LankaQR code payment option through FriMi, enhancing market access for registered artists with buyers.

Arts & Culture is one of the six focus areas of John Keells Foundation – the CSR entity of John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH), Sri Lanka’s largest listed conglomerate in the Colombo Stock Exchange operating over 70 companies in 7 diverse industry sectors. With a history of over 150 years, John Keells Group provides employment to over 14,000 persons and has been ranked as Sri Lanka’s ‘Most Respected Entity’ for the last 16 Years by LMD Magazine. Whilst being a full member of the World Economic Forum and a Participant of the UN Global Compact, JKH drives its CSR vision of “Empowering the Nation for Tomorrow” through John Keells Foundation and through the social entrepreneurship initiative, ‘Plasticcycle’, which is a catalyst in significantly reducing plastic pollution in Sri Lanka.

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