The Sura Medura Arts Centre is the offspring of the former Chandrasevana Creation Centre that was created after the Tsunami of 2004 hit Sri Lanka.
Hikkaduwa Area Relief Fund (HARF) was set up in 2005 to give support to local residents after the tsunami destroyed much of the area and in its wake the lives of many residents. Scottish based artist/producer Neil Butler was staying with his family and friends at his hotel Sunbeach in 2004 when the tsunami hit. In the aftermath, they established a charity, the Hikkaduwa Area Relief Fund (HARF) with the Lord Provost of Glasgow Liz Cameron as patron to support the recovery from the disaster.
HARF focused on relief first, then business restart and established a boat yard to rebuild 250+ boats from the damaged local fishing fleet. The boat yard was subsequently turned into an arts centre ‘Chandrasevana Creation Centre’ to continue to support the recovery of the community. The purpose of the arts centre was to give a “welcoming community resource and to provide activities which local people can enjoy and benefit from,” says lead volunteer and mental health worker, Eddi Piper. It received funding from the Scottish Arts Council and from the IN SITU network and support from Glasgow School of Arts. In 2010, the lease on Chandrasevana finished and HARF closed down. Neil can be seen below in a promotional video introducing and describing the Chandrasevana centre.
When Chandrasevana closed, the initiative continued at new premises at Sura Medura. With the leadership of Eddie Piper, classes in art, traditional Kandi dance, English, photography, film and IT were made available to local children with artists and teachers coming from the Hikkaduwa area as well as internationally.
Sura Medura has now evolved into an International Artist Residency Centre, enabling artists from all over the world to engage with the unique environment Sri Lanka can offer. Over a hundred artists have taken part in the residency, some of whom can be followed through the Residents’ blogs. The residency continues to be managed by Neil Butler.