Ape Gama: Cultural Mapping

Ape Gama program focus is to approach art education, art appreciation and audience development not as isolated projects limited to the visual arts, but as connected activities to a larger goal of transforming the collective mind frame of a community to appreciate art and cultural expressions within a more inclusive and broader socio-political and cultural experience. The idea behind the program is to let the community re –discover their own cultural heritage on their own terms (going beyond the notions of popularly conceived and socio-culturally preconditioned perceptions and ideas of their place) through which a sense of collective ownership and responsibility for preservation, promotion and appreciation of art, heritage and cultural specificities as well as diversities of a place are cultivated in an organic process.

The Ape Gama: Cultural Mapping program was initiated in 2008 as a pilot project in the area of Kamburupitiy in the Matara district under the FLICT grant. Using the art teachers and art students as a link, Theertha engaged their families, youth and other groups in the community to research and record the culturally and heritage wise important sites. The final result of this process of making the cultural map was taken in to the public domain in the form of an exhibition and cultural festival. The maps made by children were exhibited with selected narratives of people’s accounts of places as part of the exhibition. A document on the area with rediscovered knowledge were compiled as form of a brochure in Sinhala/ Tamil were distributed.