Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka and the Netherlands 
Sri Lanka and the Netherlands share a colonial history that began in 1658, when Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) fell from Portuguese into Dutch hands, and ended in 1796 when the VOC had to surrender control to the British. During the almost 150 years of Dutch presence in Sri Lanka, the Dutch left numerous examples of material and immaterial heritage: Roman-Dutch law, words, architecture, sunken ships, waterways and so forth.

The Netherlands is increasingly subjecting its colonial past to a critical examination. Sri Lankan society today strongly reflects an historical awareness. Art and culture have strong roots in the past and can connect in inspirational ways.

From traditional to contemporary movements
Traditional Sri Lankan music, dance and theatre have their roots in several ethnic and religious traditions and customs, which were influenced by Europeans during colonial times. These traditional expressions have evolved in contemporary forms of art. Contemporary literature and theatre are often strongly politically motivated.

More recently, fashion design has also gained ground in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan art and culture sector, especially contemporary art, does not receive a lot of (financial) government support. However, there are encouraging new (private) initiatives such as the foundation of the Academy of Design and the Contemporary and Modern Art Museum, both in Colombo. Also, the Dutch embassy in Colombo is available to support the local art and culture community in their projects and initiatives and to connect them with suitable (Dutch) partners. Read more… 

Information & advice
Would you like to receive more information regarding opportunities for cultural exchange with Sri Lanka? Feel free to contact our Focal Countries Desk with your questions. We can inform you about the latest developments in the country, relevant contacts and cultural venues.


Josine Backus
Advisor - Focal Countries | Brazil
j.backus [at]

Minke van Schaik, DutchCulture
Minke van Schaik
Advisor - Focal Countries
m.vanschaik [at]

Sri Lanka at a glance

5 registered activities in 2021
featuring 4 artists

Number of activities
12 months (2021)

Activities by
discipline in 2021


Frequently asked questions

Where can I find funding within the Netherlands?

In the Netherlands, there are various funding opportunities available for artists, cultural practitioners and organisations with international ambitions. You can find a first overview on our Funding Support page. For a more extensive overview, see our Cultural Mobility Funding Guide.  


International Heritage Cooperation is part of the Netherlands’ international cultural policy. The embassies of the Netherlands in the partner countries have a budget for supporting local cultural heritage projects. DutchCulture manages a Matching Fund. Dutch legal entities (companies and registered freelancers) are able to apply for partial funding for an international heritage cooperation project.  

Where can I find funding within Sri Lanka?

More info will follow soon

What rules and regulations do I have to consider (visa, social security, taxation)?

More info will follow soon

How can I promote my work in Sri Lanka?  

It is a good idea to engage local publicists, that have an understanding of your art discipline, audience and region. The cultural department of the Dutch Embassy in Colombo can help you find network or decide to promote your work through their channels.

Lastly, don't forget to create a My DC account where you can add your activities to our Cultural Database. This way you will be included in our database and become part of our network.

How can I find a residency, a venue at which to perform or an exhibition space?

Browse through the DutchCulture Database and figure out which artists from the Netherlands have worked at which venues, and start your research this way. Go to the search icon on the upperleft corner of the website, and search by discipline, country or city.

For residencies, the organisation Transartists, which is also part of DutchCulture, is a great research tool. In order to successfully build an international career, and in order to find sustainable partners in a country, it always wise to spend more than a few days somewhere. Residencies, ranging from a couple of weeks until several months, can help you to achieve that.  

What to take into account if I want to invite a Sri Lankan artist or cultural worker to the Netherlands?  

More info will follow soon

How can I keep up to date with any news concerning cultural work in Sri Lanka?

The embassy of the Netherlands in Sri Lanka is active on Facebook. Follow them stay up-to-date about the latest news, new opportunities, and events.

Are there specific things to keep in mind when it comes to safety in Sri Lanka?

For the most recent travel advice to Sri Lanka, please see the website of the Dutch government (in Dutch).