Conceptualised by The George Keyt Foundation and launched in 1993 with only 35 artists, Kala Pola has enjoyed the unbroken patronage of Sri Lanka’s premier conglomerate the John Keells Group since 1994. It has evolved as a popular annual event in the Sri Lankan Art Calendar, hosting approximately 300 painters and sculptors from various parts of the country and over 20,000 visitors both local and foreign each year.
While Kala Pola was initially inspired by the concept of open air summer art fairs in European capitals like the legendary Montmartre in Paris, the underlying rationale for its existence goes beyond the search for fascinating colour, exuberance and camaraderie.
The primary objective of Kala Pola is to provide a platform to launch and sustain the careers of talented artists and sculptors, foster the development of a clientele, facilitate the exchange of ideas among artists for collective growth in style and genres, and promote art as a potent and professional career. Over the years, Kala Pola has also become a reputed means of popularizing the appreciation and patronage of visual art by the general public in a fun-filled atmosphere of music and camaraderie.
In recent years Kala Pola has showcased approximately 300 artists per year generating over Rs.13 Million in sales (for which John Keells Foundation takes no commission). The event attracts an increasing number of visitors both local and foreign each year with recent figures estimated over 22,000. Many Kala Pola artists have gone on to carve out successful careers in the local and international arena.
The George Keyt Foundation (GKF) was established on 18th of June 1988, during the life-time of the iconic Sri Lankan artist, George Keyt, to foster visual art and artists. George Keyt very graciously decided to gift GKF with a landmark collection of fourteen paintings and six drawings which he had in his possession in England. The generous support and assistance of Sri Lanka’s largest conglomerate, John Keells Holdings PLC, and its then chairman Mr. Ken Balendra enabled GKF to have these valuable pieces of art brought back to Sri Lanka.
John Keells Foundation (JKF) is the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) entity of the John Keells Group. Since its establishment in March 2005, JKF is the prime driver of the Group’s CSR initiatives from the centre within six Focus Areas, namely – Arts & Culture, Education, Health, Environment, Livelihood Development and Disaster Relief, reflecting the diversity within the John Keells Group. All initiatives carried out by JKF are Medium- Long term strategic and sustainable projects aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the United Nations Global Compact. JKF is company limited by guarantee and is also registered under the Voluntary Social Service Organizations (Registration & Supervision) Act.
John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH) is Sri Lanka’s largest listed conglomerate in the Colombo Stock Exchange. From managing hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka and the Maldives to providing port, marine fuel and logistics services to IT solutions, manufacturing of food and beverages to running a chain of supermarkets, tea broking to stock broking, life insurance and banking to real estate, JKH has made its presence felt in virtually every major sphere of the economy. Since its modest beginnings as a produce and exchange broker in the early 1870s, JKH has been known to constantly re-invent, re-align and reposition itself in exploring new avenues of growth.
JKH is a full member of the World Economic Forum, and having issued Global Depository Receipts on the Luxemburg Stock Exchange, was the first Sri Lankan company to be listed overseas. As a Member of the Global Compact – the United Nations-sponsored international corporate citizenship initiative, JKH is also committed to sustainable development and greater social responsibility, in a multi-stakeholder context.