Five members of the State Drama Advisory Council including it’s chairman – Parakrama Niriella have decided to hand in their resignation letters today (Dec.22) as a mark of protest against dramatist Douglas Siriwardana not being given a lifetime award.
Accordingly, Tharanga Dandeniya, Wasantha Vittachi, Ratna Lalani Jayakodi and Pujitha the Mel, along with Chairman Parakrama Niriella are to hand in their resignations to Professor Praneeth Abeyasundara, the Chairman of Arts Council of Sri Lanka. Copies of the resignations are also to be handed over to the Secretary of the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs.
Veteran artiste Parakrama Niriella has stated they were resigning as they are unable to function independently as members of the State Drama Advisory Council anymore.
Speaking at the 50th State Drama Festival held on Tuesday which was also attended by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Niriella publicly accused Minister Vidura Wickremanayake of overruling decisions taken by the Council.
“In a country purportedly governed by democratic principles, we, as individuals attuned to the pulse of art, proposed the recognition and presentation of awards to three local artists of international acclaim at this event. This mirrors the precedent set in the previous year when three other artists were similarly honoured,” he said.
Although dramatist Douglas Siriwardana was named by the Council for a life time award at the recently concluded State Drama Festival, Niriella claimed that the dramatist had been informed by the Cultural Affairs Department in writing that due to a policy decision made, he would be presented with the award only in the coming year.
According to Niriella, when inquired he was informed by the Ministry that the decision had been taken based on an order from Minister Vidura Wickramanayaka.
Niriella remarked that such an incident was unprecedented in Sri Lankan drama and considered it a great insult to the dramatist nominated for the award.