Freedom Hub is the final project of the late Mangala Samaraweera. Launched a month before his untimely passing from COVID19 in August 2021, the long-time liberal-democratic champion unexpectedly stepped back from parliamentary politics and aligned himself instead with youth advocates, change-maker creatives, entrepreneurs and innovative professionals. Mangala, who foretold much of Sri Lanka’s current crisis before his passing, also believed strongly that the way out and forward from Sri Lanka’s cyclical history of crises was in partnership with youth. After all, it is their futures that are most at stake in the challenges ahead.
And as a once brilliant fashion designer and design teacher at University of Kelaniya himself, Mangala’s conception of Freedom Hub as a digital and creative content and skills development and collaboration hub based on the ‘20 Values of a ‘Radical Centre’, spoke to his cognizance of how creativity and freedom of expression are vital and vibrant tools for the communication of people’s needs, struggles, and hopes. More so they are one of the fundamental modes through which people imagine and craft the opportunities and world they hope for. The Freedom Hub relaunch in Matara in 2023 will be led by a team of youth who have worked across branding and arts and the SME sector, and are supported by Mangala’s family and friends. This team has been in Matara since October, listening to the ground-level needs and aspirations based on which they have crafted a ‘Creative Enterprise’ programme - aiming at bringing together activities that foster and broaden a creative mindset and expression together with entrepreneurship skills and economically empowering projects.
The 5-month long ‘Creative Enterprise’ pilot will be broken down into a) 3-month foundational English language programme taught by a TKT Certified Instructor who is a graduate of the internationally recognized Asian University for Women and has previously taught ESL in both Maskeliya and Batticaloa; b) An inter-woven and then focused 2-month long Creative Enterprise programme brought to life by a list of visiting subject experts who will hold sessions and workshops with programme participants, and in some instances, with the general public at large. At the end of each programme cycle, we will also host a ‘Creator Market and Showcase’ where products and content created by participants during the Creative Enterprise Programme are shared with the general public too.
Speakers include a lineup of Mangala’s creative contemporaries such as esteemed handicrafts, textiles and fashion designer Senaka de Silva; internationally-renowned Sri Lankan contemporary artist and Matara native Pala Pothupitiye; award-winning filmmakers Bavaneeda Loganathan and Chinthana Dharmadasa, internationally-known Sri Lanka travel content creators and influencers Shenelle Rodrigo and Shehaan Thahir, Matara-based hospitality culture-makers Team Dots Ceylon Hotels and Smoke & Bitters, RCA graduated canvas and digital / NFT artist Bilaal Raji Saheed, wildlife and eco-tourism hotelier between Nepal and Sri Lanka Tim Edwards; talk-show host, performer, and Trans-rights and LGBTQ advocate Bhoomi Harendran, artist and arts educator Minal Naomi Wickramatunge, award-winning duo music director and composer Madhun Dissanayake and Creative Director and filmmaker Nayani Dissanayake, as well as screenings of the films of animator Irushi Tennekoon and more.
The application for The FH Creative Enterprise programme is now open at samaraweerafoundation.org/freedom-hub, till the deadline of 31st of January 2023. The programme itself will begin in late February 2023 and is for aspirational creatives and entrepreneurs and early-stage practitioners - particularly artists, graphic designers, craft and product artisans, brand builders, visual storytellers (filmmakers/commercial videographers), content creators in digital media (YouTube, TikTok, Instagram), and those interested in building creative and communication skills for stronger issues advocacy. To apply you must be between the ages of 17-35 and live in Matara or the greater south, and commit to attending multiple weekly sessions on weekday evenings and over the weekend. Select applicants will be invited to take a placement test and interview. However, Freedom Hub’s public programming will be open to all. To learn more about us & how you can join Freedom Hub programmes and public events follow us on Facebook @FreedomHubLK or email us at email@example.com.