In 1948 with Sri Lanka obtaining independence, the patriots who ruled the country felt that economic development should proceed alongside the cultural development. In view of integrating the country' s social policy with its cultural policy, Sri Lanka Arts Council was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1952.
Although certain steps towards cultural development were taken by the Arts Council of Sri Lanka it was only on 12.04.1956 that the Ministry of Cultural Affairs was established as per throne speech of the new government that came into power in 1956. It was established for formulation and implementation of national cultural policy to regenerate great cultural traditions which have suffered much under the colonial rule.
The first Minister of Local Government and Cultural Affairs was Hon. Jayaweera Kuruppu who functioned from 12.04.1956 to 08.06.1959. From 1959 to 1960 Cultural Affairs and Social Services came under one Ministry A separate Ministry of Cultural Affairs was set up in 1970 . Prior to that the subject of Cultural Affairs was handled by Ministers who were in charge of several other subjects .The Ministry was again restructured on 01.04.1980.
After operating with portfolios such as information it was named The Ministry of Cultural and Religious Affairs with the addition of Religious Affairs in 1994. The Ministry thus named became a single Cultural Ministry again on 19.10.2000. The Religious Affairs that came under it was reassigned to three other ministries. On 14.09.2001 it was again renamed as Ministry of Cultural and Religious Affairs. From 2001 to 2004 it was named as The Ministry of Human Resources Development, Education and Cultural Affairs. In 2004 the Ministry was again restructured and gave new name to it as The Ministry of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage. From 2004-04-30 to 2005 -06 -16 Hon. Vijitha Herath functioned the Ministry under new name. From 2005 to 2007 the Ministry was functioned by the Hon. Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana under the new name Ministry of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage. After restructuring of the Cabinet in 2007, the Ministry was separated in to two different Ministries as Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Ministry of National Heritage. The institutions functioned under the Ministry were also separated. Presently Department of Cultural Affairs, Central Cultural Fund, Tower Hall Theatre Foundation, National Film Corporation of Sri Lanka and Public Performance Board are the institutions functioned under the Ministry of Cultural Affairs from 2007. Then again Ministry was combined together after the demise of the Hon. Anura Bandaranayaka. In the new cabinet which was restructured after the General Election in 2010 Ministry was renamed as Ministry of National Heritage and Cultural Affairs and presently functioned by Hon. Pavithra Devi Wanniarachchi. Currently 11 institutions functioned under the Ministry including Folk Art Centre. After the new cabinet of 2010 again Ministry of National Heritage and Cultural Affairs divided into two seperate ministries named as Ministry of Cultural and Art Affairs and Ministry of National Heritage. Since then ministry is fuctionning as the Ministry of Cultural and Art Affairs.
The Hon. Ministers who held the portfolio of Cultural Affairs.
|Hon. Jayaweera Kuruppu||1956-04-12 to 1959-06-08|
|Hon. P.B.G.Kalugalla||1956-06-09 to 1959-12-08|
|Hon. C.A.S.Marikkar||1956-12-09 to 1960-01-05|
|Wasala Mudali M.I.M.Kariyappar||1960-01-06 to 1960-03-20|
|Hon. B.H. Aluwihare||1960-03-23 to 1960-07-21|
|Hon. Maithripala Senanayaka||1960-07-23 to 1963- 05-28|
|Hon. D.S.Gunasekara||1964-06-11 to 1965-03-25|
|Hon. I.M.R.A. Eriyagolla||1965-03-27 to 1970-05-28|
|Hon. S.S.Kulatilaka||1970-05-31 to 1975 -09 -16|
|Hon. T.B. Thennakoon||1975-09-17 to 1977 -07 -22|
|Hon. E.L.B. Hurulle||1977-07-23 to 1988 -05 -31|
|Hon. W.J.M. Lokubandara||1988-06-16 to 1994 -08 -15|
|Hon.Lakshman Jayakody||1994-08-19 to 2000 -10 -10|
|Hon.M.C. Gopallawa||2000-10-24 to 2001 -08-20|
|Hon. Ratnasiri Wickramanayake||2001-09-14 to 2001 -09 -06|
|Hon. Dr. Karunasena Kodithuwakku||2001-11-14 to 2004 -04 -02|
|Hon. Vijitha Herath||2004-04-30 to 2005 -06 -16|
|Hon. Mahinda Yapa Abeywardane||2005-07-24 to 2010-04-25|
|Hon. Pavithra Devi Wanniarachchi||2010-04-26 to 2010-11-26|
|Hon.T.B.Ekanayaka||2010-11-26 to 2015-01-08|
|Hon. Nandimithra Ekanayake||2015-01-12 to 2015-08-17|
|Hon. S.B. Navinne||2015-09-07 to Up to date|