ALL THINGS ART AND CULTURE
The Arts Council Malta is the national agency for investment and development in all things cultural and creative. Its central task is to effectively fund, promote and support these sectors in Malta. We spoke with chairperson Albert Marshall in order to gain some insight on this eclectic and ever-evolving world
could you tell us a little bit about the arts council malta and what it stands for?
The Council manages a funding portfolio for the cultural and creative sectors through its national funding programmes. Strategy2020 is the Council’s five-year national strategy for the arts (2015 – 2020), based on five strategic focal points: internationalisation and business development as well as research, education and training, diversity and communities.
what are the council's goals and do you have any plans set in place for 2019?
Arts Council Malta’s goals are: to nurture creative potential and support its development into professional activity, to invest in artistic excellence, to connect Malta to the international artistic community, to provide more opportunities for people to engage in creativity, and to build the capacity of Public Cultural Organisations under its remit, including the national theatres, the national dance company and the contemporary creative space.
2019 will see some exciting events and developments in the cultural and creative sectors, including the Malta Pavilion at the Venice Arte Biennale in May. Setting Malta at the centre of its theme, the project – Maleth/Haven/Port – Heterotopias of Evocation – focuses on the role of the island as cultural centre of the Mediterranean Sea, both in history and in current times. The project seeks to present an exhibit which invites the audience to reflect on their own lifetime journey of self-discovery, their own search for a personal Haven/Port.
On a more strategic level, this year will also see the selection of the second set of Cultural Partnership Agreements, three-year funding and strategic partnerships which the Council makes with leading Maltese and Gozitan cultural and artistic entities, in order to achieve its strategic aims and help the sector become more sustainable.
This year will also focus on the creation of a strategic framework for the Public Cultural Organisations which fall under the Council’s remit. Work will also begin on the next Strategy Plan for 2021- 2025, the Council’s plan for leading Malta’s cultural sector through a particularly challenging period that will be characterised by quantum leaps in new technologies and AI.
What is your opinion on the arts and culture sector in malta currently?
The cultural and creative sectors have just emerged from Valletta as the European Capital of Culture, a phenomenon which has generated unprecedented public awareness of the cultural sector. The run-up to the ECoC over a number of years has also attracted greater drive, funds and energy, which have resulted in the creation of new entities and structures for the sector.
Perhaps one of the more positive aspects to emerge from the ECoC was the focus on community projects that mobilised civic engagement among various communities.
These projects allowed for artists to be immersed within local communities and gain a better mutual understanding. The ECoC also made room for experimentation and collaboration between artists, especially those involving international and Malta-based artists.
Some of the projects also succeeded in engaging people with diverse backgrounds or intergenerational participants. Projects such as MUZA, MICAS and the Valletta Design Cluster also received important impetus from the ECoC project.
All of these will remain – even now that the ECoC is over. Arts Council Malta’s role is to keep investing in the cultural and creative sectors to fulfil its vision of placing the arts and creativity at the heart of Malta’s future.
what's on the agenda for the future of arts and culture on a local level?
During the past five years there has been a vibrant cultural and artistic renaissance in Malta and Gozo: a corollary to a thriving economy is the government’s solid investment in culture and the arts. As the prime mover of the disbursement of public funding to artists and cultural projects, Arts Council Malta’s coffers have been replenished annually, thus ensuring sustainability for the cultural and artistic ecology.
Professionalisation and internationalisation of the Maltese Cultural sector are also on the agenda of the implementation of Art Council’s strategic remit. Only a slump on the economy front can slow down the current momentum in the growth rate of the sector. No economic boom lasts forever and we all need to act proactively to ensure that there is a cultural life beyond the aridity in inflicted on creative growth by the grim reapers, who will descend upon us in the guise of economic rationalists.