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Their hopes for Valletta 2018 and beyond: a year of the This Week interview

Looking at 2018 | Culled from a year’s worth of interviews with TEODOR RELJIC, local artists and creative practitioners reveal what they’d like to see more – or less – of in the year when our capital city becomes European Capital of Culture

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
3 January 2018, 8:25am
“There’s more to music than Eurovision and Paceville”

“There’s been some exceptional music that came out this year, from The Velts to Brodu’s album Tfejt. I certainly can’t complain on an artistic level as to what’s been released. I would love to see more of these alternative bands spending more and more time touring to build a bigger and wider audience. The music’s definitely getting better and anything that inspires the next generation of Maltese songwriters that there’s more to music than Eurovision and Paceville is a good thing.”

- Jimmy Bartolo, musician

 

“The theatrical atmosphere is quite cut-throat”

“For a number of reasons, I believe that currently the number of theatre groups is seeming to have grown at a far greater rate than that of paying audiences so the whole atmosphere has become quite cut-throat, with producers now not only ‘fighting’ over good leading actors (mostly males) but also over our limited pool of patrons! More needs to be done to attract people to the theatre – including visitors or foreigners who live in Malta – to support our productions. Decent, affordable late night transport would help enormously! Since Valletta has permanently become the capital of culture in Malta in any year (not just 2018) we need to nurture this in every possible way, not least among them by providing accessible transport to major towns and villages late at night.”

- Marylou Coppini, artistic director, MADC

Marylou Coppini, Artistic director, MADC
Marylou Coppini, Artistic director, MADC
 

“Parochialism is a real risk”

“On a national level, Malta needs to respect its deceased artists more. Education should pay respect to Maltese artists of the 20th and 21st centuries who worked in a modern idiom. I also think there should be less red tape when it comes to arts funds, and fewer hobbyists elevated to national hero standards. I would also like to see my country dedicate an entire museum to Modern Maltese artists. This I believe would help foster respect for and a stronger acknowledgement of our past – something which young budding artists seem to lack, let alone the general public. There should be more international exhibitions to show main currents in history of art, rather than exhibitions concerning individual artists. Unless this happens, as vibrant as our local scene may be, it risks remaining very parochial.”

- Jesmond Vassallo, artist

Jesmond Vassallo, artist
Jesmond Vassallo, artist
 

“Actors deserve professional contracts”

“I do wish there was a higher level of professionalism in the theatrical scene from a legal perspective. This would ensure that the actors’ pay and role in the production is backed up with a legal professional contract, which would safeguard the actor to avoid any sort of abuse regarding pay and their role in the production, so nothing is taken for granted or advantage of.”

- Tina Rizzo, actress

Tina Rizzo, actress
Tina Rizzo, actress
 

“Safety means stagnation”

“At the risk of oversimplifying a situation, I feel that we play it safe by supporting well-trodden paths of traditional performance rather than give concrete support to those who push the boundaries and expectations of our audiences. Unless this attitude changes, performers will not be able to dedicate their time and energy on creating contemporary, thought-provoking pieces and Malta’s arts scene will remain stagnant.”

- Julia Camilleri, dancer

Julia Camilleri, dancer
Julia Camilleri, dancer
 

“International contacts are key”

“[The Malta Book Festival] is our main platform for reaching out to the public and enabling fruitful interaction between authors, publishers and other stakeholders in the book industry. Over the next few years we intend to expand the possibilities of such encounters by encouraging more international participation and greater interaction. This will require more planning and more investment but, crucially, it will require more international contacts, which we procure thanks to our participation in international book fairs such as the London Book Fair. It is important that the Festival continues to grow year after year both in terms of visitor intensity and participation.”

– John Grech, Manager, Malta Book Festival

John Grech, Manager, Malta Book Festival
John Grech, Manager, Malta Book Festival
 

“Take your ego out of the equation”

“No one can deny that good improvements have been made with more opportunities being made available for the creatives, new spaces opening up, international practitioners and speakers coming over to share their experiences and to collaborate with the local art scene. Practitioners in the creative sector have also started to be more active and to make their voice heard when needed. I do have my doubts, however, on how genuine and long-term the current vibe is. On one hand I still think that locally the arts are not considered as relevant to society and thus they are not given their due importance and the professional respect they ought to receive. On the other hand I also feel that as practitioners we should be more open and less competitive. In my opinion, the removal of one’s personal ego so as to create more healthy and genuine collaborations should come as top priority.”

– Kristina Borg, artist

Kristina Borg, artist
Kristina Borg, artist
 

“It’s difficult to cast major acting roles”

“One of the greatest drawbacks is the fact that most actors in Malta have been lured into the local telenovela world and that starring in some great role like John Proctor, Maggie or even a Richard III is unimaginable as the professionalism is not there. So while I can cast a Donna Elvira or an Eurydice or a Nemorino with a Maltese opera singer I cannot do that with a major acting role. I hope that this situation will be addressed by Teatru Malta, but it’s going to take a long time.”

– Kenneth Zammit Tabona, artistic director, Manoel Theatre

Kenneth Zammit Tabona, artistic director, Manoel Theatre
Kenneth Zammit Tabona, artistic director, Manoel Theatre
“Bands don’t need rehearsal spaces – they need performance venues”

“One of the matters which I would change would be to improve actual conversation between governmental entities and the underground scene – as, evidently, we’re on two entirely different planes of reality. Case in point is the increasing expenditure on this ‘bands hub’ project. Bands don’t need any help to find a rehearsal space, but they do need well-organised areas where they can perform. It also seems that funds have been quickly given to a select few that don’t really have an idea of what they’re doing. Such practices tamper Malta’s rock/metal reputation, unfortunately.
Hopefully, a healthy conversation between the government entities and the underground scene festival/events organisers may help to bridge this discrepancy.”

– Michael Spiteri, musician

Michael Spiteri, musician
Michael Spiteri, musician
 

“Producers need to take a more business-like approach”

“The [local film sector] has been stagnant over the past decade and while many are trying hard to establish strong structures for the development of the sector, too much attention is still being placed on tourism and servicing. I think that more producers need to take a more business-like approach to the work and talented individuals need to stop working for free for commercial projects such as films and TV shows. As a nation we need to produce more projects that support creative talent, establish a healthy economy for the industry and then find the support needed to create art.”

Martin Bonnici, producer, founder of Shadeena
Martin Bonnici, producer, founder of Shadeena
– Martin Bonnici, producer, founder of Shadeena

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...
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