Wayne Marshall complains of ‘lack of structure’ within V18

A document tabled by Parliamentary Secretary for Culture Jose Herrera reveals complaints by former V18 Artistic Director Wayne Marshall.

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
5 March 2014, 12:00am
British conductor Wayne Marshall was appointed Artistic Director of the Valletta 2018 Foundation in the summer of 2012, though his contract was not renewed after Jason Micallef took over as Chairman of the Foundation.
British conductor Wayne Marshall was appointed Artistic Director of the Valletta 2018 Foundation in the summer of 2012, though his contract was not renewed after Jason Micallef took over as Chairman of the Foundation.


As the Valletta 2018 Foundation continues to search for new artistic director and a team of artistic programme directors, MaltaToday can reveal grievances by the Foundation's former artistic director which point towards a lack of organisation within the V18 ranks.

British conductor Wayne Marshall, who was chosen as the Artistic Director for the Valletta 2018 Foundation in the summer of 2012 - though his contract was not renewed after a new team began to head V18 following the general elections - wrote that "nothing was being achieved due to the lack of structure in the foundation".

Valletta - and by extension, Malta - won the bid to become European Capital for Culture 2018 in October 2012. The Foundation was originally led by architect David Felice as Chairman, with Wayne Marshall having been chosen as Artistic Director in the summer of that year.

Marshall was to be accompanied by seven artistic programme directors: artist and lecturer Raphael Vella, actor Paul Portelli, actress Coryse Borg, actor and theatre director Marc Cabourdin, transmedia producer Jean Pierre Magro, composer Ruben Zahra and musician Mario Frendo.

After Jason Micallef was appointed as the new chairman of the Foundation, the contracts of both Wayne Marshall and the entire artistic programme director team were not renewed.

In a document tabled by Parliamentary Secretary for Culture Jose Herrera at a parliamentary committee which took place on 18 February, Marshall was quoted as saying that the lack of structure and a proper marketing strategy compromised the vision for Valletta as European Capital for Culture.

Reacting to the document being revealed on MaltaToday last Sunday, Marshall pointed out that the document he penned was for "internal" consumption only, and that he was unaware that Herrera had tabled it during a parliamentary committee meeting.

"The whole point of appointing an Artistic Director and the Artistic Programme Directors (APDs) was to oversee the cultural programme leading up to and beyond 2018. Unfortunately the administration did not allow for this to happen," Marshall wrote in the report. He added that, despite in-depth discussions he had with his team of APDs, they were "given no direction as to how to implement these ideas".

"This was very frustrating. The artistic team needed to get the go-ahead from the Foundation in order for us to do our job properly," Marshall wrote, claiming that while they tried to point out the structural problems of the organisation, the team "never received a definite way forward".

Claiming that all communication between him and the Foundation "came to a standstill" by February 2013, Marshall detailed in his report how "it became very clear that my role and the roles of the APDs was never going to be at the forefront and never allowed to be developed" - adding that "we could not fulfill any of our roles until the budget was determined".

In a comment to MaltaToday, Valletta 2018 Project Coordinator Karsten Xuereb said that the Valletta 2018 board "will decide on the appointment of an artistic director in due course, as has already been advised".

Commenting on the handover period after the artistic director and artistic programme directors' contracts were not renewed, former Valletta 2018 APD Jean Pierre Magro said that he appreciated that the new chairman would also come with a new plan as to how to move the Foundation forward.

In fact, Magro has stayed on at the Foundation on a voluntary basis to ensure that the second edition of Story Works - a series of screenwriting seminars by international writing coaches, and something of a V18 pet project for Magro - moves forward as previously planned.

"I believe that we are all adults. I understood that the new administration had its own vision and I had no problem in giving over my handover," Magro said.

"Jason Micallef explained what his vision was and also outlined that the current set-up was not functioning efficiently. I couldn't disagree as I had pointed out a number of times to the foundation that the framework within which we operated was shoddily built. This does not mean that there were no attempts to redress the shortcomings but there was still a lot of work to be done," he added.

As European Capital for Culture of 2018, Valletta - as well as the whole of Malta - will strive to become a year-long hub for culture and the arts.

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