High-rise fuelled artistic fund sign of ‘Budget commitment’

Culture minister Owen Bonnici announced the approval by Cabinet of a new fund that will invest in Maltese artists and that will be financed by money earned by MEPA through high-rise permit fees

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
1 October 2015, 7:49am
During a wide-ranging parliamentary debate on the future of the artistic sector in Malta last Monday, Minister for Culture Owen Bonnici announced that artists may indirectly benefit from high-rise development. 

Speaking on Monday, Bonnici announced the approval by Cabinet of a new fund that will invest in Maltese artists and that will be financed by money earned by MEPA through high-rise permit fees.

The move elicited a mixed reaction from creative practitioners on social media yesterday, with some being cautiously optimistic – viewing the initiative as an additional, much-needed source of funds for artists – while others expressed concern about appropriating cultural work under the banner of high rise construction. 

Speaking to MaltaToday, Bonnici clarified that the fund is in line with a Budget commitment from last year. 

“Last year’s Budget Speech proposed the creation of an artistic fund in connection with developments falling within the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) policy,” Bonnici said, adding that with the creation of this fund, government is “implementing its commitments”. 

Bonnici explained how the Floor Area Ratio – approved in May 2014 – will serve to determine which developments will be high-rise buildings, and at the decision stage of the MEPA application, fees will be collected and transferred in favour of the Arts Council Malta. 

However, he did not answer why it was only high-rise buildings in particular – and not, for example, a more wide-ranging array of MEPA permits – that will be made use of to fuel the fund. 

“The Arts Council Malta will be responsible to administer such funds to further support the cultural sectors of the Maltese Islands,” Bonnici said, adding that fees start from a minimum of €25,000 up to a maximum of €100,000 for permits issued under the FAR policy.   

He added that MEPA will be informing architects and the applicants’ agents on these changes through a circular to be issued to architects in the coming days.   

In comments to MaltaToday, a spokesperson for the Arts Council Malta said that the fund will aim to “bring in additional funding streams for the cultural and creative sectors in Malta”, while stressing that this proposed new fund doesn’t reinvent the wheel since,“levies from development are already collected through the Urban Development Fund managed by MEPA, for instance”.

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