Prepping for the ‘prep year’

What are the most significant challenges – as well as opportunities – that Maltese artists face in the coming year? TONI ATTARD, Director of Strategy at Arts Council Malta believes that 2016 will be crucial in determining the creative and experimental potential of local creatives, as we loom closer and closer to 2018

4 January 2016, 9:19am
Toni Attard
Toni Attard
by Toni Attard

2016 is a ‘prep year’ for a number of cultural projects. Official results of cultural infrastructure projects submitted for European funding for the period 2014 – 2020 will be announced in 2016. This will kick-off substantial investments and resources in the successful proposals to ensure that they are delivered on time and according to the strict regulations of the fund.

The biggest challenge for each project is to go beyond the restoration or construction of a building. New cultural infrastructure projects also need to focus on building an active community that will eventually utilise and engage with these spaces. Both MUZA and the Valletta design cluster have successfully demonstrated how this approach supports the project and its users.

2016 will also lead to the first year of the implementation of the Arts Council Malta strategy. This will require increased advocacy and communication with  artists, cultural organisations and the public. In 2016 a number of new initiatives will be implemented ranging from a revamped Malta Arts Fund to a competitive three-year funding programme for festivals and cultural organisations.

Improvements in fund evaluation processes and project pitching will also be introduced. As announced in Budget 2016, preparatory work for Malta’s participation in the 2017 Venice Biennale will be in full swing together with the launch of Teatru Malta. In 2016, Arts Council Malta will also be hosting the 7th World Culture Summit with a strategic focus on cultural leadership. This will be a unique opportunity for Malta to take centre stage on cultural policy discourse within a global context.

Another important process in 2016 will be the programming of the extensive cultural programme that will take place in Malta and other countries as part of the Maltese presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2017. 

These challenges and opportunities need to be relevant to creative practitioners who may want to leverage their artistic practice. As a prep year for culture, 2016 should be another opportunity for new work to be developed through increased experimentation, interdisciplinary collaboration and international networking.

This means that for a number of creative practitioners, 2016 may be a good time to review and create new work because in a few months they’re on the road until 2018. 

These developments call for creative practitioners and public cultural organisations to be more positive and proactive in building a collaborative, supportive and open creative environment.