Their hopes for 2015

As we bid goodbye to 2014 and welcome the new year, we ask a number of local personalities involved in culture and entertainment what they’re looking forward to in 2015, and what kind of developments they hope will take place in their given fields.

Kenneth Zammit Tabona

Artistic Director: Manoel Theatre, Valletta International Baroque Festival

My personal hopes for the coming year is a wish list that all emanate from the experience of being so heavily involved in the programming and the running of the Manoel Theatre; a theatre that is the oldest working national theatre in Europe; the contemporaries of which are more museums than working theatres. Last May the Manoel was voted one of the most spectacular theatres in the world by CNN.

Yes this theatre, an historical and artistic monument, is occasionally treated without the respect and TLC that it deserves. Some of the theatre’s programme needs to be offloaded to more state of the art locations; a drama theatre and an auditorium are the most urgent additions to our national list of cultural locations. It is only this which will relieve the pressure and enable the Manoel to offer programmes that are more commensurate with its venerability and its style. This of course does not depend on the theatre alone but on cooperation between the Ministry and the major cultural entities and V18, which is duty bound to leave a legacy which goes beyond 2018.

On a more realisable level it is expected that the Valletta International Baroque Festival will go from strength to strength and along with it the Valletta International Baroque Festival Ensemble which it is hoped will reach a level of excellence that will enable us to ‘export’ this ensemble to participate as Malta’s cultural representatives in renowned festivals like Chaise Dieu and Ambronay where it is already part of its E-emerging Ensembles scheme.

The theatre’s and the festival’s membership of The Association of Early Music of Europe and EFFE; Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe Association enhances the possibilities to achieve excellence by gaining and exchanging experiences.

Very significantly, 2015 will be a year of important operatic decisions where we will have to determine whether we should establish a Baroque Opera Festival in March on the same lines as the January Festival, to have a home-grown opera as we have now but using more local talent and hence producing opera more commensurate with the Manoel’s style and size or, simply buy productions from similar theatres overseas.

Again we do need a larger staff compliment and to recruit handpicked staff of a much higher level of professionalism in our team which is small and miraculously effective but also needs to gain experience in theatres like Versailles or Drottningholm which are now connected to us through the theatre’s membership of Perspectiv; the European Association of Historic Theatres.

Marisa Attard


I no longer feel that Malta is a little backwater rock, insulated and inward looking.  We are open to what is happening around us and rich with creative talent in all the arts.  Our identity is solidly European.  We are moving towards becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2018.  This should effect not just Valletta but the island as a whole. It can be an exciting journey and hopefully it will educate us all on what Culture and the Arts really mean. 

On a personal level I do hope to continue experimenting and growing in my art - maybe risking more, discovering more what I wish to express.  I have the tools to communicate strong messages - political, social and also just plain humorous.  I mustn't waste them. We all have a social responsibility to make our world a better place, to educate and pass on true values.  I hope that either through my illustrations and also through my art I am up to doing just that. 

Regarding exhibitions, nothing definite is in the pipeline for 2015. I would love to join up again with my quirky artist friends and do another Xebgha Nies exhibition.

Simone Spiteri

Actress, playwright

2014 was quite a good year and it would be great if I manage to keep the momentum going into 2015, especially in terms of my theatre and writing work. My hope for Dù Theatre is that we keep exploring interesting work which draws new audiences to our performances – particularly those who just don’t go to the theatre at all. The other thing we’re keen on is new methods of story telling which don’t necessarily have to be tied to a traditional theatre space- something we’ve tested out with Fly Flynn  in hospital environments this year and want to keep pursuing with other work and target audiences. From the point of view of my writing I hope to be able to see through a few cool projects both for theatre as well as fiction for young people. The latter is new territory for me and something I am very excited about.

On a personal level, I hope that 2015 will allow me more quality time to spend with family and friends. Rigorous theatre schedules sometimes mean kissing a social life or just time to unwind goodbye, and it’s something I find myself valuing more and more with each passing year and not something I am willing to give up as quickly as I would have when I was younger. I also hope to be able to find time to read more, spend less time online, travel to more new places and successfully manage to include some sort of fitness routine into the mix, I’m still trying to get that one right. All in all I suppose my hopes are those shared by most people and don’t really change from year to year: if it strikes a balance between people I love, work that challenges me, love, laughter, peace of mind, travelling and good health... then I’m happy.

Toni Sant

Artistic Director, St James Cavalier

My personal expectations for 2015 revolve mainly around the historical book I’m writing about Rediffusion in Malta. In some ways this is a history of broadcasting in Malta until the deregulation of the broadcasting sector, but it’s also an essential part of Maltese historiography, particularly because there is no written account of broadcasting in Malta in the English language. So as far as most people in the world are concerned there isn’t a go-to place for even the most basic information about broadcasting history in Malta. This needs to be addressed urgently, and I think I’m doing just that with this book.

Incidentally, 11 November 2015 marks 80 years since Rediffusion started broadcasting in Malta, so I expect to be involved in some sort of activity to remember this anniversary. There are already some great plans brewing for this... but there’s nothing I’m able to confirm as yet. The local culture sector should see a noticeable step change in the preparations for Valletta 2018 in 2015, especially with Arts Council Malta serving as an umbrella organisation for all cultural initiatives funded fully or partially through public money.

From the perspective of the Centre for Creativity at St James Cavalier, we’re about to launch the first of a number of systematic calls for proposals towards our 2015/16 programme and beyond. This system in itself should give us a sustainable and more equitable way to ensure that the Centre for Creativity serves as a catalyst for the creative sectors of Malta and Gozo, while also reaching out to new audiences, especially through relatively new or emerging forms of creative expression.

We’re also particularly keen to see how the broadcasting and culture can come together in a more systematic way now that the public service obligation has been endowed appropriately not only financially but also in terms of top-level governance.