V18 bid book to 'represent Maltese culture'

The Valletta Local Council has today presented its final bid to host the European Capital of Culture (EcoC) in 2018, focusing on four key areas: Generations, Routes, Cities and Islands.

Minister for Culture Mario de Marco described the V18 bid book as a
Minister for Culture Mario de Marco described the V18 bid book as a "culmination of what makes us Maltese".

The bid was prepared by the Valletta 2018 Foundation and presented to the local Managing Authority for the ECoC, namely the Ministry for Toursim, Culture and the Environment.

The bid promises, in the run up to 2018, to strive to make culture into a viable career platform, strengthen international cultural links and galvanise Valletta into being a "creative city".

The presentation of the bid is Valletta's last step before the final selection meeting on October 12 when the city will face an international panel of cultural experts who will decide whether Valletta will be awarded the title of European Capital of Culture.

Titled Imagine 18, the bid aims towards a long-term, culture-led regeneration that sees cultural and creative activity as the most dynamic facet of Valletta and Malta's socio-economic life.   This vision is inspired by the National Cultural Policy and identifies culture  as the driving force in building individual creative careers, while promoting well-being.

Valletta 2018 is an exciting opportunity to experience cultural identity afresh in new contexts that push boundaries and allow for ideas, dialogue, creativity and innovation to flow freely.

Speaking at the bid book's presentation today, Minister for Culture Mario de Marco said that the document is a "culmination of what makes us Maltese", encompassing not just the more conventional forms of art and culture like theatre, music and the visual arts but also more indigenous and communal phenomena like village feasts.

De Marco also highlighted how the bid - along with the V18 initiative in general - is arriving at an interesting time for Maltese culture, flagging up developments such as the recently made available Arts Fund, along with the relaxation of the censorship and classification laws.

"We have acknowledged that Maltese producers are mature enough to classify their own works. Satire is also an important part of this - we believe that politicians should be the first to acknowledge that they need to be made fun of," de Marco added.

David Felice, Chairman of the Valletta 2018 Foundation said Valletta has in the past months worked hard at its plans for 2018. He pointed out that this is only the beginning  of a long journey, one that will hopefully take Valletta far beyond the scope of the year itself.  

He added that Valletta's bid aims to capture the imagination of both locals and Europeans. It is inspired  by a call to imagine a future which is better than its present. Valletta also knows that ultimately any ECoC is as successful as the Cultural Programme it presents and delivers. The Cultural Programme is the heart of the bid.

With this in mind, since the presentation of the first draft of the Bid Book in January earlier this year and the written opinion of the selection panel, the Foundation has embarked on a wide process of public engagement wherein the public was invited to come forward with ideas for the Cultural Programme. 

A series of events, confernces and workshops brought together some 250 interested individuals and organisations who contributed their ideas and proposals for the Culture Programme which forms an important part of the bid book. Initiators of projectors will be invited to develop their projects further into realisation in collaboration with the Valletta 2018  artistic team.

The Outline Cultural Programme achieved its final form by Artistic Director Wayne Marshall and his team of Artistic Programme Directors, who developed the ideas sent in by various organisations and individuals. It is structured around four thematic areas: Generations, Routes, Cities and Islands.

During the presentation, two of the V18 artistic programme directors - Coryse Borg and Paul Portelli - mentioned initiatives in theatre and education as forming an important part of the projects shortlisted in the bid book. One of the most interesting projects in the pipeline, Portelli said, is a Carnival at Sea, which would stretch from Birgu to Valletta.