Jason Micallef's appointment ‘not unilateral’ – Herrera

Jason Micallef’s controversial appointment to Valletta 2018 chairman not unilateral, Parliamentary secretary for culture Jose Herrera says.

Jason Micallef
Jason Micallef

Parliamentary secretary for culture Jose Herrera confirmed that Jason Micallef's Valletta 2018 chairman post will be full time.

The parliamentary secretary also insisted that he didn't appoint Micallef unilaterally. Micallef was last week appointed as chairman of the board that will lead Valletta as the European Capital for Culture in 2018.

The appointment came under fire from many quarters with some doubting Micallef's qualifications in the field.

Prior to his appointment, Government sources had denied rumours that a decision had been taken to appoint former One TV chairman and Labour secretary-general to the V18 post, fuelling doubts on whether Micallef's appointment had the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's blessing.

Herrera said that as 2018 approaches, the work will intensify and explained that Micallef's role will be that of chairman, not artistic director: his hold over the cultural and artistic director will be kept at arm's length.

"Our role will be mostly managerial. Art isn't something you can constrain."

Micallef's role will be the same as his predecessor David Felice's and his salary will be a standard full time salary appropriate for the kind of work he does.

"I've spoken to David Felice - he is also a personal friend of mine - and he has agreed to remain on board," Herrera said.

Micallef was on the defensive when asked about his involvement in cultural scene: "I think we should focus on this very positive initiative right now. I will discuss details related to individual events as they occur."

The two were present for the launch of  the Valletta 2018 Foundation 'Story Works - The craft of weaving great stories,' a programme intended to provide an opportunity for Maltese writers to work with senior lecturers from the University of Southern California.

The programme will offer the chosen individuals an opportunity "to consult and learn from the best, to develop ideas on a professional level and leave with a tangible product in hand - a powerful story with the potential to cross borders."  

Story Works was launched during a press conference at the iconic East Street bridge, popular filming location with several international film productions.  

Valletta 2018 Foundation Project Coordinator Karsten Xuereb said that the Valletta 2018 Foundation's primary mission is to be the catalyst to a long term, culture led regeneration that sees creative activity as the most dynamic facet of Malta's socio-economic life.  

"In this light the Foundation is proud to announce that it has managed to secure a collaboration with three world class, storytelling heavyweights from the University of Southern California to share this adventure. David Howard, Martin Daniels and Mary Kate O'Flanagan will be leading a series of workshops to be held bi-yearly over the next 5 years."  

Through 'Story Works', the Valletta 2018 Foundation intends to address a lacuna that appears to exist in the field of story telling.  Malta continues to struggle to find its voice, especially when it comes to the art of film.  This collaboration will help Maltese writers to develop their skill, while working with three of the best storytellers of our time.

"Stories have been a great boon for mankind. They have provided entertainment and instruction. They have defined groups and held them together." Jean Pierre Magro, V.18 Artistic Programme Director said.  

"Since the dawn of time, men have turned to stories for guidance. Sat around their campfires, they learnt how to be warriors, fathers, sons and good citizens through stories.  Undoubtedly, human beings are storytelling animals. People dream and fantasize, children romp and dramatize. Our hunger for meaningful patterns translates into a need for story."

"This is why the entertainment industry continues to rake in billions each year" continued Magro.  "In Exodus to the Virtual World, economist Edward Castranova argues that we have begun the greatest mass migration in history. People are moving en masse from the real to the virtual world, interacting and participating in their narratives."

These programmes are founded in the approach to screenwriting developed by Frank Daniel, a seminal teacher of film who developed what is now called The Sequence Approach. David Howard and Martin Daniels have refined and redesigned these programmes over the past decades while Mary Kate O'Flanagan added a new strand on character development. Between them, these three tutors have worked with writers from diverse cultures on five continents.

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JASON WAS SUCCESSFUL AS MANAGER. And ther has to be someone who can manage the political side of things.
One does not have to be a person embodied in culture to hold such a post, as much as one does not have to be a doctor to be a minister of health!! A person can easily be changed if he/she fails to manage his/her work well. Piano's blasphemy of City Gate and the roofless theatre is much more difficult to change and to finance!!
'Since the dawn of time, men have turned to stories for guidance. Sat around their campfires, they learnt how to be warriors, fathers, sons and good citizens through stories' Jean Pierre Magro, V.18 Artistic Programme Director Good Lord what a patriarchal perspective let's hope this is not the shape of things to come! Talk of Cultural bias and insularity!
This is a situation where practically ALL of Malta is saying Dr. Jose Herrera unilaterally appointed Jason Micallef to the post but the Parliamentary Secretary declares he ''did not appoint Micallef unilaterally" But he stops short at coming up with FACTS to prove he's telling the truth. The Hon. P.M. has not commented. People are saying Dr. Herrera wanted to ''pay back ''the PM for not appointing him Minister.... What are the TRUE FACTS, people are wondering? The PM promised to put cocky, unaccountable Cabinet members in their place...Is this a case that falls in this category?