Multiple dismissals at V18, Arts Council months before start of events

In 2012, Valletta was chosen to be the 2018 European Capital of Culture: but just six months before the major event, a number of individuals have been dismissed or transferred

Jason Micallef, V18 Foundation chairman
Jason Micallef, V18 Foundation chairman

A number of individuals holding positions within the Malta Arts Council and the V18 Foundation have been dismissed, or transferred to other departments, according to multiple industry sources.

V18 executive director Karsten Xuereb, as well as Maren Richter – the curator of the main Visual Arts exhibition in the V18 cultural programme – have been dismissed from their roles within the foundation, six months before events are set to begin.

In 2012, Valletta was chosen to be the 2018 European Capital of Culture, with the city’s bid and initial preparations taking place under the chairmanship of architect David Felice. In 2013, Felice was replaced with current Jason Micallef who has successfully overseen preparations since his appointment. 

MaltaToday could not independently verify whether all three had been dismissed and it is not yet clear what the reason behind each of the dismissals was, however both were with the V18 team from day one and are understood to be handling among the more important parts of the project.

Both chairman Jason Micallef and Culture minister Owen Bonnici were contacted for clarification however no reply was forthcoming by the time of going to print.

When contacted, Xuereb did not offer any explanation and insisted multiple times that he “preferred not to comment”.

Meanwhile, three employees of the Malta Arts Council have also been transferred to other government departments.

This was confirmed by the council’s executive chairman, Albert Marshall, who said that the transfers reflected the needs of the council.

“Arts council Malta has been in a state of flux for the past months because it needs more resources and new competences,” he stressed.

Sources who spoke to MaltaToday said that among those transferred, were Noel D’Amato and Daniela Scarpello, with both having been transferred with one day’s notice. Attempts to contact both proved unsuccessful.

Scalpello held the post of executive officer at the council while D’Amato, a long time employee of the council, held the role of festival manager, and was a key player in the organisation of the yearly Notte Bianca event. 

When asked to confirm whether the three employees in question had only been given 24 hours’ notice, Marshall insisted that there was “nothing sinister” about the changes. 

“Had they told me they needed more time before moving I would have given it to them,” he said.

Despite Marshall’s claim that the transfers reflected the needs of the council, sources have descried D’Amato as a very hard-working individual, adding that his absence has already had a negative impact for work on Notte Bianca.

Sources have also said that given that they were not aware of any wrongdoing by the pair, they could not exclude that the transfers were politically motivated, especially since they alleged that no reasons were given for the transfers.

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