Catherine Tabone is V18’s new executive director

Former executive director Karsten Xuereb will be taking up a new role within the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage whilst Margerita Pulé has been offered a role within another cultural entity

Catherine Tabone is the V18 Foundation's new executive director
Catherine Tabone is the V18 Foundation's new executive director

Catherine Tabone has been appointed as the V18 Foundation’s new executive director, replacing Karsten Xuereb with immediate effect.

Xuereb will be taking up a new post at the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage whilst Margerita Pulé, formerly programme coordinator, has been offered a role in an unnamed government entity related to the cultural sector. Pulé will be replaced by Joanna Attard Mallia, who used to be Pulé’s assistant.

The appointments follow a week of rumours targeting the V18 Foundation and the changes that took place just six months before the start of the events. The rumours and decisions taken prompted a reaction by the European Commission’s panel monitoring Valletta 2018, which has written to the government requesting clarification on the high-profile changes.

The committee had expressed concern over the “unexpected yet critical changes in the team and structure of Valletta 2018”.

“The sudden departures of the executive director [Karsten Xuereb] and an important part of the artistic team… are very risky steps at this stage,” panel chairman Ulrich Fuchs wrote, in a letter seen by The Times of Malta.

“It seems decisions that led to these changes have been taken without the usual legal requirements, due transparency and communication, notably among all members of the Board of the Foundation,” the panel said.

“Such profound structural changes in Valletta 2018 team only a few months before the opening compromises seriously the prestige and success of the European Capitals of Culture initiative in 2018 in Malta.”

In a statement issued through the Department of Information, the Ministry for Culture said Tabone had graduated from the University of Malta and the University of Cambridge, with specializstion in cultural history.

For the past 13 years, Tabone held various managerial positions in the public administration, as well as curator of the Inquisitor’s Palace in Birgu.

In 2013, she was appointed as cultural director and was also responsible of discussions held related to the cultural sector and audio-visual during Malta’s Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Tabone was also responsible for leading the ratification process of the UNESCO convention on safeguarding intangible heritage. She also handled the Vatican Nativity, organised in collaboration between the government, the Curia and the Holy See.

The Culture Ministry insisted that, contrary to reports, the Foundation did not sack any persons, nor did it fire Maren Richter – the curator of the main Visual Arts exhibition in the V18 cultural programme.

It also said that V18 Foundation chairman Jason Micallef kept the board of governors abreast during the whole process, and decisions were agreed to unanimously.

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