Lockdown Festival Malta awarded European Parliament’s Citizen’s Prize 2020

Maltese citizens choose an initiative supporting struggling freelance artists hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in the first time the award’s nominations were opened to the general public

Zoe Camilleri collects the award: ‘We just decided we needed to do something’
Zoe Camilleri collects the award: ‘We just decided we needed to do something’

In the first time that the European Parliament’s Citizen’s Prize was open to nominations from the

public – as opposed to national MEPs as had been the practice in previous years – an initiative that truly aimed, and succeeded, in bringing the public together has won the Malta title for 2020.

An initiative aimed at supporting struggling freelance artists to face the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic – Lockdown Festival Malta – has been awarded Malta’s national prize.

Streamed through its Facebook page between 20 and 22 March last year, the festival reached over 60,000 viewers, attracted thousands of engagements and hundreds of shares. The festival connected 17 acts - local and international alike – who performed live from their own indoor spaces. Viewers shared the performances and donated to the artists.

The Head of the European Parliament Office in Malta, Mario Sammut, awarded Zoe Camilleri and Keith Bonnici on behalf of the organisers, who also included Niels Plotard and Vegard Flatoey.

According to Dr Sammut, “The Lockdown Festival Malta exemplifies perfectly the spirit of community within and across borders in the EU which the Citizen’s Prize aims to recognise.”

The annual prize goes to people or organisations that encourage: mutual understanding and closer integration between people in the EU; cross-border cooperation that builds a stronger European spirit and; EU values and fundamental rights

‘We just decided we needed to do something’

According to co-organiser Zoe Camilleri, “We were lightning fast on this - we didn’t even stop to think. In the first days of lockdown, we were feeling the pressure of suddenly finding ourselves without a job, and in all that surreal chaos, we just decided we needed to do something!”

“It was organic, the way it came together,” said Keith Bonnici. “We’re all professional artists, and we each worked to our strengths. Doing this online festival gave us this feeling of community on a global scale, and it gave us a sense of purpose - like Abel Hernandez who turned his bedroom in  Spain into a set for a contemporary dance piece performed from his home to ours,” Keith added.

“The recognition of this Prize means a lot to us because it recognizes the value of art and culture to our society,” Camilleri added, “artists in Spain, Germany, the US, and here in Malta, were really happy to get on board.”

First time nominations were open to the public

2020 was the first time that the ECP was opened to nominations from the general public. The prize - a symbolic plaque or medal of honour - has been awarded by the European Parliament in the different Member States since 2008.

Past Malta winners include the ALS Foundation, l-Għaqda Każini tal-Banda, the Richmond Foundation, Dar il-Kaptan, Hospice Malta, Puttinu Cares Children's Cancer Support Group, Caritas Malta, and Chris Delicata, President and Regional Chair of the International Diabetes Federation Europe Region (IDF Europe).

2021 nominations open

The call for nominations, which will once again form the general public, are now open and the deadline for applications is 29 April 2021 before midnight.

Individuals, groups, associations or organisations can apply for the European Citizen’s Prize or nominate a project. MEPs, who were previously responsible for nominations, can also do likewise.

For information on the rules and on how to apply, click this link

For more information, write to [email protected]

Ewropej Funded by the European Union

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The action was co-financed by the European Union in the frame of the European Parliament's grant programme in the field of communication. The European Parliament was not involved in its preparation and is, in no case, responsible for or bound by the information or opinions expressed in the context of this action. In accordance with applicable law, the authors, interviewed people, publishers or programme broadcasters are solely responsible. The European Parliament can also not be held liable for direct or indirect damage that may result from the implementation of the action.

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