€1.2 million distributed by Malta Arts Council in 2015

Arts Council launches strategy to further strengthen investment in local culture sector for the next five years

Culture Minister Owen Bonnici and former European Commissioner for Culture Androulla Vassiliou (Photo: Ray Attard)
Culture Minister Owen Bonnici and former European Commissioner for Culture Androulla Vassiliou (Photo: Ray Attard)

The Malta Arts Council will have distributed over €1.2 million amongst 156 creative entities or individuals by the end of December 2015, Culture minister Owen Bonnici said in his opening speech for the Arts Council Strategy earlier today.

Bonnici explained that the funds in question were divided amongst six specialized funds including the Arts Fund, the Cultural Export Fund, Kreattiv, President’s Prize for Creativity, KulturaTV and Creative Communities, which all serve different purposes while aiming to strengthen the culture scene.

Bonnici also explained that the conference marked the council’s first national conference and that it sought to highlight the strategic focus of the Council for the next five years.

“The conference will reflect upon the Council’s plans for the cultural and creative sectors until 2020,” Bonnici said, adding that the conference, being held today at the Mediterranean Conference Centre.

The conference will also be addressed by former European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, whose contribution will be valuable given her expertise and her nationality as a Cypriot citizen, “given the island’s similarity to our own.”

Other international speakers will include Paul Dujardin, Director General of BOZAR in Brussels; Shelagh Wright, Associate at DEMOS; Sebastien Cavalier, Director of Culture, Marseille, France; Airan Berg, Artistic Director, Linz09; Ragnar Siil, Managing Partner at Creativity Lab and Cristina Farinha- Executive Producer at ADDICT. 

Key stakeholders from Malta’s cultural and creative sectors, creative practitioners and artists will also form part of the various discussion panels, including the participation of all the artistic directors of Malta’s Public Cultural Organisations. 

“Discussions will highlight topics such as Sustaining legacy – Post ECOC and the future of cities and communities; Public Cultural Organisations: building stronger partnerships for Malta’s cultural and creative sectors,” he said, adding that one specific discussion will focus on artistic excellence and the quality mantra while another will focus on creative potential and economic development. 

Bonnici further said that he hoped the conference would give rise to new discussions and debates as well as new initiatives, through networking opportunities between those involved.

“The enactment of Arts Council Malta Act in May this year provided a new legal framework for the council, which in turn set in motion a consultation with over 300 people, entities and organisations to ultimately launch the 2020 Arts Council’s strategy,” he said, adding that this would effectively define a five-year work plan for the Council’s work through set actions that provide a coherent focus and channel energies into priority areas.

Bonnici said that as culture minister he has felt that more investment in the sector, more transparent and independent funding measures, providing artists with information and assistance and helping public cultural organisations to develop were essential in order to strengthen the sector and increase its recognition overseas.

“The Arts council is inviting people to dream and create; two words that will be essential to today’s discussions,” he said, stressing the need for more creativity and that the necessary tools should also be provided.

Bonnici also reminded those at the event that the governance framework had now been set and that laws to strengthen freedom of  expression, all had the same aim.

“The culture sector will also see an unprecedented €52.2 million investment under Budget 2016,” Bonnici added.

“The council is now launching a strategy to transform this investment into cultural wealth to be enjoyed by the Maltese public,” he said, adding that the next five years would be essential to the development of the local cultural scene given the Global cultural summit to be held in Malta in 2016, the cultural programme for Malta’s presidency of the EU council in 2017, and Valletta 2018.

“Success is not measured by investments, but through artists’ work and creativity,” he said.

During his speech, Bonnici also showed a video clip of Junior Eurovision winner Destivy Chukunyere, who he called “ an inspiration” to younger generations. In the clip, Destiny said that she hoped all students would get the opportunity to express their creativity and that more investment was dedicated to culture.

“If I were culture minister for a day, I would ensure that schools have a Culture Day where students could express their talents, akin to Sports Days,” she said.

The conference will be chaired by Peter Jenkinson, OBE, and Giuliana Fenech from the University of Malta. Jenkinson has worked internationally for over 20 years in the cultural sector, passionately advocating and acting for deep and lasting change across the cultural and political landscape.

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