‘Artfully arranged plants don’t have to follow social distancing rules!’

The Skinny | No. 33 | The Valletta Green Festival 2020

It’s not exactly a Photoshop job or a meme, is it? This is a coordinated effort that costs money...
It’s not exactly a Photoshop job or a meme, is it? This is a coordinated effort that costs money...

What are we skinning? The Valletta Green Festival 2020, streaming online via live cam from May.

Why are we skinning it? Because it’s a live-streamed version of a flower festival whose superficially decorative nature is all but lost as social distancing continues to be our modus operandi for the time being.

Okay, back up – what’s this about, exactly? Originally a recurring feature of the work done by the Valletta 2018 Foundation ahead of and during our capital city taking up the European Capital of Culture title in that year, it has survived as a cornerstone springtime project for the newly-mutated version of the V18 foundation: the Valletta Cultural Agency.

Ah, this is the ‘flower and plant display at St George’s Square’ thing, right? Yes, that’s the one. Impossible to miss yet equally impossible to forget once all the plants are packed up and sent off to wherever they end up.

Okay, it’s all a bit of a silly stunt, but surely a dash of colour over the deserted webcam footage of St George’s Square can’t hurt? It’s not exactly a Photoshop job or a meme, is it? This is a coordinated effort that costs money.

Yeah but still, can’t we just let it be put up so that people can enjoy it? They’re going to do that anyway, so if you’re fine with that, knock yourself out. But it does feel like a move made in bad taste by a public cultural body during this time.

Bad taste? Why so? Think about the performing arts. They’re at a complete standstill. And you stream a flower show online, for what? Looking at footage of previous editions would do just as well.

But… again. A little colour can go a long way, if you’re in the mood for it. But what would go an even longer way would be an inspired, creative, coordinated effort from the Valletta Cultural Agency to help out artists who have lost their audiences and income streams.

What kind of thing would you suggest? Take a leaf out of the pages of virtually any other cultural entity -- even local ones. Then dig further and wider. Some ideas are bound to crop up. The VCA certainly has the means, now all they need is some legitimately fresh ideas.

Do say: “While there’s something pleasantly quaint about live-streaming a flower show from St George’s Square, it is also a little bit jarring considering all that’s happening, and one expects a more interactive and dynamically integrated approach from a cultural body, that should be putting all hands on deck to helping local artists instead of indulging in digitally-streamed variants of generic, repetitive events.”

Don’t say: “Artfully arranged plants don’t have to follow social distancing rules and can be placed snugly next to each other and left to bask in the sun at St George’s Square. I never imagined I’d be jealous of the plant world, but it appears that day has finally come.”

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