The Malta Independent 22 January 2019, Tuesday

V18: Selecting a Capital of Culture

Saturday, 20 January 2018, 13:00 Last update: about 2 years ago

Special criteria apply to the choice of cities for this award and these are specified by the European Union.

In October, 2011Alexiei Dingli, Valletta's mayor, submitted a bid for Malta's capital to be a Capital of Culture which was forwarded to the members of the selection panel to be considered.

This panel assesses each bid based on certain criteria which include: contribution to the long term strategy of the city, European dimension, cultural and artistic content, capacity to deliver, outreach and management.

In 2004, a study known as the Palmer Report was made for the EU Commission. It revealed how the choice of a European City of Culture was a catalyst for its cultural development and transformation, which also benefitted its socio-economic development. This effect is now given a lot of consideration in determining which cities are chosen.


Signs of regeneration show Valletta’s endeavors to enhance its cultural and environmental aspects.

Malta presented a single bid incorporating all its towns, ensuring that the benefits of winning the bid would be felt throughout the country. The Local Councils' Association agreed that all localities in Malta and Gozo would support Valletta's bid.

In January, 2012, while visiting Valletta, a selection panel, comprising 13 members, nominated by European institutions and national authorities, gave the city the go-ahead to continue its application.

The panel continued to give feedback and advice and Valletta's final bid, entitled Imagine 18, focused on the Valletta Foundation's vision for the year, should its bid be successful. It was. In May, 2013, Valletta was officially declared European Capital of Culture for 2018 by the Council of the Ministers of Culture of the European Union. Preparation for the cultural year has been supported by the European Commission and the Monitoring and Advisory Panel, as 2018 approached.

The regeneration of Valletta had been underway for some time and already a determined policy of restoring and repurposing old buildings is evident everywhere you go in the city. That many of these buildings are being transformed into select hotels, galleries and museums is a step in the right direction for a Capital of Culture. And, clearly, our already rich legacy of historical and cultural buildings and venues for exhibitions and artistic events proved Valletta to be a worthy choice for 2018.

Renovation works at Palazzo de La Salle in Valletta, now home to the Malta Society of Arts 

Valletta's nomination as European Capital of Culture 2018 includes all localities. And the Valletta Foundation will be finding ways to assist local councils with their own cultural activities, within a European dimension, to improve quality and accessibility to a wider audience.

All in all an amazing amount of planning, dialogue and effort by everyone involved, from the Valletta Foundation to the artists, performers, technicians, construction workers, security, transport, hospitality and tourism employees and all volunteers, has gone into the preparations for this year.

And while thousands of visitors, local and foreign, enjoy the many events and the unique ambience that will surround them all this will to ensure that Valletta and indeed, all of Malta and Gozo will enjoy not just one year but its whole future as a beacon of innovative creativity and culture for all.

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