The Malta Independent 14 November 2018, Wednesday

Culture: active role

Owen Bonnici Friday, 7 September 2018, 08:34 Last update: about 3 months ago

During the last couple of years, Maltese society has experienced quite a number of transformations.

Arguably we are living in the best period of our life, and not because of any political rhetoric of sorts, but because we can all contribute in shaping our future by means of the decisions we take today. Our present is exciting, full of challenges and possibilities. All of which we can turn to our advantage and that of country for a better tomorrow. 

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This is also applicable for the culture sector. The European Capital of Culture, the on-going investment in our heritage, the development of new Public Cultural Organisations and the increase in funding opportunities have all left a defining mark on our community, not only with does directly involved in the ever-growing culture scene but also with the community at large, especially the younger generations.

The indelible outcome of this revival is the need to continuously nurture contemporary art and culture by provide the right environment for it to flourish.

 The first Public Cultural Organisation which comes to mind in this field is Valletta 2018 – the  program which the team has managed to provide to the general audience has been amazing and diverse.  The number of events which have been portrayed to the general public is incredible and it pitches to different audiences and this summer was jam-packed with top-notch cultural events.  These last two weeks was no exception – suffice me to mention "Ahna Refugjati" which was unique in the sense that it was a modern opera in the Maltese language.  I would like to, once again, all the team at Valletta 2018 for the total dedication to the cultural cause.

Another key player in preparing and continuously strengthening the foundations for this strategy is the Arts Council Malta; which through the conception of organisations like Teatru Malta, Żfin Malta and Festivals Malta has managed to develop engaging programmes which do not only give artists a platform where to nurture and expose their art but also managed to develop strong audiences, who can now experience contemporary culture within our shores. 

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to experience the premiere of an adaptation of Francis Ebejer’s Boulevard at the recently climatized Teatru Manoel. This co-production between Teatru Malta, Zfin Malta and Teatru Manoel is marking the 25th anniversary since Ebejer’s demise, a contemporary who has contributed a great deal to our culture having produced more than 50 plays for stage, television and radio. Boulevard had originally premiered at Teatru Manoel in 1964, and this adaptation brings us back to the same theatre, a fitting tribute. 

Ebejer is often described as a visionary for his time and Boulevard is one of his milestone works; a production in which restlessness is mirrored in its characters who keep waiting for something that in the end, never arrives. The cast and dancers have done their utmost to remain faithful towards Ebejer’s vision in Boulevard. This production was possible thanks to a strong collaboration between Teatru Malta, Teatru Manoel and Żfin Malta, who we have managed to give an outstanding tribute to a titan of Maltese literature. An author who has contributed greatly in shaping our literary culture.

 Collaborations have become an intrinsic part in the creation of high quality productions. Through such collaborations we are able to execute productions by focusing on the strengths of each organisation involved; in turn leading to the development of high quality work.

 Our objective is to ensure the availability of key strategic elements which contribute to the creation of a strong cultural environment where everyone has the possibility to express their talents and create high quality work. A notable achievement of this administration the repealing of law which sought to censor artistic expression infringing on the right of freedom of artistic expression. The law which 8 years ago banned the production of the play Stitching which will be staged next week.

Festivals Malta is also contributing towards contemporary culture with the inclusion of the Opera “Il-Qtates ta’ max-Xatt”, written by Clare Azzopardi as part of the Three Palaces Festival. This production is being organised in collaboration with Teatru Malta, and is dedicated specifically to children. This production underlines our commitment in introducing younger audiences to a variety of artistic genres and will eventually form part of the Culture Pass programme, ensuring that a large number of students get to experience their first opera; an opera aimed specifically for them.  

Other key contributors to our contemporary culture are the spaces dedicated to contemporary art like the MICAS - Malta’s first ever-contemporary art space, dedicated exclusively to contemporary art, which aims to positively energise Malta’s cultural ecology. It aims to play a pivotal role in Malta’s cultural development as an active player on the world stage, connecting communities and audiences whilst also promoting internationalism and cultural diplomacy. Through such spaces, we are expanding opportunities provided in the culture sector, a sector which is growing steadily and is performing to high expectation.

Another platform which has achieved significant growth and international recognition is The Valletta International Visual Arts Festival organised by Spazju Kreattiv, exhibiting the work of Maltese and international contemporary visual artists. 

Such achievements are living testament to our cultural potential and it is our duty to continue strengthening their base by providing more opportunities for the development and strengthening of our indigenous culture sector.

 

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