The Malta Independent 26 May 2019, Sunday

A legacy in culture

Owen Bonnici Friday, 14 December 2018, 07:57 Last update: about 6 months ago

Tomorrow, 15 December, we will witness two cultural occasions, both of them have their own importance, both have their stories.

After its launch a few weeks back, MUŻA will open the doors to the public. Valletta will hand over the title of European City for Culture 2018 to Plovdiv in Bulgaria and Matera in Italy. Two different occasions, however both have a link to our future generations.

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In my past articles, I wrote about the importance of leaving our heritage, our cultural heritage, to be enjoyed by our children. The cultural patrimony we inherited is not ours. It belongs to the nation and to the future generations yet to come. Our policies in this important sector are simple, and they are giving results. Results that we are embracing, but also results that will be embraced by all in the coming years.

Our three main priorities as a government in this sector are to bring culture closer to people, increase professionalism in the sector, and to make culture a contributor towards economic growth. Three main policies that are the backbone of our work in this sector.

Whilst restoring our heritage sites, most of them suffering from years of neglect, and bringing them back to their pristine condition as much as possible, we are also modernising the exhibition spaces and making these spaces accessible to all.

Valletta 2018 was a catalyst in the above. Even before the magnificent opening we had back in January, we started our bold plan of restoration of the major historic buildings in our Capital, with MUŻA being the flagship project for Valletta 2018.

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Valletta 2018 will bid farewell to the European Capital of Culture year, with an official closing packed with talent - a feast of culture in the capital with performances by local talent. The public will have the opportunity to experience all that has made this year so special - art, music, dance, the sense of community and even the infrastructural wealth created.

Having said that, had it not been for the plans of leaving a legacy after this superb cultural year, Valletta 2018 would have been just a yearlong celebration of arts and just a memory in later years.

However, as my colleague Deo Debattista stated when we announced the festivities taking place this Saturday, whilst every beginning comes to an end, in this case the termination of the Valletta 2018 mandate as the European Capital of Culture is in fact the beginning of a new experience and not an end. What we learned during this cultural experience will be put into practice during the coming years.

Tomorrow I invite all to enjoy popular local music groups Tribali, The Brass House Unit and artist Ozzy Lino will be giving live performances at St George’s Square in Valletta, a performance that forms part of ‘L-Aħħar Festa’, Valletta 2018’s celebrations marking the end of a successful European Capital of Culture year.

The Big Dancers, Moveo Dance Company and the Valletta 2018 Chorus will also be performing on the main stage. Mireille Bonello and Svetlana Muscat will be hosting the show on the night.

While performances begin at 6.30pm, the official closing event kicks off at 4.00pm with a fringe programme, offering a roundup of the year with performances and installations from some of the projects in Valletta 2018’s Cultural Programme, happening in the city’s main streets. Valletta will then be officially commemorating the European Capital of Culture at St George’s Square, at 8pm.

Performances include an installation by Magna Żmien, an interactive dance performance called Ballroom by ŻfinMalta at Is-Suq tal-Belt, a performance by citizen orchestra Mewġa Mużika, a performance of Alberto Favaro’s Geography of Lives, an installation inspired by the Latitude 36 project and organised by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion called Sempre Viva, and a retrospective of the AiR programme in collaboration with Spazju Kreattiv.

The streets of Valletta will also see a multi-site interactive installation called “Memory Wall” which will see highlights from the Valletta 2018 Cultural Programme reinterpreted by various artists in diverse media. The installation will be spread across Valletta.

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Tomorrow, MUŻA will be open to the public free of charge on this special day from 10 onwards, until late.

The new national museum of art in Malta is a gift to all. A hybrid of public spaces, galleries and retail facilities, equally relevant within one interconnecting weave that defines MUŻA as a national community art museum and also serves as an art gateway to our capital city and country.

Most important of all, this building is a real-life testament of our vision and legacy, which we wish to pass on to future generations.

In designing and branding MUŻA we constantly kept in mind our culture policies: permit me to repeat them: bring culture closer to people, increase professionalism in the sector and to make culture a contributor towards economic growth.

The National Museum of Art is a blend of all these. With its innovative displays of our precious inherited art, we are bringing culture closer to people. Not only the mature art lovers, but also the young generation who needs a modern approach to culture.

MUŻA is a hybrid of public spaces, galleries and retail facilities, equally relevant within one interconnecting weave that defines MUŻA as a national community art museum. It also serves as an art gateway to our capital city and country.

We have a place in our Capital City, which truly does justice to our culture scene as a people, despite being the smallest Nation State in the European Union and also one of the smallest around the world.

Valletta 2018 has placed Malta and Valletta on the map through greater exposure and a strong yearlong cultural programme featuring major events throughout the year. MUŻA has also placed Malta and Valletta on the map as one of the major new museums in the world, which have opened during this year.

Our policies in culture are giving results.

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Culture is increasingly becoming a central point in our lives and that our strategy when it comes to promoting culture, and making it more accessible to everyone, is definitely working.

In the past years, our decision making process has led to the strengthening of our investment within this sector, both in a financial way, and through more professionalization within the sector, whilst we provided more space for artists and creatives, so that we keep on nurturing their talents both locally and internationally.

Celebrations such as Valletta 2018 and MUŻA are concrete examples of how far we have come as a country and as a nation in relation to the culture and creative sector during the past years.

As a minister responsible for this sector, as a politician, but above all as a passionate supporter of this sector, this gives me more motivation to keep on working hard to strengthen and boost this sector further.

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