The Malta Independent 14 November 2019, Thursday

Building on past successes

Owen Bonnici Friday, 18 October 2019, 08:30 Last update: about 27 days ago

Last Monday in parliament, Minister for Finance, Edward Scicluna, presented the 2020 Budget. This budget builds on the seven previous budgets and clearly shows the vision of this Government to continue strengthening our economy. A budget that sees to the people’s needs, with measures that tackle social and environmental priorities.

This budget reflects the success of the past years in economy and finance and will continue to strengthen and broaden the basis for further successes.

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Culture features in various ways in this budget. It continues to credit this sector’s importance, not only by sustaining the financial vote for the sector, but also by building on past measures to take this sector to the next level.

In the cultural scene, one of the most debated issues is probably the site of the former Royal Theatre at Valletta’s entrance, now known as Pjazza Teatru Rjal.  During 2020, an extensive consultation will be launched on how this site can be better used so that the space can better its role in the cultural and artistic ecology of our country. This will be a wide consultation and all suggestions and views will be taken in consideration.

After consultations, the coming year will also see the launching of a new National Cultural Plan for the culture sector, which will reflect our goals in this field, mainly that of continuing to strengthen the sector, making it more accessible and also our plan for making this sector even more professional.

The ongoing restoration projects will continue throughout next year. For the past years we have invested millions in restoring countless of sites, buildings and palaces in Valletta, but also all over the island. We are regenerating, preserving and leaving these important historical sites as our generation’s legacy to future generations. The coming year, as underlined in the budget presented, restoration projects will continue with the same verve of all the past years. We are intent on preserving our country’s heritage and identity and giving these buildings and sites a new lease of life.

Last year we launched the new agency Festivals Malta, which has now not only established itself, but also made a huge impact on how national festivals are being organised and professionally put together. This budget allocates €4m to this agency to continue with its sterling work in 2020.

The coming year will again see our commitment towards helping voluntary organisations operating in the culture field, and we will also continue with our aim of internationalising our culture, providing the best experiences for our artists and also introduce more innovations in this sector.

Projects and the implementation of measures will also feature in the justice sector.  During the coming year we will continue the process by which the dual roles of the Attorney General will be separated. We never kept back from introducing measures in the justice sector, and we will continue to do do. As stated many times, this is a reformist government and during the last seven years we introduced measure and laws which have revolutionised the sector – and we will continue to do so.

The ongoing fight against organised crime will continue as we will be further strengthening the Asset Recovery Bureau, and we will also continue with a project started last year – that of modernising the justice sector through digital technology.

The coming year will be another one that will build on our successes, to further them to the benefit of all.

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This week I visited a new concert hall in Paola, which will host the Lovin Music Awards, an event which will once again celebrate the musical talent of our country.

I again praise the private sector’s efforts to invest in local talent. As a country we are working towards cultivating the right environment to promote and strengthen local talent, and such investments continue to provide the necessary drive for local creatives to further expand their career in the culture sector.

WH21, which is adjacent to the Hibs Football Ground, will serve as a venue for various functions, including music shows and conferences. For its first event, 16 local acts will be performing at the much-anticipated Lovin Music Awards concert tomorrow Saturday, including Ira Losco, No Bling Show, Red Electrick and The Travellers.

More than 12,000 nominations were received and 40,000 votes were cast by the public in the run up to the show. The winners will be determined by public vote.

Also performing at the show are: Michela, Owen Leuellen, Luke Chappell, Eddie Fresco, The New Victorians, Lapes, Fuzzhoneys, Kapitlu 13, Gaia Cauchi, Maxine and Kevin Paul.

The Lovin Music Awards are supported by Festivals Malta.

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Last week I launched the Climate Diplomacy Week 2019 which kicked off with the inauguration of a photo exhibition in the presence of the participating heads of the diplomatic representations. The photo exhibition focuses on the impact of climate on cultural heritage and is displaying a series of photos which show the impact of climate change in the countries. The European Commission Representation in Malta, with the kind assistance of Heritage Malta, is displaying photos that clearly show the impact of climate on the Mnajdra Temples.

Our heritage and history form an intrinsic part in the shaping of our identity, and this can be seen through the numerous historic monuments and sites found around our islands, depicting our country’s extensive history and its impact on us as a nation.  During the launch of the exhibition I referred to numerous restoration works which have been done and are being carried out throughout the islands to protect these historic buildings. Climate change is a global issue, which affects us all, and through this week, we aim to foster more awareness on what could be done to address the impact of climate change on cultural heritage.

The exhibition, at St James Cavalier, Valletta runs till this Sunday and forms part of the activities organised  by the European Commission Representation in Malta together with the diplomatic representations of France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom, and the Climate Action Board. 

The aim of the Climate Diplomacy Week is to foster dialogue and cooperation on climate change, showcase success stories and inspire further action.

Incidentally the budget announced on Monday has no less than 35 measures intended to better our environment and this also shows the commitment of our Government to combat Climate Change.

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