The Malta Independent 3 August 2020, Monday

Festivals will not be cancelled but presented in a different way through other platforms

Giulia Magri Tuesday, 5 May 2020, 08:39 Last update: about 4 months ago

The spread of the coronavirus has impacted all industries, including the cultural and festival sectors. Whilst mass gatherings, concerts and festivals are predicted to be among the last measures to be lifted, Festivals Malta have devised a plan to ensure that festivals are not cancelled, but presented in different manners through different platforms.

“Festivals Malta has a commitment to produce cultural events for its audiences and to create opportunities for artists to perform,” Annabelle Stivala, director of Festivals Malta told The Malta Independent.


“Festivals Malta is trying for the first time with Two Fondazzjoni Celebrazzjoniet Nazzjonali events commemorating the 75th anniversary of World War II. These productions will be aired on PBS on Saturday 9 May and will be shared later online. We are also producing four concerts which will be aired on PBS every week from the 17 May.”

She explained that the past few weeks have been the busiest for the FM team, as demands have changed quickly. Stivala explained that such virtual events can reach wider audiences and also attract sponsors who would not have otherwise been drawn to a live event. She also pointed out that the planning and logistics of such events has become much more complex, including more complex infrastructure, both physical and digital.

Stivala said COVID-19 has had a severe impact on economies and industries across the world. “Public cultural organisations and cultural agencies are pushed in finding ways to reach audiences using different platforms. In a matter of weeks, the global landscape has changed radically, and the sector now faces the need to make tough decisions quickly. It is our obligation to provide opportunities for artists, deliver a cultural offer to our audiences whilst also following health and safety measures for staff and participants.”

She said that, due to COVID-19, artists and musicians have been forced to use different platforms to communicate and find new ways of collaborating at a distance. This she explained, puts pressure on organisations, organisers and planners, who must be ready to take their events into the digital sphere while offering outstanding value to all stakeholders. “Figuring out how to monetise the digital experience is not an easy one when so much free content is available.”

When asked what the aftermath of COVID-19 will have on the cultural and festival sector, Stivala said there is a lot of uncertainty of what is to come. “We now have to work within restrictions, not have an audience to play to, there is the travel ban and we have to find new ways to engage with the audience. These are among the major issues artists are experiencing.”

She said that freelancers and self-employed working in the creative and entertainment industry are amongst those who have been worst hit by the crisis. “Artists in the performing arts face months without income, but on the other hand both artists and administrators have time to think, revise their approach, redesign their acts and think about new directions.”

Stivala said now is the time to embrace innovation, seek new ways of surviving and find ways to support the work and livelihood of artists.


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