The Malta Independent 12 May 2021, Wednesday

Herrera says that ‘artist IQ isn’t business oriented’ remark which sparked anger was ‘misunderstood’

Tuesday, 27 April 2021, 14:03 Last update: about 14 days ago

Culture Minister Jose Herrera has said that his remark wherein he claimed the artists’ IQ is not business oriented, a remark which has prompted widespread anger amongst the arts community, was “distorted” and has in turn been misunderstood.

In comments to journalists, Herrera said that being an artist was a vocation and that "while creatives are excellent at raising quality of life, their IQ is not business-oriented". 

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The remark sparked widespread angry reactions especially amongst the artistic community, with the Malta Entertainment Industry Association (MEIA) saying that the remarks had insulted hundreds.

“I reiterate that the interpretation given to my answer yesterday to the journalist, has been distorted and in turn has been misunderstood”, Herrera said on Tuesday afternoon after earlier uploading a video of the comment he had given.

“The context of my response was intended towards the need to strengthen the entrepreneurial acumen of our artists and creatives”, he said before adding that it was never his intention to offend anyone.

“On the contrary I wanted to elevate the prestige of artists and creatives who put art before their financial gain”, he said.

“In this context, I acknowledge that I could have used a more appropriate terminology to avoid misinterpretation”, he added.

He continued by once again praising the initiatives such as the one he was announcing yesterday - the signing of a cooperation agreement between Arts Council Malta and Malta Enterprise – encourage growth in the cultural and creative sectors with the hope of creating more careers and sustainable enterprises.

“I believe that in recent months, the decisions and initiatives taken forward by the Ministry for National Heritage, Arts and Local Government, have had the desired effect in this period of unprecedented challenges, in aid and support for the whole sector, to mention a €1.3 million programme support scheme as a part of a €6 million direct investment in the local culture and creative sectors”, he said.

🇲🇹 Intenni li l-interpretazzjoni li ġiet mogħtija għat-tweġiba tiegħi lbieraħ lill-ġurnalist, ġiet mgħawġa u nftehmet...

Posted by José Herrera on Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The reactions to Herrera’s comments however have been less than complimentary.

The MEIA described the comments as an “insult to hundreds of people employed and self-employed in the sectors as well as the creative entrepreneurs who have built the industry through decades of hard work and investment.”

“The Minister’s statement is also confusing since it contradicts what he himself outlined in the press conference reaffirming that the economic data, clearly shows the positive contribution of the creative sectors to Malta’s economy, surpassing other sectors”, the association pointed out in a statement on Tuesday morning.

They said that while such comments may have a different intention, they can have a devastating effect and counteract all the efforts and sacrifices made by the various sectors and other ministries to respond to the current crisis.

“It is therefore of great concern that such sentiment fuels a narrative that can belittle artists at a time where they require all the support they can get”, they said before calling on Herrera to apologise for the remarks.

Following what has been reported in the media yesterday evening, MEIA expresses its disappointment at comments made by...

Posted by MEIA - Malta Entertainment Industry and Arts Association on Monday, April 26, 2021

The comment has increased calls for support for the arts, with a petition to this end being circulated amongst the creative community. 

The petition, called ‘This is a Call for the Arts’, has gathered over almost 300 signatures so far and call for a re-opening plan for live performances.

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