The Malta Independent 30 September 2022, Friday
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Updated: PN hits out at government over Palazzo Vilhena restaurant

Wednesday, 17 August 2022, 10:59 Last update: about 2 months ago

Updated at 15:30 with a statement from Heritage Malta

The Nationalist Party has hit out at the government over a restaurant in Palazzo Vilhena.

Palazzo Vilhena in Mdina, which falls under Heritage Malta, recently began being used by the private sector through a mysterious agreement with the same agency as a restaurant, the PN said. "Everything was done is secret and nobody knows how this agreement came to be," the PN added.

"This means that Heritage Malta, which falls under the political responsibility of Minister Owen Bonnici, is using our national heritage for commercial purposes that go beyond its obligations, to promote and preserve this same heritage."

This is unacceptable for the Nationalist Party, it said.

The PN also asked the minister what he is doing about the lack of heritage Malta curators and why the government is not investing in them, "but is even trying to cast them aside."

In response, Heritage Malta said that it has a commercial arm - Heritage Malta Services Ltd - which has been operating since 2005 with the aim of commercialising any resources that may be commercialised. This, "in order to generate funds which are then injected back into the protection of our national cultural heritage. In the case of Vilhena Palace, Heritage Malta Services Ltd used an existing commercial contract to embark on a four-week trial (from 19th July till 14th August) to analyse the viability and monetary potential of such a restaurant."

Heritage Malta said that the aim of the initiative was also to establish whether Heritage Malta should issue u public call in this regard in future or whether it should be Heritage Malta itself that operates the initiative internally.

"Such arrangements are conducted regularly, in particular with regard to private functions and events held when Heritage Malta sites are rented out. The agency does not promote such functions and neither did it promote this initiative of temporary catering at Vilhena Palace, albeit the company in charge of the catering promoted the initiative via its own channels."

Regarding the comments mentioning Heritage Malta's curators, it said that during the last four years the agency has not only invested in its curatorial staff, but also recruited several new employees as curatorial support to assist curators in their day-to-day tasks. "Curators are deemed as very important by the agency, so much so that in Heritage Malta's recent restructuring curatorial positions were consolidated and elevated, including the creation of higher curatorial positions. While preserving our national heritage and making it accessible, as it has done for the past years, Heritage Malta strives to generate the necessary funds to be re-invested in the protection of our national heritage."

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