The Malta Independent 30 September 2023, Saturday
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Maltese festas

Owen Bonnici Friday, 26 May 2023, 08:46 Last update: about 5 months ago

Maltese festas are, in a way, a testament to the cultural spirit of the Maltese communities, a reminder of their ability to embrace life and revel in the joy of celebration through collective and outstanding voluntary efforts. 

The Maltese festa is truly exceptional due to the distinctive characteristics and traditions that set each festa in Malta and Gozo apart from the others, as well as when compared to other festas abroad. 

This is why we believe that it is crucial to enhance and reinforce these unique qualities in the most effective manner possible. Maltese festas are undeniably a significant aspect of Maltese identity, bringing together tradition and innovation.

Visitors from abroad marvel at these vibrant and spectacular celebrations, which are rarely encountered elsewhere in the world. Our community-based culture is the very essence of our cities and villages, and thus it is imperative that we cherish and safeguard it.

As a government, we firmly believe in providing solid support to associations that promote local traditions associated with the festas. Through such initiatives, we aim to strengthen the capabilities of volunteers, enabling them to continue their exceptional work.

In line with this objective, the Health and Safety Standards in Fireworks Factories Fund, administered by Arts Council Malta's Funding Schemes 2023, is providing assistance to 26 voluntary organizations. The fund's primary goal is to enhance the infrastructure of fireworks factories, ensuring a safer working environment for volunteers. Eligible projects received grants of up to €5,000. 

Established in 2018, this fund has played a vital role in sustaining Malta's traditional cultural and creative sector. The voluntary organizations involved in fireworks production continually explore innovative ways to merge traditional customs with modern creations. 

The fund not only supports their artistic endeavors but also guarantees the establishment of safer workplaces within fireworks factories.

Indeed these are a common sight in numerous towns and villages across the Maltese Islands, and they play a central role in Maltese festas. The tradition of fireworks in Malta has a rich history spanning several decades, and it is considered in itself a cultural heritage attraction that draws tourists. 

Funds such as these contribute to the sustainable growth of local communities. Arts Council Malta also underscores the importance of promoting access to cultural heritage, recognizing its significance in fostering a vibrant and inclusive society. 

The Health and Safety Standards in Fireworks Factories Fund specifically supports voluntary organizations by providing them with resources to enhance safety measures. This includes investing in equipment and gear to improve safety, acquiring machinery and tools to enhance production safety, allocating resources for health and safety education, investing in the restoration and infrastructure of fireworks factories, and fostering collaboration at the European level to strengthen industry efforts.

This fund is only one part of the initiatives we have implemented to support festas. In fact this year, we announced three funding schemes, not one. The other two support street decorations (armar) and band club projects.

In all these three schemes collectively amount to an investment of half a million euros for the year 2023.

These are in effect half a million Euros directly injected in our festas.

This is not all. Over and above this assistance, we are also strengthening community-based activities with an additional €600,000 in support

Through them we are continuing to assist volunteer organizations involved in cultural activities and others that contribute to Maltese and Gozitan communities.

Let me explain.

Through an agreement between the LESA Agency and the Association of Local Councils, LESA  will allocate €600,000 annually to the six Regional Committees over two years (€100,000 each).

These funds will be made available and utilized by local councils and NGOs organizations in various Maltese and Gozitan localities to cover, wholly or in part, expenses related to the provision of police, LESA officials, and Civil Protection officers during cultural and other events organized periodically.

It is essential for the government to continuously promote activities within localities to enhance the sense of community. We are close to volunteer organizations and sensitive to their needs and concerns. I pride myself to be a grassroot politician and this work is a clear example of grassroot politics.

This is why we have established this scheme and others to provide assistance in strengthening cultural activities and other events that take place in our villages, towns, and communities.

By strengthening our communities, we are investing in resilient communities that can face local and community challenges. We believe that the value of community work is our responsibility to support, enhance, and celebrate what we accomplish together.

We will continue to work with great energy at the local level, where there is a wealth of volunteer work dedicated to community activities in the cultural sphere, ensuring that they continue to move forward.


The TV show Love Island, produced by third parties and broadcasted on TVM has attracted immense interest.

I cannot recall another TV show in recent years which has captivated such a huge following overnight. Perhaps "Ipokriti" in its heyday had the same effect on people, although the genre is altogether different.

I want to make it immediately clear from the outset that I have no role whatsoever in deciding or otherwise which TV shows are to be aired on the National Broadcaster. It is PBS and PBS alone which decides what is to be or not to be aired.

However, I want to make it equally perfectly clear that I totally support the decision of airing Love Island on the National Broadcaster.

There have been people who were quick to dismiss the show and others who actually liked the show but said that it should be aired anywhere but not on the National Broadcaster.

Of course everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, which I hugely respect, but I would like to make two points.

Firstly, I believe it is the duty of the National Broadcaster to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, including people coming from the younger generation. Our youths too have the right to feel that the National Broadcaster is relevant to their tastes.

The National Broadcaster should never fall into the trap of catering only for the older masses. It should cater for everyone, including our youths.

Secondly, there are some people who honestly but mistakenly believe that PBS is 100% funded from Government coffers. That is absolutely not the case and the percentage of funding which comes straight from the budget vis a vis total expenditure is far away from 100%.

Therefore PBS has also to factor in commercial viability - of course not at the expense of credibility or the holding of the Standards expected out of the National Broadcaster - but still it is an important consideration in the whole debate.

This being said I would like to congratulate the producers of Love Island for the high quality production from the technical point of view and I wish a huge good luck to all the participants!


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