The Malta Independent 21 April 2024, Sunday
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Not merely buzz words but effective action

Owen Bonnici Friday, 23 February 2024, 08:37 Last update: about 3 months ago
I am absolutely passionate about the so many positive things that the Maltese festa brings about in our communities.  Let us put aside for one minute the actual cultural input which it injects into so many people and into so many different localities which is of course very important.  The festa brings about whole communities to collaborate together and to successfully undertake projects collectively through sheer, raw, passionate team work.
 
This process is very inclusive and I really enjoy seeing people from all walks of life and with different abilities contributing their utmost to make this and that project happen.  It is very difficult to put down into words the strength of the commitment hundreds, if not thousands, of festa enthusiasts have in order to provide the communities with their beloved celebrations.
 
Of course, things have been taken a whole new level the minute the festa was declared an intangible heritage of Mankind by UNESCO. With that declaration comes added responsibility on the shoulders of the authorities to make sure that this extraordinary intangible heritage keeps going from strength to strength.
 
And that is what we intend to do.
 
This week we unveiled an improved instrument of financial assistance called “Scheme for Artistic Heritage” for the festa enthusiasts with a total budget of EUR 700,000.  This amount represents a 45% increase over last year.
 
With this added funding we were able to provide a scheme which offers assistance to all the feasts, meaning that each feast is guaranteed funding upon the verification that the application meets all the requirements and works on a system of 100% refund of the expenses incurred up to a threshold.
 
There are three streams under this scheme, each one being tailor-made of the three various components of the festa.  The first component is the aspect relating to Band Clubs, where each band club is eligible to a maximum of EUR 8,000.  The second component is that relating to the much sought after street decorations where each group “tal-armar” is eligible to a maximum of EUR 5,000.  The third component and final component is the pyrothecnic aspect where each fireworks factory which works on a voluntary basis is eligible for a maximum of EUR 5,000.
 
This flexibility is needed because each locality has its distinctive organising set up insofar as festas are concerned, as all the festa goers definitely know.
 
Therefore, if we take as an example the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Zurrieq or the feast of St Catherine in Zurrieq, each feast would benefit from a total maximum of EUR 18,000.  But if we take the feast of St Catherine of Zejtun where the pyrothecnic factory is completely independent of the Band Clubs and services the feast per se, each Band Club there could benefit from a maximum of EUR 13,000, while the firework factory is eligible to get a maximum EUR 5,000.
 
One of the absolutely sine qua non pre-requisities is that each association, under whatever shape or form, needs to be registered under the regime regulating VOs.  The second pre-requisite is that a bona fide application must be put forward, providing the necessary information as requested in the scheme itself.  One can navigate in this website to obtain al the necessary information : https://artscouncilmalta.gov.mt/pages/funds-opportunities/schemes-2024/l-iskema-ghall-wirt-artistiku/.
 
One last thing.  We are not only providing festa enthusiasts an improved scheme only because there are more funds available, which in turn makes it possible for us to provide assistance to each and every festa in Malta and Gozo.  We are not only providing an improved scheme because it is simpler having a one-stop shop rather than three separate streams as it was before.
 
We are also providing festa enthusiasts two different time windows under which to apply therefore being sensitive to the needs of those organisers who sometimes prefer to submit applications before their festa is held and also of those organisers who prefer to submit applications after all is settled and dusted.
 
Of course the fact that we have issued this improved scheme does not limit any festa-related organisation from applying to any other funding stream issued by our Ministry or any other Ministry. 
 
We believe that this scheme will serve to give a fantastic boost to all festa practitioners, and will reflect itself in an even better end result in the various amazing feasts that we will be celebrated in the coming weeks!  Not merely buzz words, but concrete, effective and true action.
 
 
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Mużika Mużika is of course a festival of musical excellence which celebrates the Maltese language in a way which has never been done before.
 
I believe that although Mużika Mużika is still in its fourth year and therefore in its infancy compared to other long-established National Language Song Festivals celebrated eslewhere in Europe, it has already entered into the hearts and minds of many Maltese and Gozitans who look forward to a bounty of fantastic local talent.
 
I cannot but express enormous words of thanks to all the people at Festivals Malta who literally switch from one major event to the next.  One day they are winding up the organisation of Carnival 2024 – which was one of the best Carnivals I have ever seen – and the next they are immediately suited up for Mużika Mużika.  Truly I am proud of each and everyone of the people at this agency, led by Chairperson Aaron Zahra and Chief Executive Francis Agius.
 
Mużika Mużika, of course, has its own organising team which is headed by Ray Bugeja and Mro Paul Abela as the artistic director of the festivals.  I would like to thank each and every one of the people sitting on the team who contribute towards the success of the event.
 
I am sure that Mużika Mużika 2024 will be one which we will all remember.
 
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I grew up listening to various music from all genres, but one band distinctly accompanied me – as I am sure it did to millions other around the globe – through all the steps of my journey to adulthood – Guns’n’Roses.  Therefore I was very happy to attend to an event organised by Raw not War Entertainment which brought together the music of GnR and the versatility of our own Malta Philharmonic Orchestra.
 
Of course the classics were all there – November RainKnocking on Heaven’s Door, Live and Let Die and so on – but in that concert it was the first time I heard tracks such as LocomotiveI used to love herMr BrownstoneEstranged and Civil War played live, let alone along with a fully fledged Symphonic Orchestra.
 
This concert was realised after obtaining funding from the popular Rock’N’Malta fund, which is administred by Festivals Malta.  It was such a good decision we took to give the opportunity for private organisors to apply for funds in order to organise top rock concerts in Malta.
 
Ah ... my favourite piece of the night? Straight out of Chinese Democracy - This is love of course!
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