The Malta Independent 27 May 2024, Monday
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Reflecting on the Art Explora Festival

Thursday, 4 April 2024, 10:03 Last update: about 3 months ago

A celebration of arts and culture, social inclusivity and environmental sustainability

The Art Explora Festival in collaboration with Art Explora and Spazju Kreattiv, held at the Xatt Pinto, Valletta Waterfront from March 21st to March 31st, came to a successful end last Sunday as evidenced by the high level of audience engagement and overwhelmingly positive response. Over the course of 10 days, the festival events attracted a diverse array of attendees with an estimated 21,000 visitors.

At the core of the festival's allure stood the remarkable 47-metre long and 55-metre high catamaran, ingeniously transformed into the world's first-ever museum boat with its maiden voyage to Malta. Each day, this magnificent vessel welcomed hundreds of visitors, providing an immersive experience that epitomised the fusion of art and culture, technology, and community engagement. Throughout the festival duration, attendees embarked on the museum boat, immersing themselves in its captivating audio-visual journey through the history of the Mediterranean Seas.

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With 30 initiatives and 55 activities, the festival comprised a curated programme tailored to a wide public spectrum. From dynamic music compositions to thought-provoking circus arts, film and dance, each performance served as a compelling vehicle for storytelling and social commentary. Over 95 artists from Malta and overseas converged to share their creative vision, shedding light on pertinent global issues and inspiring positive action.

Central to the festival's ethos, developed by Art Explora Foundation and Spazju Kreattiv, was its dedication to fostering democratic platforms for encounters and exchanges through the creative arts. A series of workshops for children and their families centred around the captivating catamaran experience offered a space for the exploration of themes such as cultural diversity, ecological preservation, and gender equality. Drawing inspiration from the featured Louvre Museum artefacts, they encouraged active engagement and participatory learning.

Additionally, the festival hosted the Open Book Fora, developed with 15 different social partners, providing an inclusive arena for individuals to share social stories and explore contemporary societal issues. This forum furthered the festival's mission of fostering dialogue and action on pressing global issues, forging connections that transcended the festival grounds.

Another feature of the festival was "Ocean Weekend", held on March 23rd and 24th, which cast a spotlight on local and global ocean-related issues. Through panel discussions, guest speeches, film screenings, sound broadcasts, and NGO-led workshops, participants gained diverse insights into topics such as water politics and ecological stewardship. Collaborating with the Malta Biennale and the French Embassy in Valletta, this festival facilitated interdisciplinary discussions on archival poetry and ocean knowledge dissemination, enriching the overall experience.

In essence, the Art Explora Festival not only celebrated creativity but also catalysed collective action toward a more equitable and sustainable future. By challenging conventional perspectives and prompting introspection, the festival encouraged attendees to expand their horizons and confront assumptions. Through the shared experience of art and culture, attendees were inspired to transcend barriers of language, culture, and ideology, fostering connections that endure beyond the festival days. With hundreds of people involved in the various events and activities, the festival's resonance extends far beyond its closing date, leaving an indelible mark of creative inspiration and social action.

As the Art Explora Festival comes to an end, the Minister for National Heritage, the Arts, and Local Government Owen Bonnici reflected on the impact of art as a unifying force. "During the past ten days, it has been undeniable: art has wielded an incredible influence in uniting people," observed Dr Bonnici. "Through a myriad of initiatives, we have seen art bringing people together, sparking connections and meaningful conversations."

Mr Frédéric Jousset, President-Founder of the Art Explora Foundation, shared his enthusiasm for the festival's stopover tremendous success. "As we bring the festival stopover in Malta to a close, we look back on a voyage abundant in artistic wonders thanks to the rich programme we co-created between Art Explora Foundation and Spazju Kreattiv" Mr Jousset reflected. "This Maltese stopover was a major moment in the Art Explora Festival's history, and the success it met sets the tone for the rest of the festival's itinerancy. It represents the beginning of a 3-year promising journey that will enable the Art Explora Foundation to continue its mission: sharing the arts with as many people as possible.."

Expressing appreciation for all who contributed to the festival's vibrant dialogue, Mr Rupert Cefai, Chairman of Fondazzjoni Kreattività, commented, "The accomplishments of the festival's first stopover stand as evidence of the benefits of collaborative endeavours. We rejoice in the preservation and cultivation of our cultural heritage, fostering a collective sense of ownership over our cultural narrative. Acting as a catalyst for both creativity and community involvement, the festival has left an enduring impression."

Daniel Azzopardi, Artistic Director of Spazju Kreattiv and curator of the Art Explora Festival in Malta emphasised how the festival managed to democratise access to the arts and empower active audience participation. "As we say goodbye to the festival, we acknowledge its profound impact in democratising access to the arts," remarked Mr. Azzopardi. "Through pioneering programming and strategic partnerships, we fostered deeper engagement of people with contemporary arts. The festival has enriched cultural appreciation in Malta and abroad, establishing the foundation for continued dialogue and collaboration."

The Art Explora Festival has left an enduring mark on Malta's cultural landscape, inspiring and uniting communities through art's transformative power. As participants reflect on this unforgettable experience, they carry with them memories of a festival that transcended boundaries. The enduring impact of the festival's inaugural stopover will continue to ignite creativity and celebrate human connection at the other planned stopovers around the Mediterranean in the coming years.

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