The Malta Independent 13 June 2024, Thursday
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Preserving our culture, one locality at a time

Owen Bonnici Friday, 17 May 2024, 08:30 Last update: about 26 days ago

Amongst the many initiatives we have introduced, one of the most popular is surely the Restoration Works Scheme for Local Councils, aimed at further appreciating the historical heritage found in villages and towns across Malta.

The Scheme was first launched in 2015 and provides a structured platform through which Local Councils, often with the direct participation of the public, submit proposals for the restoration of vernacular buildings and monuments that are of great value to their community.

The Scheme allows Local Councils to identify and propose to restore a range of small buildings and other immovable monuments deemed worthy and in need of preservation in their community. It is open on a quasiannual basis and is aimed mainly at small and medium-sized projects such as small churches and chapels, towers, statues, niches, and pillboxes, as well as other historical structures and sites located in villages and towns.

The Local Council’s role in this scheme is threefold - to identify which projects should be singled out for restoration, based on the benefit their restoration would give to their communities; to then facilitate contact with public entities during works should the project be selected; and finally to maintain the restored building or monument for ten years following project completion. The Scheme reaches 54 Local Councils in Malta through the Department of Local Government. Naturally, Gozitan Councils benefit from a parallel scheme issued by the Ministry for Gozo.

The Restoration Works Scheme for Local Councils was reissued this year, bringing forward a total of twenty-five restoration project proposals from as many localities. The selection process has finished and the selected projects have been just announced yesterday. But I will elaborate on that in a second.

Since the launch of the Scheme eight years ago, a total of fiftyfour restoration projects have been selected in forty-one different localities in Malta – this means that 82% of the Local Councils eligible to participate in the Scheme managed to have a restoration proposal selected. Nine localities had two projects selected in different years and two Local Councils were successful three times with their submitted proposals since the launch of the Scheme in 2015.

To date, fifty projects have been fully completed, including twenty chapels, fourteen votive niches and statues, two coastal fortifications, three archways, and several other historic buildings and structures. Work is currently underway on four other projects.

All this shows how successful this Scheme is. It indeed provides another opportunity for close collaboration between public entities and local communities with a common goal – revitalising and reviving the historic buildings that adorn our towns and cities.

This year, 11 historical sites - including statues, niches, monuments, chapels, and specific historical structures scattered across various localities - are set to undergo restoration. I would like to also underscore the importance of local councils in promoting cultural heritage preservation. These preservation initiatives at historical sites within the heart of localities not only serve to conserve cultural heritage for future generations but also enhance the competitiveness of the Maltese islands in the tourism sector.

The local councils benefiting from this scheme include Rabat (Malta), Żejtun, Swieqi, Qormi, Mellieħa, Qrendi, Balzan, Tarxien, Birkirkara, Ħamrun, and Imqabba.

Għajn tal-Ilma and the niche of Saint Paul in Rabat, the military wall in Swieqi, the Collegiate Church of Saint George in Qormi, the Chapel of Santa Marija talĦlas in Żejtun, the sculptural feature on the Manikata Parish Church in Mellieħa, the Min façade in Qrendi, the Stone Cross on Imrieħel Road in Balzan, the façade of the All-Souls Cemetery in Tarxien, the Bell Tower of Our Lady of Victory chapel in Birkirkara, the façade of Palazzo Balcas in Ħamrun and two corner niches in Mqabba will be given a lease of life.

I would like to thank all the staff at the Restoration and Preservation Department whose assiduous work in carrying out these restoration projects, from initial planning stage to site implementation phase, is surely appreciated by the general public.

Il-Festa tal-FESTI

“Il-Festa tal-Festi” will be running for the second consecutive year from Wednesday 15th to Sunday 19th May, 2024. Under the patronage of Her Excellency President Myriam Spiteri Debono, this event is organized in aid of the Malta Community Chest Fund.

The primary objective of these festivities is to unite both locals and tourists in a celebration of Maltese culture and traditional festas. Its main aim is to provide a comprehensive cultural experience that highlights Malta’s rich history and heritage, offering opportunities for education and awareness-raising about the traditions surrounding Maltese festas.

The event will immerse attendees in the authentic atmosphere of a traditional Maltese festa, featuring live band performances, festive decorations, artisanal crafts, and delectable cuisine. Additionally, a diverse range of activities, such as performances, workshops, band marches, and palace tours, will be offered throughout the week.

Ultimately, “Il-Festa tal-Festi” endeavors to promote, preserve, and celebrate Maltese culture, traditions, and festivals, which are integral to the identity of Malta and are unparalleled elsewhere in the world. Moreover, the event seeks to instill an appreciation for Maltese culture within children through engagement and educational programs tailored to their interests.

But the festa is much more than just a cultural celebration. In every village and town in Malta and Gozo, the traditional Maltese festa is a special event that brings our communities together. It not only represents our cultural and religious identity, but also shows how hard cultural and social groups work to keep these traditions alive.

The Maltese festa is really important for kids. It helps them learn about our culture, feel like they belong, and understand our religious traditions. They get to join in different festa activities, learn about Maltese history and customs, and make friends.

The festa is a time for everyone to come together, have fun with music, fireworks, food, and games, and feel like they’re part of something special. Overall, the Maltese festa makes kids proud of where they come from and gives them happy memories of our shared traditions.

As a Ministry, we’re committed to supporting and recognizing these efforts, made by dedicated volunteers who love our culture.

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