Festivals Malta is launched – Strengthening the cultural experience to unprecedented levels

Arts Council Malta (ACM) has launched Festivals Malta — a Public Cultural Organisation (PCOs) which not only programmes cultural activities, but also endeavours to make festivals and the performing arts an integral part of Maltese life.

Along with its team of 20 talented and dedicated professionals and 8 artistic directors, Festivals Malta is responsible for more than 160 activities, which comprise of 8 festivals and 5 national events.

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The festivals include: ‘il-Karnival ta’ Malta’, ‘the World Music Festival’, ‘Għanafest’, ‘the Malta International Arts Festival’, ‘the Malta Jazz Festival’, ‘Notte Bianca’, ‘the Three Palaces Festival’ and ‘Rock Events’. The five national events are: Freedom Day, celebrated on 31st March; Sette Giugno on 7th June; Victory Day on 8th September; Independence Day on 21st September; and Republic Day on 13th December. Festivals Malta is also responsible for the celebration of the feasts of San Girgor, Dun Karm as well as other cultural events including the Epiphany Concert and the Christmas Crib competition.

In addition to its already rich calendar of events, Festivals Malta is proud to be setting up the EU-funded Malta Carnival Experience project, which will offer a year-round carnival showcase of all elements related to this popular event, which is a long-lasting tradition. Carnival enthusiasts will benefit from a state-of-the-art space which will enable them to not only work in an exciting and vibrant environment, but will also act as a platform for them to showcase their work. In this way, visitors will have the opportunity to appreciate the creative processes involved, learn about Carnival’s rich history and watch the parades.

“As the minister responsible for culture, I see this as a unique historical moment for a quality leap in artistic and cultural development, for the creation of new forms of artistic expression, and for the opening of new horizons for cultural insemination across national borders and beyond”, stated Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici.

Speaking about the function of Festivals Malta, Festivals Director Annabelle Stivala said that “the setting up of Festivals Malta will create a strong and focused brand identity for festivals and events, increasing not only participation and awareness locally, but also raising the cultural profile of Malta for it to become synonymous with a strong creative cultural offering on an international level.”

It is important to note that Festivals Malta is now a separate organisation from ACM. This separation has come about in order to keep the regulating body apart from the operating arm of the parent entity, thus avoiding conflicts of interest and ensuring that the vision and mission of the National Cultural Policy and ACM’s mandate are fulfilled more efficiently, as declared in its Create 2020 manifesto.

“Working off the fact and universal acceptance that Malta and Gozo are passionately fun-loving and committed to inventing and reinventing opportunities for merry-making and engagement in communal celebration, we have finally taken the plunge to formalise a dedicated platform for the delivery of a higher quality, more eclectic, more inclusive and more diverse programme of festival and events material. We now have a tighter, more focused équipe to implement this programme, which will be solidly backed up by ACM resources and by business partners and stakeholders including the Malta Tourism Authority”, stated Executive Chair of Arts Council Malta Albert Marshall.”

Hon. Owen Bonnici at the Festivals Malta

Festivals Director Annabelle Stivala elaborated further and noted how “the separation of a distinct organisation will lead to greater focus on excellence in the execution of festivals, as well as create a unique brand identity around festivals and events organised by Festivals Malta.”

Festivals Malta goes beyond organising events with a vision to nurture creativity, professionalism, participation and cultural education in festivals. The organisation will also facilitate a connection with other international festivals, providing opportunities for local talent while also bringing new and innovative ideas to Malta. Being an island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, bridging Europe and Africa, Malta is seen as an appropriate location for the collaboration between local and European artists. Festivals Malta will build upon this, together with the country’s authenticity and hospitality, to help create Malta’s brand as a place where people can travel to enjoy their favourite art form – a festival island.