Leading towards European Capital of Culture 2018, the Malta International Arts Festival is based on artistic integrity, excellence and breadth. Malta International Arts Festival believes in the importance of artistic collaboration between cultural realities and strives to forge synergies.  With our unique position in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, we can act as an artistic bridge between Europe and the African coast.  We are also in right in the middle between East and West, and are very lucky to be an island imbued with history – history that we can look back to, react to, be inspired by and use as a canvas.  This provides us with an incredibly diverse, rich and colourful tapestry to work on, and create new things, fusing different cultures, using our heritage, but looking also beyond.

The Malta International Arts Festival crosses boundaries and promotes the freedom of artistic expression through a programme that embraces site-specific curation, music, visual arts, theatre, dance, opera, installations, films, community projects, interactive and participatory events, and education, in multidisciplinary fashion, through celebrating the past, but also promoting the Art of our Time, mostly in venues and spaces of massive historical significance.

The Malta International Arts Festival 2017 (EU Presidency Special Edition) is creating an even stronger culture of commissioning new work, particularly interactive/installation-based work.  It is also creating calls and providing new platforms for various artforms, and cultivating a culture for residencies [e.g. London Sinfonietta].  The aspiration is for Malta to become a destination on the world’s cultural map.  The vision is to achieve this by bringing Art to the people, through distinctive programming and by creating a unique cultural offer.  MIAF wants to thrash the perception of elitism, without losing the respect towards the highest form of Art.   We have merged Maltese and international art together with exciting results. We are bringing what is happening in the world to Malta, but, importantly, we are nurturing talent and giving our young artists a platform.

Emerging and established artists are encouraged to push boundaries through creative and innovative practices and performances making the festival a fertile breeding ground for ideas, collaborations and possibilities with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity.  We have created interactive swings, magic visual carpets, a moving theatre going around villages in a traditional Maltese bus, a hybrid of dance, movement and sound open for participation across all levels, theatre workshops, composition workshops, calls for artwork etc.  The aim is to engage with the public, not just in learning environments, but in bringing art to the people and allowing the interaction between the two to create Art.  

We issued calls for different things, creating a choir to perform for Arvo Pärt, visual art which was then printed in our programmes, compositions which were then given life, young artists’ proposals for which we created a series. We have transformed Shakespeare’s Hamlet into a real life court case together with real Maltese lawyers, Judge and jury.  We worked with disadvantaged children, youths, communities. 

We are now in a position to say we are attracting the best in the world to come to Malta, creating a wonderful melting pot of cultures and artistic fusion.  As Artistic Director for MIAF in this very privileged time when we are working towards ECOC2018, I will always seek to grow – interaction, participation, innovation, internationalisation, engagement, diversity and reach.  And that is what we have to, and need to do, in order for 2018 not to become a wondrous one-off aurora borealis, but to have constantly evolving Turner skies. 

Dr Michelle Castelletti