MALTA INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL
23 JUNE - 15 JULY 2017
Under the artistic direction of Michelle Castelletti
The Malta International Arts Festival is based on artistic integrity and excellence, through the creation of innovative work, collaboration between countries/artists, and engagement of the wider society, education, diversity, and breadth. MIAF crosses boundaries and promotes the freedom of artistic expression through a programme that embraces music, visual arts, theatre, dance, opera, installations and film, in multidisciplinary fashion. Last year’s highlight was Arvo Pärt as featured and guest composer.
Artistic Commitment and Innovative Approaches
Every festival is unique and has its own identity. The Malta International Arts Festival believes in excellence and in artistic integrity as well as in reaching out to the people. 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.
The Malta International Arts Festival wants to create an environment where the want to aspire and thrive for more is constant, and where experimentation, expressivity, innovation, fused with a celebration of what already is, comes from within. MIAF wants to help lead Malta to Capital City of Culture, and to bring Malta to the forefront of what is happening in the Arts today. MIAF is creating a culture of commissioning new work, particularly interactive/installation-based work. It is also creating calls and providing new platforms for various artforms and interdisciplinarity – including visual arts, composition, choreography and site-specific curation. MIAF is also cultivating a culture for residencies. The next one coming up is with London Sinfonietta. Looking towards 2018, MIAF is collaborating with other festivals for newly-commissioned works, and discussions are underway with different partners.
The Malta International Arts Festival is the highlight in Malta’s cultural calendar, embracing 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, and in site-specific curated projects. As Artistic Director of MIAF, I want to enchant children and stimulate adults, and I want to find new and memorable ways of doing so through interpretation that is accessible to the community and wider public, and innovative, but reflecting on the beauty of the past, on the other. Last year we even performed Arvo Pärt’s latest work, in agreement with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel who had just commissioned it.
We have worked with Maltese poets and international musicians, Maltese composers with international dancers, Maltese actors with international directors. We presented 2 works by BalletBoyz just straight after their premiere at Sadler’s Wells. We took the theatre to the streets from village to village in a vintage Maltese bus. We are bringing what is happening in the world to Malta, but, importantly, we are nurturing talent and giving our young artists a platform. Different performances target different audiences. 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 inter-disciplinarity.
The Malta International Arts Festival was created to help take Malta towards 2018, when we are European Capital of Culture. Its aim is to reach out to people, bringing people to art, but, importantly, to bring Art to the people. We need to make this accessible, giving the opportunity for the man in the street to experience something s/he never has, and possibly change perceptions and misconception in the process. Malta sadly does not have this inbuilt properly in our education systems, or in a governmental widening participation strategy.
The Malta International Arts Festival is trying to change this and to create something that will truly make a difference, finding new ways of enticing people and, fundamentally enriching the community. With our new approach to interactive installation, MIAF has managed to reach out to thousands – no mean feat in a small country such as Malta. 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, 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.
Local artists are offered a unique opportunity to work with established artists, with exciting results. We transformed our Capital City with an interactive moving light-design and soundscape creation which lit the whole of the high street of the splendid Baroque city, Valletta. It is the duty of any artistic organisation to have a core of education and integration, including engagement and wider participation. With our climate, we are very lucky to be able to use the outdoors, including the sea. One of our installations for MIAF2016 was an installation based on the idea of the swings: an interactive installation for people to “compose” with light beams and sounds as samples are triggered off by the swinging movement.
I am aiming to spark curiosity, and for MIAF to gain the people’s trust. Once you have that, you can take people with you on a journey of discovery. That is the beauty of audience development. The audiences are growing, and the demographic is starting to change, and we are finally also reaching out to the younger audiences to inspire, enrich, nurture and enchant and also to help create the audiences of the future.
We took the traditional Maltese bus to different villages, we created a choir for which anyone could have applied for, we issued calls for different things – visual art – which was then printed in our programmes, scores – which were then performed in the festival, 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. MIAF is now on the right path.
European and International Engagement:
MIAF is not just a showcase of events but rather a strategy towards establishing a cultural legacy. A long list of internationally renowned artists have participated in MIAF, including several ensembles, artists and organisations.
The Festival believes in the importance of artistic collaboration between countries and cultural realities and works on spotting, forging and growing synergies and partnerships. MIAF crosses boundaries; consolidates what already exists; and strives to becomes a creative and cultural hub in Malta. MIAF wants to be seen at the forefront of innovation and as one of the festivals in the world that supports, promotes and creates.
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. 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. With MIAF, we also seek to veil our artistic vision with a socio-political tinge, sometimes explicit and at other times as an underlying agenda. We are also 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. We believe that the MIAF can become a benchmark for Malta’s cultural achievement and attain a place on the world’s cultural map.
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. A very exciting strand of the festival is the collaborations between international artists and local talent and we seek to grow this year on year, in all artforms and across all artforms. MIAF boasts excellence and artistic integrity, and works to inspire, enthuse, excite, enrich and touch people’s lives. 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.
The term innovation is very often used, as is the term laboratory for creativity – with this kind of setup, we can work to achieve this. I want Malta to become a hub for the Arts, for creativity, for commissioning new work and to put its stamp on the cultural map. I want us to invest in the future, in young talent and to nurture it and support it. We are creating hybrids between artforms, collaborations between Maltese and international artists, we are embracing our identity and heritage, but also looking at what is happening in the world. 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.