Director Festivals Malta
It has been an exciting journey spanning four decades. That is how long it has been since the first festival organized by the Maltese Government became a reality.
Over the years, the industry has come a long way and various concerts and performances have been staged and experienced by our mosaic of audiences. We are now 8 festivals strong with roots in practically every main art form and music genre. Our team now consists of 20 professionals and 8 artistic directors involved in more than 160 activities. We are also currently spearheading two major infrastructural cultural projects, the Malta Carnival Experience and the Rock Hub.
However growth brings with it the need for self-reflection about purpose, vision, strategy and deliverables. This is what is at the heart and soul of the creation of Festivals Malta. Being at the cross-roads, we are looking at ways to not only increase audiences but to set deeper roots in the community and its cultural development. We will be working hard to establish more economic, organisational and artistic synergies and above all, we are committed to make Festivals Malta a key player in furthering Malta’s growth as a nation.
I am deeply honoured to be presenting the branding and vision of Festivals Malta - a very important milestone in the local cultural sector and I would like to express my gratitude to all those who helped to make this a reality.
Executive Chair Arts Council Malta
Festivals Malta is the end result of thorough consultations and a series of engaged conversations with stakeholders and local and international cultural practitioners who have provided us with expert advice.
For a considerable length of time now since its inception three years ago, Arts Council Malta has been tagging along Festivals and Events. Not as it should have been, as evident from a cursory study of how foreign arts councils operate. Fully aware of this reality, we have been deliberating on the best way how to hive off Festivals and Events from ACM and create for Festivals and Events the status of a Public Cultural Organisation (PCO) with an identity of its own, retaining special ties with the council. In this way, Festivals Malta will have some of the council’s resources at its disposal to ensure not just a cost-effective operational arrangement but also a state of a creative symbiosis. This will in turn guarantee a platform for both entities off which to launch essential elements of ACM’s core remits. These include obligations to develop audience growth, internationalise the local cultural and artistic sector, professionalise the industry, strengthen the nexus between the cultural sector and education, and cultivate a deep sense of the need for constant research to inform strategic initiatives that lead to sustainability, innovation, employability and economic growth.
To give context, mission and vision to this important development, concurrently with the launch of Festivals Malta, we are issuing a strategy document to serve as a beacon for all PCOs to map out a way forward as they embark on a exciting voyage, which albeit their commitment to continuity, will be opening up new horizons and challenging destinations.
HON. OWEN BONNICI
Minister for Justice, Culture & Local Government
Festivals Malta is a fresh new brand for festivals to associate with and be part of. Participants will be able to identify with it, as this can be seen as the ‘umbrella organisation’ that groups festivals together, making them more accessible and visible to the public. As a minister, but above all as a passionate supporter of this sector, it has been my pleasure to work with Arts Council Malta to make sure that Festivals Malta becomes a reality. From now onwards with this new policy for festivals and events, which is a first in our country, festivals truly have their own identity.
For the strengthening of this sector, one must have the right vision and the drive to act as a fulcrum to give this country’s creative energies the right support to produce excellence.
The Government of Malta aims to give culture and the arts the attention they deserve. For such a small country, we’re moving steadily towards a richer arts and culture sector and Festivals Malta is something that I truly believe aims to contribute to this. This brand will help with bringing culture closer to the public, something that this Government aims to achieve.
For the Maltese public, festivals are a wonderful way to increase participation, reach out to the youth and to all segments of society, and ensure a Maltese cultural product that is engaging, accessible and varied. Research has identified festivals as the primary point for local participation and an area of strong community engagement, both in creating the product as well as consuming it.
People attend festivals for a range of reasons. For some it is a welcome form of community cohesion with grass roots culture and creativity at its heart. For others, it is a simpler proposition, looking for fun times shared with family and friends. Overall, festivals provide accessible and fun entertainment, often taking place outdoors in spectacular sites, providing people with an opportunity for audiences to take part in something bigger than themselves. Festivals are an integral part of Maltese culture, which also provide a fantastic opportunity for us to be able to share our traditions, authenticity and cultural fabric with our visitors.
With the energy and drive spurred on by Valletta 2018, the opportunity exists to leverage the significant investment in the European City of Culture activities and continue the legacy to sustain this investment for the future of arts and culture in Malta.
Moreover, there is a significant opportunity to further promote the Maltese cultural and artistic scene internationally and attract foreign visitors who come to Malta specifically for its events and festival attractions, thus dialling up Malta’s tourism product.
The rebranding of the Festivals Directorate as Festivals Malta is one of the key actions (Action 11) in the Arts Council Strategy Create 2020. Launched in December 2015, Create 2020 proposed the establishment of Festivals Malta including the Carnival Experience, as part of the Valletta 2018 legacy programme.
The hiving off of Festivals Malta from its ‘mother entity’, Arts Council Malta, is a strategic attempt to facilitate the growth of more than 160 separate activities across 8 festivals and 5 national events, leveraging a team of 20 talented, passionate and dedicated professionals along with 8 artistic directors, who shape the current festivals directorate responsible for the events programme of Arts Council Malta.
Festivals Malta will drive for greater focus on excellence in the execution of festivals and will create a unique brand identity around this sector. It will also be the organisation responsible for the implementation and running of the EU-funded project, a tremendous opportunity to create a ‘year-round’ carnival experience as well as the implementation of the Rock Hub which will be an incubator for emerging musicians and bands. Furthermore, Festivals Malta will enable cooperation between events and festivals, regardless of their source, to promote artistic expression, cultural excellence and democratic expression, and this same cooperation will be tapped into to create economies of scale between festivals.
Festivals Malta will also be a focal point for outreach to other international festivals, providing opportunities for local talent while also bringing new and innovative ideas to Malta.
Festivals Malta will promote Malta’s global brand as that of a ‘festival island’, building on our authenticity and hospitality – a place where people travel to enjoy their favourite performing art.
The vision is to promote Malta as a Cultural Festival Destination aiming at increasing audiences and gain optimal benefits for the country through events.
Festivals Malta’s mission is to nurture creativity, professionalism, participation and cultural education in arts festivals. It strives to continue to make festivals an integral part of Maltese social and cultural life.
The key objectives for Festivals Malta are to:
Provide the right internationally oriented platform to sustain growth and development, as part of the Valletta 2018 legacy.
Focus Festivals Malta on having the highest standard events and festivals benchmarked against top international festivals.
Implement the first phase of the Festivals and Events Strategy in collaboration with public cultural organisations in order to reach excellence and innovation in the implementation of festivals and artistic events in Malta.
Consolidate and develop on the current portfolio of festivals and events, bringing in new ideas and innovation.
Establish a strong network of affiliations with festival organisations, which will also include regional festival partnerships.
Drive further brand recognition for the Festivals Malta product.
Leverage synergies and optimise costs across the various organisations wherever possible.
Provide the right tools and enablers including the introduction of an integrating ticketing system that works across festivals, events and public cultural organisations.
Drive participation locally with more focussed and effective marketing tailored to each festival.
Engage with schools and communities on all levels to encourage participation in the arts.
Nurture tradition, emerging talent and identity through the Malta Carnival Experience and the Rock Hub.
Enable a national arts and cultural calendar, driving greater synergies and alignment across public and private cultural organisations.
Work closely with the Maltese travel industry to grow Malta’s image and brand internationally as an expanding niche in cultural tourism.
Make our festivals a platform for commissioning, producing and
co-producing works at a national and international level.