It is the festa sea­son

Cul­tural her­itage in our coun­try op­er­ates on a num­ber of lev­els, from pro­fes­sional or­gan­i­sa­tions to vol­un­tary based so­ci­eties and groups with spe­cific ar­eas of in­ter­est.

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

This wide spec­trum of cul­tural par­tic­i­pa­tion pro­vides our coun­try with a rich cul­tural life, full of tra­di­tions which have been passed on for a num­ber of gen­er­a­tions. Tra­di­tions which need our full sup­port to flour­ish and evolve in an ev­er­grow­ing glob­al­ized world.

A tra­di­tion which is present in all com­mu­ni­ties around the is­land is the ‘Festa’. These feasts are the re­sult of count­less hours of hard work on vol­un­tary ba­sis from a count­less num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als and are ea­gerly awaited each year by their re­spec­tive lo­cal com­mu­nity.

The re­silient spirit of the in­di­vid­u­als who put in count­less hours of vol­un­tary work has proven to be a cat­a­lyst in keep­ing such tra­di­tions alive for the ben­e­fit and en­joy­ment of lo­cals and for­eign­ers, who travel to Malta to ex­pe­ri­ence such fes­tiv­i­ties.

Part of this gov­ern­ment strat­egy to keep on strength­en­ing our cul­ture sec­tor, es­pe­cially when it comes to tra­di­tional as­pects that nur­ture our iden­tity, is to pro­vide the nec­es­sary sup­port with­out over­shad­ow­ing the vol­un­tary as­pect of this sec­tion of our cul­ture. This par­tic­u­lar area of our cul­ture is in­trin­si­cally tied to the com­mu­nity which is one of the five strate­gic goals of the Malta Arts Coun­cil 2020 Strat­egy; the Coun­cil’s plan for the cul­ture and cre­ative sec­tors un­til 2020.

One area of sup­port which has been re­cently iden­ti­fied, es­pe­cially be­cause of the par­tic­u­lar ded­i­ca­tion and level of com­mit­ment of the vol­un­teers who keep it alive, is the area of fire­works dis­plays and py­rotech­nics. The spec­tac­u­lar dis­plays that light up Malta’s skies are renowned for their high level of artistry and cre­ativ­ity which is achieved through a lot of hard work aimed at en­sur­ing a smooth out­come.

A cou­ple of weeks ago Arts Coun­cil Malta launched a fund of­fer­ing fi­nan­cial sup­port to Mal­tese fire­works fac­to­ries work­ing on vol­un­tary ba­sis, by pro­vid­ing aid to cre­ate a more se­cure work­ing en­vi­ron­ments for the vol­un­teers who pro­duce fire­works.

Thanks to this fund, last Saturday, 27 fire­works fac­to­ries re­ceived €5,000 each to im­prove their safety prac­tices, an ini­tia­tive aimed at kick-start­ing an im­por­tant in­crease se­cu­rity for the safe­guard­ing of best prac­tices, es­pe­cially when it comes to health and safety.

In or­der to qual­ify for this fund, the fire­works fac­to­ries were re­quired to come up with ideas and pro­pos­als on how they can achieve the up­grade of the fac­to­ries them­selves; on how they can in­vest in the in­fra­struc­ture of the fire­works fac­to­ries; in ma­chin­ery and tools which fa­cil­i­tate the man­u­fac­ture of fire­works and make the process safer; in equip­ment which im­proves safety dur­ing the let­ting off of fire­works, and in train­ing re­sources related to the safety of fire­works as well as on fos­ter­ing bet­ter col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Mal­tese fire­works fac­to­ries. This new fund sup­ports the growth of this pop­u­lar in­dus­try that plays such a cen­tral and prom­i­nent role in Mal­tese cul­ture and cel­e­bra­tions.

Ear­lier this year, we have also launched for the sec­ond year run­ning a fund, which fo­cuses on strength­en­ing the work done by band clubs. These band clubs serve as buzzing cen­tres of cul­tural ac­tiv­ity and also play an im­por­tant role in the lives of their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. Lo­cal tra­di­tions form an in­te­gral part of the coun­try’s cul­tural and so­cial fab­ric. Not only do band clubs of­fer mu­sic lessons at no cost, but they also or­gan­ise cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties all year round which help to safe­guard our cul­tural tra­di­tions.

Since our strat­egy is to en­sure an in­clu­sive and ac­ces­si­ble cul­ture, through this fund we’re once again aid­ing the com­mu­nity to keep on safe­guard­ing and de­vel­op­ing lo­cal cul­ture and tra­di­tions, tak­ing a bot­tomup ap­proach to en­sure bet­ter in­clu­siv­ity and ac­ces­si­bil­ity.

This fund builds on the last year suc­cesses brought by the pre­vi­ous one and aims to sup­port var­i­ous ini­tia­tives pro­posed by the band clubs them­selves. It aims to sup­port col­lab­o­ra­tion amongst band clubs and the im­ple­men­ta­tion of in­no­va­tive projects both on a lo­cal and on an in­ter­na­tional level. Ini­tia­tives brought for­ward can also in­clude the restora­tion of ob­jects of his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance found in the band clubs and the sup­port of train­ing of mu­si­cal con­duc­tors, amongst other ini­tia­tives.

Band clubs hold an in­trin­sic role in our com­mu­ni­ties, since they cre­ate a sense of be­long­ing and also serve as a main point of en­try to cul­ture and the arts, amongst the younger gen­er­a­tions es­pe­cially through the teach­ing of mu­si­cal in­stru­ments and the on-go­ing prepa­ra­tions and artistry in­volved in the feast dec­o­ra­tions. More­over, the build­ings in which these clubs are housed hold a sig­nif­i­cance part of our his­tory, and con­tain var­i­ous ob­jects and arte­facts, which tell the re­cent and past his­tory of our coun­try from a com­mu­nity-based point of view. A point of view which needs to be safe­guarded be­cause it holds truth­ful el­e­ments of our iden­tity.

Build­ing on this need to safe­guard this part of our na­tional iden­tity this week, I have opened a par­lia­men­tary de­bate on a bill, which is aimed at pro­tect­ing Band clubs (and ten­ants; many of them el­derly) who are fac­ing evic­tion. Cur­rently, a to­tal of 20 band clubs are fac­ing the risk to be evicted. The amend­ments pro­posed will cre­ate a bal­ance be­tween the rights of both the pro­pri­etor and lessee. We must rec­og­nize the con­tri­bu­tion these band clubs have done to our com­mu­ni­ties and to so­ci­ety, es­pe­cially since they carry a vi­tal role when it comes to the cul­tural and vol­un­tary sec­tors. I am glad that the Op­po­si­tion de­clared that it will be vot­ing in favour of this Bill.

By in­vest­ing in our lo­cal tra­di­tions, we wouldn’t just be in­vest­ing in safe­guard­ing and de­vel­op­ing our cul­tural sec­tor, but we would be in­vest­ing heav­ily in our so­ci­ety, mak­ing it more re­silient, sus­tain­able and in­clu­sive.

The Malta In­de­pen­dent Friday 15 June 2018

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