Towards a new cultural policy
In the coming weeks, the Culture Directorate within the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government will give start to 10 stakeholders meetings. The aim of each meeting is to discuss, analyse and evaluate how we would like culture to develop in the first half of the coming decade.
This policy shall be the second one. Malta’s first national cultural policy was launched in 2011. Since then, rapidly-evolving global and local factors have transformed our cultural landscape. Some of the goals that were set in 2011 have been achieved more successfully than others, while new challenges have emerged. This consultation process shall open the first conversation about a new cultural policy for the period 2020-2025.
Each meeting shall have a theme. They will kick-off with cultural communities (two sessions, in Malta on 19 May and in Gozo on 26 May). Today, cultural activity lies in the heart of our communities and is led by numerous NGOs who serve their community’s interests, passion and identity. Through voluntary activity, thousands of individuals in Malta and Gozo participate and engage in traditional activities, whilst new emerging communities are contributing to increased diversification of community-led cultural participation. The new policy should encourage different cultural NGOs and communities to develop further their capacity as contributors in local, social and cultural wellbeing and see how traditional and new cultural communities can be empowered to act as catalysts in cultural development.
Another important aspect is cultural heritage (23 May). The rapid transformation of the Maltese landscape has brought about numerous challenges for the preservation and management of cultural heritage. This has to be safeguarded, protected and promoted. We need to ask ourselves whether governance structures in this sector need to be further strengthened or developed.
For a cultural policy to be forward-looking, one needs to give importance to innovation in cultural and creative practices (24 May). Malta’s creative economy is driven by thousands of cultural and creative practitioners who through their skill, talent and entrepreneurial drive are shaping the growth of the sector. The policy has to recommend tools to sustain this growth, leverage access to finance, support new business models and facilitate inter-industry cooperation.
Globalisation has become part of our lives and therefore, international cultural cooperation (30 May) is a part of our vision. Internationalisation presents artists and cultural professionals with diverse creative opportunities that impact their practice. There are also spill-over effects in other sectors, including international cultural relations, development, tourism and trade. We need to explore outside one’s own mental and physical borders in order to translate into successful inter- national cultural cooperation.
In a multi-cultural society, cultural diversity and inclusion (31 May) is growing in importance. Culture must be equitable and inclusive, intended for all residents of the Maltese islands whether they are practitioners or consumers. A new policy should ensure that people from diverse communities and all walks of life become active participants in culture and the arts. Doors need to be open for different minority groups for their active participation.
As the majority of professionals in the cultural and creative sectors operate through small enterprises, often in an individual capacity as a freelancer, the professional status of the cultural and creative workers (5 June) becomes an important topic in this scenario. There any specific challenges that are limiting the professionalisation of the cultural and creative workers which need to be addressed and the cultural policy can serve as an instrument to address the status of the artist and cultural professionals to achieve sustainable activity that produces the highest levels of quality.
In recent years, regions and local councils have become active players in regional cultural development (16 June in Gozo). From numerous yearly festivals to ongoing initiatives for communities, local government has become an important stakeholder in culture and the arts. In order to be sustainable, new frameworks may be proposed that support stronger collaborations in cultural planning by regions and local councils in Malta and Gozo.
Creative skills, cultural capital and participation in the arts are key parts of a holistic education. Arts education (20 June) has significant positive impact on children’s development and their well-being. It also has a direct impact on cultural participation and engagement. The cultural policy has to support the framework for formal, informal and non-formal learning in arts, media and culture, including measures that support both learners and trainers.
The set of meetings will reach a climax with a session dedicated to the young generation (23 June). Artistic practice by young people and cultural participation by youths are recognised as cultural rights in an equitable culture that provides for active citizenship, critical thinking and empowerment. The policy will look into bringing a long-term synergy between cultural policy, youth organisations and youth workers.
Everyone is invited to take an active part in these sessions because the cultural policy belongs to everyone and everyone benefits from culture because it brings happiness and well-being. Culture brings out the positivity in all of us. All sessions in Malta will take place at Fortress Builders, Valletta while those in Gozo will take place at the Main Hall, Ministry for Gozo, Victoria. Weekday sessions start at 6pm. Those falling on a Saturday start at 9.30am