To­wards a new cul­tural pol­icy

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - LIFESTYLE & CULTURE -

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

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