An interview with Minister for Culture Hon Dr Owen Bonnici
What would you consider as being the most impactful element of the European Capital of Culture on our country?
When looking back at the past months, especially the last eleven months, one of the most striking aspects of the Valletta 2018 journey was definitely the massive number of people engaged in the numerous cultural initiatives and events organised, either as participants or as audience. Valletta’s tenure as Europe’s Capital of Culture gave our country the opportunity to generate an extensive cultural calendar and the staggering engagement generated by this calendar clearly indicates that our country appreciated the investment, an investment based on three main goals - that of increasing audiences, something which was definitely achieved and we look forward towards continuing to develop further; increasing standards and professionalism, an on-going process fostered by annual increases in the culture budget leading to more funding opportunities for our artistic community and in turn, making the cultural sector an ever stronger economic contributor towards our county. A sector which enriches our standard of living whilst contributing towards our touristic product. The Valletta 2018 calendar included over 400 events spread around Malta and Gozo, marking 2018 as a milestone year, which we are hopeful that it will serve as a springboard for more achievements in the sector, in order to achieve the legacy of Malta’s first ever tenure of the European Capital of Culture. Which was your favourite event?
To be honest it is quite difficult to choose one – I was lucky enough to be able to attend and experience a number of events. One of the events, which truly has left a mark, was definitely il-Festa lKbira, which brought together the four feasts celebrated in Valletta. A truly innovative approach to a popular tradition, which highlighted collaboration, bringing forward the spirit of unity which the European Capital of Culture aims to achieve. Another event that is definitely at heart was the opening of our first-ever national community art museum, aptly named MUŻA and one of Valletta 2018’s flagship projects. MUŻA will be open free of charge for everyone to experience on Saturday 15 December, during the closing celebra- tions and I would like to encourage everyone to visit this space which has culminated our target of restoring historic Valletta buildings to their former glory whilst giving them a purposeful use. In your opinion, how did Valletta’s tenure of the European Capital of Culture contribute to the local cultural scene?