An in­ter­view with Min­is­ter for Cul­ture Hon Dr Owen Bon­nici

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - VALLETTA18 -

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?

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