Reasons to celebrate?
What are the implications of pitching this potentially scene-changing opportunity as simply yet another ‘celebration’.
IN just over a couple of weeks, Valletta will officially become European Capital of Culturein 2018. The fruits of this particular labour having survived – in altered, some may even say mangled, form – across various elections and successive governments since 2011, it comes with both cultural and political baggage. Baggage whose weight of expectation hangs heavy on the backs of various “creative practitioners” on the island; to say nothing of the Foundation whose job it is to ensure that not only does the year run richly and smoothly, but that the event secures a much-vaunted “legacy” for the island’s way of doing things when it comes to arts and culture.
Having first submitted its bid in 2011 – the same year in which the Valletta 2018 Foundation was first set up – the city and, by extension, Malta, has since shifted its approach to what we should aim for when the time comes, many times over. From the idea of seven ‘artistic programme directors’ putting in motion a cultural programme overseen by accomplished composer Wayne Marshall – dissolved immediately in favour of a more stratified approach following a change in government in 2013, which resulted in the controversial appointment of Jason Micallef as the Foundation’s Chairman – to the equally controversial appointment of infamously boisterous film producer Mario Philip Azzopardi as its erstwhile Artistic Director (it later turned out he would only be in charge of a number of “large projects”), the Foundation has had its ups and downs in terms of public perception. But as the fateful year edges very closely on the horizon, it seems that the Foundation has chosen to flatten – if not outright dissolve – all the seams and contradictions that it’s been blighted with since Valletta’s ‘EcoC’ bid was first submitted in 2011 (to be confirmed in 2013).