Moving the arts to ‘where the real market lives’ | Gaby Giacchino

Teodor Reljic speaks to Gaby Giacchino who, together with percussionist Renzo Spiteri, has just set up #EngageCREATIVES, which aims to help local artists consolidate their practice with a long-term economic strategy 

Renzo Spiteri and Gaby Giacchino
Renzo Spiteri and Gaby Giacchino

What was the spur that led to #EngageCREATIVES? Why do you think Maltese artists could benefit from such a service?

#EngageCREATIVES, in its initial format, is an idea that has been brewing in our minds for a significant amount of time. Renzo [Spiteri] and I have been fully immersed as practitioners within the cultural sector for several years now, and have seen the industry in Malta go through significant changes. Renzo, in particular, has managed to carve a career for himself on an international level as a creative and innovative artist long before the concept of professionalisation of the arts reached our shores. 

Although Renzo and I work within the same industry, our backgrounds and roles are completely different in that Renzo excels in artistic vision and creative content of projects, while my focus is on the managerial aspects of the arts. Through #EngageCREATIVES we would like to share the knowledge and experience gained throughout all these years of working in Malta and abroad with whoever might need it.

Given the ease with which creatives can promote themselves on social media nowadays, what kind of specific tools are you offering them that they can’t get elsewhere?

The role of #EngageCREATIVES goes well beyond the function and identity of social media. Through market research that we have conducted amongst creatives and business entities based in Malta, it has emerged that although the government’s financial commitment towards the sector has progressively increased over the past few years, financial assistance tends to have a secondary role when compared to creatives’ need of having tailored support in terms of artistic content and project management. 

Furthermore, creatives and independent business entities have expressed the need of having a professional support platform that is easily accessible, that understands their respective needs and that bridges the gap between them. Since Renzo and I are well aware of the specifics of the creative industry and its peculiarities, #EngageCREATIVES has been designed to offer tailored assistance on a creative level, a managerial level or both. Unfortunately, there is a tendency of developing an over-reliance on public funds in order to make projects come to life. 

We would be keen to help creatives develop the skills to become sustainable as a business enterprise (including one-person artist entities) in the long term, through independent constructive criticism and peer review on an artistic level, coupled with good management practices.

How do you hope to create a ‘community’ through your network? And why would this be beneficial to the overall goals of Engage Creatives?

Through #EngageCREATIVES, we are keen to complement the work of the people behind the various Maltese institutions that are dedicating so much time and effort to improving the sector – the Strategy Directorate within Arts Council Malta and the Creative Europe Desk Malta spring to mind. Malta is such a tiny island, with an even smaller creative community. 

As a result, there is an inherent risk of becoming insular in the way creative ideas develop, and in the market size that creatives in Malta tend to target. We feel that by bringing like-minded people to work together and to complement their skill sets, we could be in a better position to assist each other on so many different levels, not only for the personal gain of individual creatives but also to further strengthen the industry within the much wider international perspective, where the real market lives.

How does Malta compare to other ‘cultural ecologies’ that you may be familiar with, and what are some of the weak spots you hope to be able to address?

In recent years, there has been a lot of talk on a global level about the importance of hubs and incubators that assist creative start ups (even if one-person enterprises) to set up their business and to accelerate their growth. Although these do not have a standard format, creatives are always placed at the core of their existence and activities. Through #EngageCREATIVES we are particularly keen on assisting creative students and upcoming artists, and to provide them with the skills that they might need in order to develop a stronger competitive edge on an international level. 

What are the most important things prospective users should know if they want to get on board this service?

Our services range from consultancy in the artistic and managerial aspects of projects developed by established creatives and businesses, to in-house project creation and development commissioned by large entities, to training and mentoring of students and young people. We are urging businesses and creatives to get in touch with us to find common ground for the benefit of the sector, with value-added to business brands, and an opportunity for growth for creatives. Irrespective of who the prospective users are, #EngageCREATIVES is a go-to platform within the creative sector that is open to discuss ideas in a confidential manner when required, and to facilitate connections between Maltese and international entities.

For more information on #EngageCREATIVES, log on to or find them on Facebook: EngageCreatives