Valletta 2018’s legacy can be ‘people’s desire to better themselves’ - artists

What comes after Valletta 2018? “In a sense our legacy is a vacuum, an individual’s desire to better themselves” 

Cultural investment should be seen as an essential investment for the future of Malta, said President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca. 

“Investment in the cultural sector is an investment in our values. These values are a powerful embodiment of our aspirations, to create social and political utility, through the effective education of our communities, the implementation of social justice, and a commitment to uphold universal human rights and fundamental freedoms,” she said. 

Coleiro Preca was addressing the fifth edition of the Valletta 2018 annual conference, entitled ‘Sharing The Legacy’, to discuss the legacy the V18 European Capital of Culture will give to Malta. 

“If a legacy is well built, it means that everyone can feel a part of something. In the case of the community it means going beyond our own specific identity, and finding the identity of the community together,” said Anna Gesualdi, co-founder of the theatre company TeatrInGestAzione. 

TeatrInGestAzione created Altofest, one of the key community projects for Valletta 2018, which explored experimental sociality through contemporary live art. Citizens hosted international artists in their house, which then became venues that welcomed audiences for diverse performances.     

“We wanted to leave people with a desire, with a yearning, we didn’t want to leave them with satisfaction but a legacy that moves them and makes them want to go and search for their own satisfaction… in a sense our legacy is a vacuum, an individual’s desire to better themselves,” said Giovanni Trono, one of the organisers of Altofest. 

Gesualdi empathized that Altofest was more than just a book, or an amalgamation of performances but a matter of the imagination. “It’s more than a book, it’s a matter of the imagination, that we realised with the citizens of Malta, a tool which aims to find new words to tell past experiences in order to create a legacy that will always be present.” 

Program coordinator Joanne Attard Mallia reiterated V18’s core theme, which was its legacy and people. “It revolves around the citizens, residents and tourists of Malta, whether they’ve lived here all their lives, whether they come and go, or even if they’ve only been here for a few days. It depends on them to participate, for the project to thrive.” 

Attard Mallia said Valletta 2018 wasn’t without its challenges: she had hoped more artists would have participated, but regardless she deemed the overall project a success. “Even with the challenges we faced, the projects that did succeed, such as the citizen orchestra initiative among others, proved to be powerful.”     

Attard Mallia also highlighted the developments within the Maltese arts since the establishment of the Malta Arts Council in 2002. 

“Malta has come a long way since the inception of the Arts council, with the creation of Malta’s first contemporary dance company, the Manoel Theatre company among other organisations that have emerged. We have introduced master’s degrees at University of Malta, and courses at high school level for those who show an inclination towards the arts, so they can explore the arts deeper without being hindered by conventional educational systems,” said Attard Malia.        

A final report for 2019 by researchers is currently underway to evaluate Valletta 2018 and highlight the effect the project has had on a number of different sectors such as participation at cultural events. 

The report will also evaluate whether the objectives set out by Valletta 2018 have been accomplished, profile the people who attended the events for further research, analysing whether the project impacted upon the cultural sector in terms of employment, and how the project affected Maltese identity.