Published on Wednesday 22 February 2017

By June 2017 around 1,000 artists, both new and established, both students and professionals, will have left our islands to represent Malta through their artistic works, all through the Cultural Programme of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union

By June 2017 around 1,000 artists, both established and new in the industry, students and professionals, would have left our islands to represent Malta through their artistic works and without a doubt the response has been fruitful, at times even more than expected.

Following the recent developments with the European Union and Brexit, the Presidency opted for rEUnion A Citizen’s Europe as the tagline for the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The Cultural Programme was kickstarted on 11 January with the Official Opening in Malta with a first-time collaboration between the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and ŻfinMalta to produce the work entitled BAĦR.

The three Cultural Programmes are the Local Programme, the Brussels Programme and the External Programme (implemented and managed by the Malta Foreign Affairs).

The External Programme will tour a majority of countries around the world, both inside and outside the European Union, where Malta holds a Diplomatic Representation. All in all, the External Programme includes around 23 different projects in 30 different countries, ranging from visual art exhibitions, dance, music and literature. The majority of the projects chosen are from the 2016-2017 Malta Showcase Edition, which was launched specifically through an open call for the Presidency Cultural Programme. Apart from these, a project entitled In Transit, a digital arts project, will also tour in two different countries: Leeuwarden in the Netherlands and Dusseldorf in Germany.

The Cultural Programme in Brussels is more of a European-institution-based project hosting a majority of exhibitions. This excludes projects at the BOZAR, the venue for two of the major events: the official opening ceremony which was held in January and the exhibition Malta. Land of Sea. It also excludes Neumunster Abbeye in Luxembourg, a venue which will hold a vast array of artistic projects throughout March to celebrate the Maltese Presidency. Two interesting projects based in Brussels are Ilma u Melħ and the Citizen Journalists Project at the Justus Lipsius. Citizen Journalists will be conversing with citizens about the European Union and their relationship and thoughts about the European Union.

Planning for the local programme took a different turn as the present festivals happening from January to June provided the skeleton programme for the EU Presidency Cultural Programme. The artistic director of the EU Presidency Cultural Programme worked hand in hand with the artistic directors of all the relevant local festivals in order to produce an event directly linked with the Presidency agenda and still in line with the vision of the respective festivals. The citizen project Ode to Joy A Citizen’s Orchestra is expected to be one of the highlights of the local programme, where citizens from all backgrounds will join together to produce an unrepeatable performance of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. Apart from all the present festivals, the programme is also merged with the Valletta 2018 events programme.

The Cultural Programme for the Maltese Presidency was devised by the Presidency Working Group which included representatives from the Presidency Unit, Arts Council Malta, Malta Foreign Affairs, Heritage Malta and the artistic director Airan Berg.

The pic shows 'BAHR' by ŻfinMalta.

Photo by Mario Casha.