Published on Tuesday 28 December 2021

An EU Projects Associate at Arts Council Malta, Christopher Spiteri’s work entails managing the successful implementation of EU projects awarded to ACM, ensuring that the financial and legal regulations are adhered to and that the project deliverables are achieved on time within budget and at the highest standard. He is responsible for overseeing and managing the public procurement process related to the project implementation, always liaising with the relevant departments and authorities in the process. Spiteri is also continuously active in identifying other EU funded opportunities and in preparing grant proposals in coordination with other project partners. He talks with Kevin Saliba about his lifelong passion for music, his experience and accomplishments as a music student in Milan, his various project management roles at ACM, the math behind all three and the mysterious twists of Fate.

Christopher Spiteri’s career spans across various roles and fields: Manufacturing Engineering, Project Management, Creative Brokering. Nonetheless, first and foremost he is a musician. “When I was very young I started playing at local band clubs, and once I finished my O levels I told my father that I wanted to study music at the Royal Academy of Music in London. But that was not possible as tuition fees were too expensive. Not to mention accommodation expenses,” recalls Christopher Spiteri. “And sadly some twenty-five years ago there weren’t many opportunities for Maltese people in the cultural sector. Thus I had to settle down for second best – namely Maths and Physics – with an eye to work in the engineering industry,” he adds.

He soon found out that working in a factory was not exactly his cup of tea. After a brief spell at STMicroelectronics, he took up a post-graduate research position at University of Malta’s Faculty of Engineering. But old habits die hard. His passion for music came back to haunt him. “I definitely felt more at home working at University. For starters, I got the chance to present my research at various conferences abroad and eventually also worked on EU projects. I guess in some ways Malta joining the European Union was game-changer, especially in terms of cultural prospects. Long story short, within three years I found myself studying music at the prestigious Conservatorio di Musica ‘Giuseppe Verdi’ in Milan after being awarded a full scholarship from the Italian Cultural Institute. During my stay in Italy I received my orchestral training with the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana, Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra and the Academy Orchestra of Teatro alla Scala. Talk about Fate twisting in mysterious ways!” recounts Spiteri with a glee.

Mysterious ways indeed. Spiteri’s experience in working on EU projects during his time at the Faculty – along with his six-year stint in Milan’s cultural scene – proved invaluable later on, particularly upon his return to Malta in 2013. After proving his managerial nous with a leading local EU Funding consultancy firm Spiteri joined Arts Council Malta as Creative Broker. He assisted various project management tasks related to the submission of new ACM proposals for the Creative Europe programme and supported Manoel Theatre’s participation in Creative Europe project ‘European Union Baroque Orchestra’ (EUBO).

In this current EU Project Associate role, Spiteri is now responsible for the development and implementation of ACM’s strategy concerning EU projects while identifying EU funded opportunities and coordinating the preparation of grant proposals. He prepares calls for application for grants awarded through the ESF.04.079 project, disseminates these grants with project partners and administers reimbursement processes. He also assigns responsibilities to the ESF.04.079 project coordination team while managing its overall preparation, implementation and reporting in line with the applicable EU and National rules. In addition, he also reports regularly to the Programme Implementation Directorate regarding the overall ESF project progress and disbursement of funds together with any issues which may affect their successful completion. Furthermore, he oversees all contractual and financial aspects of current projects.

In 2017 Spiteri prepared and submitted a proposal entitled ‘Creative Labs and Artistic Performances in Palestine’. The proposal was funded by the EuropeAid programme and saw Arts Council Malta collaborating with lead partners Al-Harah Theatre (Palestine), ŻiguŻajg International Festival (Malta), Spazju Kreattiv (Malta) and the International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts (IETM, Belgium) to enhance intercultural creative exchange between European and Palestinian cultural leaders, performing artists and their organisations through capacity-building, networking and showcasing. These past 3 years he has been managing a €1M ESF.04.079 project ‘CREATE2020: Investing in cultural and creative capacity skills in Malta’s public sector’. Busy, busy, busy.

As we keep talking over Zoom about everything and anything I can’t help thinking that this guy is quite something. Besides the abovementioned accomplishments, nonetheless, Spiteri’s greatest achievements have so far been arguably in music. As a soloist he premiered locally – accompanied by the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra no less – Arutiunian’s and Plau’s Tuba Concertos. On an international scale, he performed with Teatro alla Scala, Sinfonica di Milano, Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Arena di Verona and Tiroler Festspiele Orchester. He also won the 7th International Edition of the Premio Virtuosité and the Concorso Società Umanitaria in 2008 after being recognised as one of the most promising students from all the Italian conservatoires.

I wonder how he managed to get so much done. Towards the end I ask him, somewhat vaguely, about his foremost inspirations. “Strangely enough, both as a cultural project manager and musician I owe a lot to Maths and Physics. They helped me to stay focused and organised... just like my wife these days,” jokes Spiteri. My word! To think that back in college – after just three weeks, alas – I dropped Math for Dante and Hardy... and my then girlfriend for singing. Perhaps Novalis was indeed on to something: character is Fate.