Published on Thursday 2 December 2021

A Creative Communications Broker at Arts Council Malta, Eleonora Ruggieri’s role revolves around the dissemination of information about national funding and investment programmes to the cultural and creative sectors via digital media. She also facilitates networking amongst cultural professionals and broker communication with national agencies, ensuring that artists and creatives are up-to-date as regards specific opportunities for exposure and growth offered by ACM. She talks to Kevin Saliba about the benefits of pursuing the Classics, the challenges of learning Maltese, the smell of old books, e-information overloads, social media algorithms and the strategy behind communicating efficiently the Council’s strategy for the next five years.

“One of the greatest benefits of studying the Classics, especially at a young age, is that it helps you organize and sharpen your thinking in virtually any other academic pursuit. It had provided me with a clear head start, I must say,” says Eleonora Ruggieri. I nod unconsciously: partly with admiration, partly with contrition. “What would I not give to read Plato’s Symposium in Ancient Greek and Seneca’s De Brevitate Vitae in Latin?” I ask half-jokingly.

Indeed, the manifold cognitive benefits of pursuing Classical studies have been well-documented. Ruggieri seems to throw in a little more proof. Born in the Urbs Aeterna of Rome, Ruggieri studied Greek and Latin while exploring generally complimentary fields such as literary translation and philosophy. Her curriculum vitae includes Bachelor’s Degree in Modern Languages and Cultures (with an emphasis on Spanish) and a Masters Degree in Public, Political and Institutional Communication from the University of Tuscia as well as a Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing from the Institute of Computer Education here at Żebbug. Sapere aude: a few months after settling in Malta in 2018 she also decided to take on Maltese as a foreign language. “Even though I knew I could get along anyhow I still felt as though I’d be missing out if I didn’t have a go at learning some basic Maltese. I am no fluent speaker by any means, but being able to use and grasp some simple phrases has brought me closer to the locals,” says Ruggieri. “At times it’s been a bumpy road. For us speakers of Latin-based languages mastering Maltese is a tough nut to crack, particularly Semitic verbs. Certain letters are also hard for us to pronounce properly. On the flip side, the seamless lexical blend with Sicilian and Italian elements strikes me as very fascinating,” she says.

Before I really got the chance to point out that Maltese is the only remaining Siculo-Arabic language in the world, the chat turned to her brief internship at University of Tuscia where she worked as an archivist. “Book lovers would definitely benefit from some hands-on working experience in archiving. It has deepened my appreciation of conventional printed books, especially very old books. And not only for reading purposes: I also find they have a certain feel, an alluring smell, don’t you think? I’m all for digital media but digital books will never, to my mind, outweigh paper ones. This is not to say, of course, that electronic media are of no use... like, say, our Zoom transcriber. Technology, eh?” jokes Ruggieri.

Which partly brings us promptly to her present work at the Arts Council Malta. Formerly a Communications Assistant at the Council, Ruggieri now designs and develops social media campaigns, coordinates and issues the ACM monthly newsletter and creates content for its website. She also coordinates the publication of the yearly funding programme and report while organising and promoting the monthly ACMlab events. Currently she also oversees the completion and the eventual dissemination of the Councils Strategy 2025 document. “Reaching people these days entails juggling with many different social media platforms all at once. This can prove disruptive and creates communication issues. Most news feeds are usually typically peppered with a constant stream of everything while statistics keep insisting that most viewers, understandably, have very little time and patience with frequent e-information overloads. Even reasonably visible cultural entities like us can end up, sometimes, left a tad behind or worse overlooked amidst that flux of noise,” admits the Creative Communications Broker.

“Ahimè, brevitate vitae indeed – time’s up.” We switched off our awful transcriber and soon got back – not to Plato or Seneca – but to our own noisy overloads and algorithms with this one timely note: “In a few days we will finally launch our upcoming strategy. It’s crucial that the public now learns about how the Art Council intends to still evolve further while adapting to the still turbulent times ahead. In the end, that’s the leading gist of the Council’s new strategy. That’s why this newsletter is so important now: we must communicate and invite feedback. Having all recent salient news posted to you once a month circa is a fair proposition. It’s more efficient and yet far less invasive. At times less is more. You might also get, luck permitting, to outsmart social media algorithms. Here’s the strategy behind our Strategy, voilà,” suggests Ruggieri.