Over the past few months, ACM has been busy designing its 2021-2025 Strategy, which by its conclusion will see to the implementation of Malta’s cultural policy. It is within this dynamic that Ms Falzon, who previously occupied the positions of Fund Coordinator and Senior Fund Executive within the same unit, took on the role of Head of Funding during the second quarter of 2021.
“We’re in a very interesting period right now,” Ms Falzon states, “as ACM is currently strategising its plan of action to develop and grow Malta’s culture and creative sectors for the next five years. This is also happening in view of the present and forthcoming challenging times.”
As Head of Funding, Ms Falzon is managing a diligent team, each of whom is responsible for specific tasks including the publication of funding guidelines and calendars; the vetting of applications; the scheduling and coordinating of pitching and evaluations sessions; the issuing of results, agreements and disbursements; and the monitoring of projects and reviewing of reports. All this while ensuring that deadlines are met with efficiency and ethos.
“The culture and creative sectors were not spared from the pandemic; in fact, they were among the hardest-hit,” Ms Falzon continues. “Many projects had to be terminated, while others had to be re-adapted or redesigned. The Council is constantly busy with identifying ways and means to support the specific needs of the artists while routine work continues unabated to guarantee success.”
The funding team, with Ms Falzon at its helm, is currently working on the RESTART schemes. The RESTART schemes during 2021 consist of specific plans that aim to provide support to the culture and creative sectors during the critical times of the pandemic. The amount allocated to the RESTART schemes in 2021 is of €5.62 million, which are being disbursed to artists and organisations following an evaluation process in response to a number of competitive calls.
“It is a priority that all members of the funding team have access to the right tools so as to operate successfully and efficiently in the processing and disbursement of financial support across the creative and cultural sectors. We all work together to ensure this goal is achieved, and the fact that we are a small, but diverse team helps bring new perspectives and ideas into the fold.”
Part of the plan to make funding more seamless for applicants while lessening the workload on the team has been to go digital. Thus, as we write this, a type of software is being developed to allow applicants to submit their requests online, after which these are then evaluated and processed online. The aim is to become more user-friendly and time-efficient overall.
“Our work is deadline-based, with each call having a two-month process attached to it. The pandemic has also affected deadlines, as both new calls and existing projects had to be resynchronised. But this comes with the package as a Funding Unit, and while unexpected events such as these change the way work is carried out, adapting in a timely manner to support the sector stay afloat and recuperate faster is of prime importance.”
While Ms Falzon’s new title does indeed come with responsibility, she affirms that it also comes with loads of fulfillment which makes the challenges ‘worth dealing with’. Nevertheless, it still takes up the majority of her day, and following a Master’s in Creativity and Innovation, she is taking a break from studying to focus on her new role.
“Meeting deadlines is a must at work, as is ensuring that everyone, including myself, is doing the work that needs to be done for our strategies to be successful. But I also believe in balance, which is why, when I’m not at work, I spend a lot of time with my husband and our seven-year-old son, Jacob, which gives me a sense of completeness.”
At ACM, we wish Ms Falzon every success in her new role, and remind readers to regularly check the Funds & Opportunities section on artscouncil.mt for new opportunities.
Photo credit: Elisa von Brockdorff.