Published on Tuesday 13 October 2020

A new Head of Strategy has been announced by Arts Council Malta. The appointment sees Mr Adrian Debattista, who has held the role of Research Associate within ACM over the past years, take over responsibility for the implementation and monitoring of Malta’s culture strategy supporting all cultural and creative sectors.

The appointment comes as cultural policy in Malta is in a transitional stage, with the 2015-2020 Strategy reaching its final phases and the new incumbent overseeing the completion of the current action plan before kick-starting the upcoming five-year plan. As part of his role, Mr Debattista will oversee the design, management and evaluation of the 2021 – 2025 strategic plans and frameworks developed by the ACM strategy team.

“I am very excited to play such a pivotal role in the future of Malta’s cultural policy, working as part of the Funding and Strategy Directorate,” Mr Debattista said. “The position includes the management of strategic initiatives and programmes falling under research, internationalisation, community cultural exchange, education, training and creative entrepreneurship, and my experience working within Arts Council Malta has already afforded me unique knowledge of the state-of-play of the industry. This is a knowledge that I intend to put to good use in my new role.”

Mr Debattista’s appointment comes at a crucial time when the cultural sector in Malta and everywhere around the world is facing unprecedented challenges due to the global pandemic. The first two years of the new culture strategy is in fact expected to be heavily affected by COVID-19 realities, as culture practitioners and artists adjust to the ever-shifting situation.

“Our next strategic phase will undoubtedly be informed by this new reality that is emerging around us. Certain sectors – such as internationalisation – will be impacted more heavily than others, but COVID-19 considerations will be substantial when the next strategic platform is initiated. The focus on the digital presence will no longer be peripheral, as alternative means of show-casing art will be strengthened, the economic impact on the sector analysed and a way forward identified,” Mr Debattista said.

With continuously shifting parameters, the new Head of Strategy emphasizes the importance of flexibility, adding that the present structure of funding programmes and strategic initiatives will undergo a rethinking, in order that new opportunities may be identified and logistical challenges brought about by COVID-19 defeated.

“Arts Council Malta is closing its current five-year strategy and is amidst the multifaceted process of consulting the relevant stakeholders and weaving Strategy 2021-2025. Upon reviewing and evaluating the key requirements to implement the plan, ACM determined that a new role, Head of Strategy, specifically dedicated towards overseeing the process was essential. Mr Debattista proved to be the ideal candidate for such a role which requires both a specific skill set as well as a portfolio of knowledge with expertise. There is no doubt that Adrian is an asset to ACM, the Strategy and the creative and culture sectors at large,” said Mary Ann Cauchi, Director Funding and Strategy at ACM.

Mr Debattista joined Arts Council Malta in 2015 as Research Associate and has worked on and coordinated research and evaluation projects with various stakeholders from the cultural sector, academia and public entities. He holds a Masters Degree in Cultural Policy from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, and is currently reading for a PhD in Cultural Policy at the same university as a part-time student following an awarded scholarship under the Ministry of Education’s Tertiary Education Scholarship Scheme.

He has also recently been elected as a board member on the Association of the Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends, a project that was originally steered by the Council of Europe to review cultural policy standards across countries within the EU and to generate and update country profiles.

In his personal life, Mr Debattista also takes a keen interest in alternative music and hip-hop, with his current PhD studies focusing on an analysis of how cultural policy in Malta constructs and acknowledges Malta's music scenes while comparing with the interpreted realities of individuals involved in the scenes. 

Photo credit: Elisa von Brockdorff.