Only 37 per cent of theatres in Malta and Gozo are public; the majority – 45 per cent - belong to the Church, while 18 per cent are privately owned.
These are some of the key findings published in Spazji Teatrali, A Catalogue of Theatres in Malta and Gozo, a catalogue of 78 theatre spaces, which was commissioned by Arts Council Malta and implemented by the Valletta 2018 Foundation. The book was co-authored by Prof Vicki Ann Cremona, Dr. Spec. Ruben Paul Borg, Ing Keith Chetcuti and Sean Buhagiar.
The catalogue lists and describes the physical characteristics and technical equipment of many venues across the Maltese islands that can be used to host theatrical or musical productions. The result is a wide-ranging and comprehensive profile for most venues, running the gamut from well-known spaces to hidden gems.
This study aims to provide the culture sector with valuable informational resources about the spaces available within each locality, as well as the use of these same spaces in contemporary cultural activity.
Addressing the launch, Culture Minister Owen Bonnici said that theatre is very much a part of Maltese culture and tradition. “Four years ago, the Government presented a roadmap that put culture at the centre of its work and, over these last years, the country has witnessed four years of firsts - such as the launch of Teatru Malta: the first time that the country has a national theatre organisation that is not bound to one theatre but rather whose role it is to bring new life to theatre in villages and towns around Malta and Gozo.”
The audit of theatre spaces round Malta and Gozo, pledged by the Government in its 2017 budget, was also another first for the country, said Dr Bonnici. “This is another building block in the work done by the Government to give culture its due importance and create a legacy for present and future generations. Such work includes the infrastructural projects as part of Valletta 2018, new and renewed programmes by Arts Council Malta, restoration of heritage sites across the Maltese islands and much more.”
The launch of the catalogue is being followed by Tour Teatru Tazza Te, a series of tours organised by Teatru Malta, the newly-founded national theatre company, and Arts Council Malta and supported by the Valletta 2018 Foundation. The tours will run between April and July 2017. These tours, which will further showcase and explore some of the lesser-known theatres included in the audit, are expected to be of interest to theatre producers and directors who will also have the opportunity to talk about theatre with Teatru Malta representatives. Those registering for the whole tour are being offered free transport.
The catalogue is a result of the Theatres Audit project, which is one of the three core components of the Valletta 2018 Foundation Cultural Mapping Programme.
“This study, which was begun through the Cultural Mapping project and which led to the mapping of the cultural spaces, to the audit of the theatres in Malta and Gozo and to the publication of this information in a catalogue is part of the legacy of Valletta 2018,” said Valletta 2018 Foundation chairman Jason Micallef. “The catalogue starts off with information on theatres in Gozo and includes information on 78 theatres around the two islands. I urge the public to make use of this information which is online on valletta2018.org.”
The project, commissioned by Arts Council Malta, forms part of the Council’s research and community strategic actions as outlined in its Create 2020 strategy. “By showcasing a number of community theatres which form part of Malta’s vast theatre ecology, we invite the theatre owners as well as creative practitioners to start a conversation which can help the creative sector to professionalise and grow further,” added Arts Council Malta chair Albert Marshall.
The launch of the catalogue was followed by a preview of Teatru Malta’s new brand which can be seen on www.teatrumalta.org.mt. The catalogue launch and event form part of Viva t-Teatru, a series of events celebrating World Theatre Day, organised by Teatru Malta and Arts Council Malta.
As part of this programme, a two-day informal forum on current issues in Maltese theatre, entitled Taħdita Teatru, is being organised on 25 and 26 March as a platform for debate on the remit of Teatru Malta. Also part of the programme is Manoel, Iftaħli, a series of free one-hour tours of Teatru Manoel on 26 and 27 March. These tours are being organised in collaboration with Teatru Manoel.
Photo by: Jonathan Borg