In a present reality where political unrest looms over the continent and the rest of the world, the spirit of reunion taken up by this cultural programme is a much needed breath of fresh air. Culture is a single thread in different hues; uniting people from all walks of life, across nations, genders, age groups and class, in one melting pot of diversity and togetherness. Beauty, symbolised in art and artistic expression, draws out human sensitivity, tearing down walls and breaking barriers, reminding us that in our unique individuality, we are still not so very different from each other.
“The citizen is right at the centre of the 2017 Maltese EU Presidency, and this is reflected in the multidisciplinary nature of its varied cultural programme, with over 90 different events set to take place across the Maltese Islands, in the central hub of Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg, and across the globe,” commented Ian Borg.
The Official Opening Ceremony of the 2017 Maltese EU Presidency is scheduled for the 11th January and will take place at the Mediterranean Conference Centre. ‘BAHR’, a newly commissioned work for the Presidency, explores migration in all its forms, and its dialogue with movement, encounters, challenges and possibilities. It is about the very human experience at the core of this issue, which is so close to the heart of the 2017 Maltese EU Presidency. ‘BAHR’ will be performed by the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Mro. Brian Schembri, who will accompany national dance ensemble ŻfinMalta in Mavin Khoo’s interpretation of Albert Garzia’s original music score composed for the occasion.
The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, under Mro. Brian Schembri’s direction, will also be accompanying world-renowned Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja, in the concert set to herald in the 2017 Maltese EU Presidency on 16th January at the BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. The concert will feature classical masterpieces written by great composers, including three Maltese greats, Charles Camilleri, Carlo Diacono and Joseph Vella.
The cultural programme will then take flight, with events coming from several different disciplines populating each of the six months from January to June 2017. Visual arts, performing arts, design, architecture, literature, film and cultural heritage are among the different disciplines which make up this colourful cultural programme, which will feature both well-established and up-and-coming artists, both Maltese and from other European Member States.
In the spirit of rEUnion, the 2017 Maltese EU Presidency cultural programme encourages the participation of citizens, with several projects depending directly on the citizen’s involvement. Among these are the Presents of the Future project, which encourages people from all walks of life to participate in workshops where they can discuss and share their own personal takes on possible future realities for Malta, Europe and the EU, and the Citizen Journalist project, where participants get the chance to live and work in Brussels for a period of time. Beehive is another interesting participatory experience which will provide a platform on which European citizens can upload content – both raw and edited – in one shared creative space.
Apart from featuring the citizen as well as the artist in a variety of spaces, the 2017 Maltese EU Presidency cultural programme also features the Maltese Islands and different aspects which make up their geographical, historical, anthropological and social realities. Among the most interesting events centred on the Maltese Islands, is the three-month exhibition Malta – Land of Sea, curated by Sandro Debono at the BOZAR Centre for Fine arts. The exhibition seeks to disrupt and reinterpret our linear view of chronology, creating a dialogue between artefacts, spaces and visitors, and expressing the way in which our history and our interaction with so many different conquerors have shaped our culture and our present reality.
The 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union has collaborated closely with the Presidency Cultural Programme Working Group led by Arts Council Malta in collaboration with Heritage Malta and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Valletta 2018 Foundation is also partnering in the events presented in Malta. The artistic director of the Cultural Programme is Mr. Airan Berg. The full cultural programme can be found on the official culture website for the 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union: reunion.org.mt.