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Malta/ 2. General objectives and principles of cultural policy  

2.1 Main features of the current cultural policy model

The Ministry responsible for Culture, through its Private Secretariat and the Culture Directorate, directs cultural policy development and the cultural heritage strategy via arms-length institutions such as the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and Arts Council Malta. In recent years, decentralisation of responsibility for culture has become a priority; however, major cultural festivals are still managed and created by centralised entities such as Arts Council Malta, St. James Cavalier and Teatru Manoel. From 2005, certain government funded events such as the Malta Jazz Festival and large-scale concerts were subcontracted to private companies, however due to the excessive commercialisation of these events and poor artistic direction, these festivals once again returned to the public sector.

Moves have been made to involve local councils in a proactive way. Proposals have been introduced on new legislation that would empower the local councils to take a more definitive role in cultural affairs. As part of the measures being undertaken by central government for the development of sustainable localities, a fund amounting to EUR 250 000 has been allocated yearly to assist Local Councils in the implementation of events held throughout the year.

The arms-length model first proposed in the cultural policy document of August 2001 (updated 2002) was implemented through the establishment of the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and Heritage Malta. The rate of development in public cultural heritage organisations has created clear distinctions between the regulatory role of cultural heritage and the management of historical sites and museums. This distinction is now being created within Arts Council Malta through the establishment of two distinctive directorates: one responsible for the strategic development of the cultural and creative sectors and the other responsible for the current portfolio of festivals.

The National Cultural policy reinforces the arms-length principle whilst also reflecting the need to improve cultural governance structures.

In the cultural governance framework, the ministry responsible for culture shall lead in:

  • the provision of policy, direction and advice on the arts, heritage, and audiovisual sectors (film, broadcasting and the media), in particular on issues affecting their cultural and creative content, as determined through consultation, including legislation, major policy proposals, and incentives and initiatives which have an impact on the sector;
  • the management and disbursement of funds to a number of arts, heritage and broadcasting organisations, and the monitoring of government and public interest in these organisations;
  • overseeing all aspects relating to tangible and intangible cultural heritage management; regulating issues pertaining to protection, conservation, exhibition and appreciation of heritage, including its accessibility through traditional, innovative and online means;
  • the provision of other negotiated services, including the preparation of contributions for public debate and discussion, the commissioning of studies and services, and, where relevant, the administration of incentives, grants and programmes which assist the Minister in discharging the Ministry’s portfolio obligations to Parliament; and
  • liaising with the relevant entities to ensure optimal communication, promotion, and dissemination of information and awareness about Malta’s culture.

Relevant key policy actions for Malta’s governance model:

  • to ensure the implementation of the arm's length principle, government shall establish transparent, publicly-known criteria for the selection of key decision-makers in public cultural organisations;
  • the legal status of the key national entities operating in the fields of the arts, heritage, and audiovisual sectors needs to be clarified and amended where necessary, with a view to avoiding unnecessary overlaps, strengthening and maximising synergies and resources;
  • develop creativity-oriented national strategies for the arts, heritage, architecture and audiovisual sectors, including appropriate funding schemes and support programmes, while ensuring that quality assurance, transparency and accountability principles are adhered to at all stages. In relation to cultural heritage, the current National Strategy for Cultural Heritage (published in December 2006) shall be assessed and its impact evaluated. A review of this Strategy, incorporating Libraries and Archives, shall be made in line with evaluation conclusions and with the emerging needs for the sector. For audiovisuals, the national strategy shall incorporate broadcasting, new media, creative content online, film and cinema; and
  • maximising investments in culture with a view to:
    • improving management structures for government-managed organisations, venues, sites, collections and projects;
    • improving the education and training facilities related to cultural management and heritage conservation;
    • synergising efforts with the tourism authorities in areas of common interest and mutual benefit;
    • improving and extending the use of IT tools in cultural management and in the dissemination of knowledge, including the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material, through synergies with IT stakeholders; and
    • accessing and benefiting from European and international funding support and networks, with an emphasis on collaborations with Mediterranean partners.

Chapter published: 12-08-2015

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