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Malta/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends

The main developments in transnational cultural cooperation since 2002 have mainly been attached to programmes and initiatives of the European Union. From 2015 on the new Creative Europe programme will be hosted by Arts Council Malta.

Malta has 36 cultural agreements, however only few are ratified or implemented due to financial limitations or lack of human resources.

In 2004, together with the other 34 Member States, Malta became a partner of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for Dialogue between Cultures. The Mediterranean Institute, within the University of Malta, acts as the Head of the Maltese National Network. To date, few Maltese organisations have managed to capitalise on cultural cooperation programmes offered by the Foundation.

On the 18 December 2006, Malta deposited its ratification instruments of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The Convention consecrates the role of culture as an actor in development (Article 13), mobilises civil society to achieve its goals (Article 11), and places international solidarity at the heart of its mechanism (Articles 12 to 19), by including the creation of an international fund for cultural diversity (Article 18). It also highlights "the importance of intellectual property rights in sustaining those involved in cultural creativity" and reaffirms that "freedom of thought, expression and information, as well as diversity of the media, enable cultural expressions to flourish within societies."

In 2007, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs announced Malta's intention to play a more active role in the relationship between the European Union and the Arab League.  

The implementation and development of transnational cultural cooperation projects through government initiative is often delegated to its cultural agencies, Foundations, private organisations or NGOs. Foreign representations and cultural centres in Malta also make use of the services and expertise of these cultural organisations to establish international partnerships between Maltese cultural stakeholders and their partners in the respective countries. 

One area of concern has been the large influx of irregular migrants from Africa to Malta, largely via Libya. The unprecedented traffic unfortunately gave rise to harsh, widespread sentiments of racism and xenophobia, which are openly expressed in the public domain and the media. Following pressure from the media and academics, the government amended the Criminal Code in 2006 to increase punishment for crimes against race and religion. These issues have been rigorously addressed during the 2007 European Year for Equal Opportunities and international collaboration to address these issues were also part of the National strategy for the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.

In 2014, the Malta Showcase was launched as a curated portfolio of Maltese repertoire to maximise the potential and increase the reputation of contemporary Maltese performers abroad (see also chapter 3.4.4). Initiatives towards exporting Maltese work and encouraging international cultural cooperation were further enhanced with the announcement of the Creative Export Fund for 2015.

Relevant Key Actions from the National Cultural Policy

  • develop cultural diplomacy, through the setting up of an arms length governance body as a strategic vehicle for international relations with its diplomatic counterpart and engagement with the Maltese diaspora, to create opportunities through collaboration and participation;
  • establish a structured network, led by the above-mentioned body which brings together the national cultural agencies and the representatives of international cultural organizations in Malta to develop cooperation projects and cultural exchanges, support the mobility of artists, cultural workers and collections, and support projects by SMEs, NGOs and individuals in the cultural and creative sector;
  • streamline funding channels aimed at the promotion of Maltese cultures in the international scenario and at the exposure to international practices, courses and training whilst ensuring that the benefits from existing resources such as the Malta Arts Fund and the Malta Film Fund are maximized in a strategically meaningful and accountable manner;
  • ensure full and active participation in the key international cultural fora, especially those led by the Council of Europe and the United Nations (UNESCO) and screen the ratification and implementation of relevant international conventions and agreements; and
  • establish a cultural ambassador scheme, based on the principles of excellence and innovation in the respective field of activity, to promote new meritorious talent in Malta and internationally.

Chapter published: 12-08-2015

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