7.3 Status and partnerships of public cultural institutions
The government has traditionally been responsible for national cultural institutions. They receive regular funding as approved annually by Parliament on the recommendations of the Ministry of Finance. Such national institutions include: Teatru Manoel, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, Heritage Malta, the National Library, the National Archives and St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity. Not all organisations have a legal status and the Ministry responsible for Culture monitors operations at arm's length, although monitoring for arts organisations should be the legal obligation of the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts.
The Church continues to maintain a relatively high profile in the cultural sphere, not least by promoting events, which vary in range from high calibre baroque musical events, to the provision of space and technical equipment, to small groups representing independent organisations.
There is also an increasing amount of private companies in the sectors of music, dance, theatre, opera and light entertainment, which are participating in the programmes of public cultural institutions. For instance, the programmes of the Manoel Theatre, St. James Cavalier Creativity Centre and the Mediterranean Conference Centre are based on a mixture of their own productions and a range of activities presented by private companies. The Manoel Theatre relies almost exclusively on private companies for its repertoire, as it does not have its own residential company.
Private schools offering classical ballet, dancing and drama are self-reliant and receive no assistance from the central government. Semi-autonomous organisations like the Kooperativa Kulturali Universita carry out yearly programmes and festivals addressed mostly to young audiences, and often manage to establish artistic collaboration with foreign bodies.
Local councils are also increasing their engagement in cultural and social activities and data has started to become available as regards funds, audience participation and content of events. Their focus appears to be mainly on the preservation of heritage and traditions, but cultural activities are becoming more varied. Statistics issued for 2006 showed that, during the previous year, there were 1 149 activities organised by local councils in Malta and Gozo (representing an increase of 21.3% over 2004). In 2005, cultural activities organised by the Local councils represented 21.1% of all total events. In the same year, participation increased by an impressive 66.7%, amounting to 118 038 persons. Of the 68 Local councils operating in the Maltese Islands, half mounted various exhibitions, with painting, ceramics and craft shows attracting most attention.
The Ministry for Gozo, an autonomous institution relating to the sister island, produces its own mix of entertainment, ranging from heritage events, elaborate festivals and opera produced by two leading clubs, both situated in Victoria, the island's historical capital. Since 2004, Gozo started organising its own summer festival.
Moreover, St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity adopts an open-door policy for collaboration with Maltese artists, foreign cultural organisations and artists to facilitate trans-national cultural cooperation.
The Church has also been effective in materialising religious-culture projects. In 2005, the St. John's co-Cathedral Foundation and the Metropolitan Cathedral Chapter of Mdina introduced an annual international sacred music festival in collaboration with the Embassies of the United States of America, France, Italy and Austria. The festival features a number of concerts per week, with the intention of "bringing out the beauty and spiritual message found in the best of sacred music."