8.4.1 Amateur arts and folk culture
Although there is increased recognition of the professional status of employment in the cultural sector, the majority of artists in Malta still operate on a relatively amateur or semi-professional level. However, in Malta, semi-professional work, even though it is mainly created as an after-work activity, is perceived differently from community art or cultural activity in the community that is embedded in the identity of each town.
Malta has a long tradition of amateur cultural groups and associations, originally connected to Church-run parish centres and band-clubs. After political Independence in 1964, this activity proliferated, especially after the creation of the Movement for the Promotion of Literature (1967), a front that set the pace for new-wave thinking in devising popular cultural activities.
There exists no official Amateur Arts policy in Malta, but the government regards such activity of immense socio-cultural importance. Certain village clubs and cultural associations receive ad-hoc financial support from the government through the National Lottery Good cause fund.
All towns and villages have their own array of cultural associations, which can range from historical societies to theatre groups. The cultural landscape is further enhanced by "friendship societies". These structures run on a voluntary basis, which promote cultural connections between Maltese and foreign counterparts in the fields of painting, music, dance and other areas, which sometimes include theatre. Other friendship societies, with interest limited to the local scene, are active in the field of heritage (e.g. Friends of the Cathedral Museum, Friends of the Museum of Fine Arts) and theatre (e.g. Friends of the Manoel Theatre) (see chapter 8.2.1 for cultural participation trends).