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Malta/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and civil initiatives  

8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs

The cultural identity of each city and village in Malta and Gozo is shaped by the presence of village band clubs which are also directly connected to the village patron saint and at times also indirectly linked to one of the two main political parties. These band clubs, often housed in the main village square, act as rehearsal spaces for the brass band, formal and informal meeting spaces for the members and organising committees and also act as concert halls for fundraising activities or as part of the society's yearly cultural programme. The clubs are also often transformed into exhibition spaces for nativity cribs during Christmas time and performance spaces for passion plays and exhibition halls for the traditional re-enactment of the Last Supper and miniature Good Friday statues during Easter. In Victoria Gozo, the two village band clubs also double up as opera houses that host the yearly opera performance which, even though belonging to the community, is often referred to as a national event.

In 2008, Band club members stood at 6.4% of the total population aged 5-84 years. 2 543 were resident band members, 1 380 were trainee band players, 1 409 acted as committee members and 24 855 were registered members.

Between 1997 and 2000, the number of young persons who joined musical associations, band clubs, heritage and crafts associations and amateur theatre groups rose by 31.1%, bringing total membership to 6 318, representing 44.7% of children and young persons aged 5-29 years in Malta.

A Cultural Mapping project was launched in 2013 as a research project designed to generate information and analysis on cultural use and practice in public and publicly-accessible spaces in Malta and Gozo. The scope of this project is to create a valuable information database which maps out the cultural use of public and private spaces across the islands. This project will have two deliverables; an interactive online map and an academic publication bringing together academics and specialists from a number of relevant fields. In order to identify the spaces, sites and venues of relevance and their basic tangible qualities, a map of all localities in Malta and Gozo will be drawn up using GIS technology. Data shall include spaces, streets, squares and venues used for a range of cultural activities. This map will be publicly-accessible and can be used by individuals, organisations and policy-makers in the planning of any activities or events. Furthermore, researchers will be able to directly contribute to development of the map by adding layers of data obtained through their own research.

Meanwhile, an analysis of contemporary cultural activity in relation to the use of these spaces shall also be carried out. This analysis is being carried out by a University of Malta Working Group comprised of academics from the fields of Education, Sociology, Public Policy, Anthropology, Built Environment, and Economics.

This tool will allow the Valletta 18 Foundation to address challenges in the artistic and cultural sectors through an assessment of the cultural infrastructure across the country. Cultural mapping is one way in which the Foundation plans to leave behind a sustainable and long lasting heritage; future teams in cultural management will be provided with a digital tool with which to make informed decisions about venues, cultural practices, regeneration of various localities and the needs of local cultural industries.

Chapter published: 12-08-2015

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