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 Malta Libraries, 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 of arts organisation should be the legal obligation of the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts. This is expected to change in 2015 with the development of the legal structure for Arts Council Malta.
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. In 2013 local councils hosted 593 cultural events, of which 13.8% were related to cultural visits. Commemoration days, music and non-direct cultural activities also proved to be popular, each contributing 10.1% of the events organised. Other cultural events, including carnivals, arts and fireworks festivals, had the highest share of 18.0%. Closer collaboration is being encouraged between local councils and the Valletta 2018 Foundation since the whole territory of Malta and Gozo is actively participating in Valletta 2018, European Capital of Culture.
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.
Public cultural organisations are increasingly engaging in inter-organisational partnerships through co-productions, joint marketing initiatives, education programmes and shared resources. This approach is having a positive impact on cultural programming, festivals and collaboration with Maltese artists and foreign cultural organisations.