Apart from governmental bi-lateral agreements, trans-national co-operation is activated through several channels, including local authorities and other institutions like Arts Council Malta, the University of Malta, the Manoel Theatre, St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Heritage Malta, the Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti (Foundation for Maltese Patrimony) and an increasing number of NGOs. Such institutions are often engaged in trans-national events supported either by direct state funding or the intervention of sponsors, or both.
One of Heritage Malta’s aims is to foster European and international relationships with other parties that share similar objectives in the area of cultural heritage and conservation practice.
Heritage Malta is actively participating in a number of international collaborations under different EU funding programmes managed by the European institutions. They vary in content and objectives, depending on the nature of the programme or projects involved. Due to its wide remit within the cultural heritage and conservation sector, Heritage Malta is always looking forward to new possibilities in partnering with other participating parties from various countries.
Conservation projects also attract foreign partnership or local private sponsorship, e.g. the complete restoration of one of Valletta’s earliest Churches by an Italian Foundation and the restoration of the Manoel Theatre (built in 1742) by an Italian team of experts from the Sante Guido Restauri, sponsored by the Malta International Airport.
St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity is at the forefront of international artistic cooperation in Malta. As part of its creativity development programme it has established an artists’ residency exchange programme with the Virginia Centre for Creative Arts in the USA. Other international cooperation projects include film festivals, exhibitions and performances in collaboration with ten different Embassies and cultural agencies. St. James Cavalier is also actively seeking partners for European projects. St. James Cavalier is also part of the Europa Cinema network, European Arthouse exhibitor network, and is founder of the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young people in Malta and a member of a Euro-med network to facilitate the mobility of volunteers in cultural organisations. St. James Cavalier was also National Coordinating Body for the 2008 European Year for Intercultural Dialogue which sought active collaboration with all EU member states and diverse cultural communities in Malta. St. James Cavalier also leads and manages two important international arts festivals: Ziguzajg International Arts Festival for Children and Young People established in 2011 and VIVA established in 2014 (Valletta International Visual Arts Festival). Both festivals programme international works and facilitate international cooperation.
Apart from hosting international work, the Manoel Theatre has reached an agreement with the Prague National Theatre, which saw the exchange of productions, artists and practices between the two countries. The agreement also included the organisation of joint activities and the development of a common policy of theatre as a tool of brotherhood between countries. In 2012, Teatru Manoel founded the Valletta International Baroque Festival which, amongst its eclectic programme, includes co-productions between the theatre and other major festivals and cultural organisations specialised in Baroque art.
A number of cultural NGOs are increasingly engaging in international projects and establishing yearly activities at a national and regional level. Inizjamed is a cultural NGO with very active participation in transnational cultural cooperation. Inizjamed is also responsible for Malta’s participation in the Biennale of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean and organises a Mediterranean Literature Festival with the participation of a host of writers from the Mediterranean region.
Kinemastik is an NGO responsible for a year-round cultural programme based around screenings, talks, exhibitions and concerts that culminates with the Kinemastik International Short Film Festival. The festival is held over several days in August at various venues around Malta. The highlight of the festival is the Westside Selekt weekend, open-air screenings held on the Valletta and Floriana bastions overlooking the Grand Harbour. Kinemastik collaborates with international festivals and filmmakers to bring to Malta a selection of films and directors to experience Malta and meet local residents.
Kinemastik seeks to link young film makers in Malta to the world of cinema and provide them with a platform for their work, through local screenings as well as through worldwide distribution of locally produced work. Kinemastik has also hosted a number of international filmmakers and professionals to provide master classes and workshops for local industry.
Another active cultural voluntary organization is Wicked Comics that was established to promote comic culture both in Malta and abroad. Wicked Comics gives Maltese comic artists and enthusiasts the opportunity to learn more about this component of popular culture and continuously provides opportunities for local artists to showcase their skills with an increased emphasis on international collaboration.
While bilateral cultural agreements are a mainstay of official policy with many countries, a lack of adequate funds often inhibits more significant bilateral cooperation. At times, the financial burden of co-funding measures for EU cultural projects is discouraging Maltese organisations to embark on large-scale projects. However, the small yet successful number of international projects created by active Maltese cultural organisations offers an encouraging future for their international portfolio. Also, some of the most successful and important international creative projects in Malta were initiated by freelance artists.
In 2011, the MCCA launched a Mobility Support Grant programme as part of its International Funding Strategy. It is a strand that caters for outgoing artistic mobility for short training courses, workshops, participation in artistic activities overseas, and international collaboration. The Mobility Support Grant has a total allocation of EUR 60 000.
In 2014, Valletta 2018 Foundation, in collaboration with Ziguzajg Arts Festival and St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, launched the Malta Showcase (http://www.maltashowcase.com). The export platform is a curated portfolio of Maltese repertoire which is available for programming by festivals, theatres or cultural organisations internationally. It will maximise the potential and increase the reputation of contemporary Maltese performers. Malta Showcase is aimed at, but not restricted to, international commissioning bodies; arts programmers, festival directors, artistic directors, other ECoCs and Maltese diplomatic representations overseas.