Report creation date: 14.10.2008 - 10:57
Countr(y/ies): Malta
Chapter(s): 1,2,21,22,23,24,241,242,243,244,245,246,3,31,32,33,4,41,42,421,422,423,424,425,426,427,428,429,4210,43,5,51,511,512,513,514,515,516,517,518,519,52,53,531,532,533,534,535,536,537,538,539,5310,6,61,62,63,64,7,71,72,73,8,81,811,812,813,82,821,822,83,831,832,84,841,842,9,91,92

Malta/ 1. Historical perspective: cultural policies and instruments

Cultural activity in Malta has been shaped by political, ecclesiastical, educational or family privilege and influence. Throughout the centuries, the country was occupied by a succession of foreign powers, with one of the results being a struggle for the diffusion of culture and traditions, including a battle over the question of the Maltese language. For example, in the first half of the 1900s, the Istituto Italiano di Cultura and the British Institute became antagonists, meshed in a cultural battle for political influence and control. The Italian lobby campaigned for the Italian language to be adopted by the cultured elite, including the professional class, and for it to be used in all official documents and legal codes, including the Constitution. On the other side, British colonial authorities supported the use of Maltese to counteract the Italian influence and backed up Maltese writers who played a key role in the fight for the Maltese culture and language. World War II secured Malta's alliance with the British against the Italian-German axis.

A massive cultural renewal in the 1960s was led by a new generation of writers and intellectuals and had significant effects in the fields of literature, theatre, the visual arts and music. Malta's traditional hierarchical models were challenged and classical and romantic approaches were abandoned. Cultural objectives were being articulated by the young intellectuals and taken up for debate in the media. There was also a significant shift towards local production on television and radio. As there was still no official cultural policy at the beginning of the 1960s, responsibility for culture formed part of the portfolios of various Ministers, including those responsible for Education, Foreign Affairs and Justice.

Malta's proclamation of political independence from Britain in 1964 heralded in new concepts for the democratisation of culture, mirroring developments in other countries. In 1965, Malta became a member of the Council of Europe, at a time when the country started to diversify its economy from a military to a service and a market-oriented model. Within such a context, cultural heritage emerged as a crucially important asset. Cultural policy finally gained its own profile when a Minister for Education, Culture and Tourism was appointed after the first elections in 1966.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the two main political parties, the Nationalist Party (NP) and the Malta Labour Party (MLP), began including cultural policy in their electoral programmes. In 1971, the NP pledged to support culture through the creation of an Arts Council. In 1976, they promised to recognise artists and intellectuals as catalysts in the life of the nation. The NP also promised to "extend facilities to the whole people" and to "intensify cultural exchange with other countries". The pledge to construct a National Arts Council was made again in the NP electoral manifestos of 1987, 1992 and 1996 and the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts (MCCA) was actually created in 2002, after an Act of Parliament. In the 1990s, it became the declared policy of the Nationalist Party to review culture "not as the privilege of an elite few, but as the dynamic heritage of the whole people."

The Malta Labour Party also articulated its cultural objectives pointedly in the early seventies and appointed a Minister for Education and Culture in 1971 when it assumed power. In its 1976 electoral programme, the MLP dedicated a whole chapter (IV) to "the intellectual and moral aspect of culture to combat materialism". Linking education and culture inextricably, the party also declared that culture should be an instrument to accelerate the socio-economic needs of the Maltese islands. At the beginning of the 1980s, the MLP emphasised culture as a source of identity and stressed the "democratisation of culture and the arts". In the 1990s, the Labour programme stressed the promotion of culture among children and young people, the role of the media in promoting authentic cultural values and the role of culture to promote Malta's international image, especially within a Mediterranean framework.

In 1993, the Ministry responsible for culture (under a Nationalist Party government) commissioned the first comprehensive survey relating to cultural activity in Malta which resulted in the publication, "A Cultural Assessment of the Nation". This report endorsed the fact that cultural trends are mainly influenced by the media in its multiple forms and that traditional entertainment (e.g. village bands, folk festivals) remains active and important. It also emphasised the active role of NGOs in traditional cultural activities.

In 2001, the Ministry of Education, which at the time had Culture and the Arts as part of its portfolio, published a public consultation document to establish a cultural policy for Malta. A delegation from the Council of Europe visited Malta in June 2002 to assess the discussion document and suggest strategies for its implementation. The experts' report, written by Professor Anthony Everitt (UK), was subsequently submitted to the plenary session of the Cultural Committee in Strasbourg in September 2002. Unfortunately, even though the document was regarded as a unique opportunity to address the future of cultural affairs in Malta, the draft document was never finalised into a final policy document. Notwithstanding the lack of formal or legal adoption of the policy, a number of recommendations in the report were implemented in the following years. Namely, the legal framework to establish the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts (MCCA), (Chapter 444, Act 8), (, the Cultural Heritage Act 2002 and the creation of the National Book Council.

These legal frameworks were also necessary to address Malta's commitment as a member of the European Union to promote and protect the cultural heritage of the country whilst fostering and developing its creative identity and cooperation.

With its accession in the European Union on the 1st of May 2004, Malta enhanced its strategic position in an enlarged Europe and confirmed its commitment towards the economic and political development of the European Union. This also meant that Malta had to contribute to the successful ratification of European Union treaties and agendas. Therefore, Malta's commitment towards the freedom of creative expression, the fundamental right to access culture and the celebration and preservation of the cultural diversity of its citizens as outlined in the Treaty of Maastricht is encouraging further political investment in culture. Underpinning this commitment lies the freedom of movement for the professionals in the cultural sector, freedom of establishment, and free movement of goods and services with the European Union.

European accession also meant that Malta could capitalise upon European initiatives such as the Culture and Media programmes which are currently under the responsibility of the Ministry for Tourism and Culture. EU educational programmes, under the remit of the European Union Programmes Agency within the Ministry of Education, Youth and Employment, are also offering schools, NGOs and Foundations new opportunities for cultural funding, development and cooperation. These programmes, together with other funding programmes, such as the European Structural Funds, Interreg programmes and European Regional Development Funds and the agenda set through the EU communication on Culture gave scope for government, and perhaps added pressure, to view culture as an important sector in the economic and social development of Malta.

In December 2006, the Ministry for Tourism and Culture published the first National Cultural Heritage Strategy following the enactment of the Cultural Heritage Act in 2002. The main objectives of the strategy are based on citizen participation, improved governance, development of cultural resources and sustainable use of heritage resources.

In January 2007, the Ministry launched a Tourism Plan for the Maltese Islands and Malta's National Tourism Strategy. For the cultural sector, these documents outline policies though which the niche sector of cultural tourism is to be developed in the coming years.

Even though a National Cultural Policy and strategy have not yet been officially proposed by the Ministry for Tourism and Culture, ad hoc cultural policy initiatives have, in the past ten years, been instigated by numerous Ministries and cultural organisations. An important milestone in the history of cultural affairs in Malta was set in 2007 with the inclusion of the creative industries in the government pre-budget document and the implementation of new budgetary measures for culture in the National Budget for 2008. The pre-budget document states that "cultural development needs to be at the heart of our nation - culture plays a fundamental role in human development, moulding our identity and acting as an indicator of a society's progress and advancement".

With the run-up to the General Elections in 2008, the Malta Labour Party, which is currently in Opposition, also embraces culture as one of its political priorities through a document outlining a list of 36 recommendations for Culture.

Malta/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.1 Organisational structure (organigram)

Malta/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.2 Overall description of the system

Budgetary allocations and legislation are decided upon by the Cabinet of Ministers and by the Parliament.

All initiatives and draft legislation are first submitted to the Cabinet in an executive brief and once clearance is obtained, Parliament enacts legislation accordingly.

In 2007, seven different Ministries were responsible for different aspects of the creative industries, with each Ministry creating separate policies, events and agencies.

From 2003, responsibility for the art and culture sector in Malta was transferred between ministries. Until April 2003, art and culture fell under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education. After the general elections of April 2003, which confirmed the Nationalist Party for another five-year term of office and also ensured Malta's accession to the European Union, a new Ministry catering for Arts and Young People was created. The new Ministry became responsible for setting general policy guidelines for culture and the arts, broadcasting, museums, sports and youth affairs. On the other hand, the Ministry of Education retained its portfolio for the Library and Archives Sector as well as matters relating to the Maltese Language, including the newly created National Book Council. The Ministry of Education also retained responsibility for the running of the school of music and the school of art.

Ministry for Tourism and Culture

Since 2004, following a Cabinet reshuffle, Culture has shared Ministerial responsibilities with Tourism. The Minister for Culture and the Permanent Secretary within the Ministry has the role of initiating cultural policy developments and strategies through their Departments. The EU Affairs and Policy Development Directorate is directly responsible for cultural policy development in both cultural heritage and the arts. The directorate is also responsible for EU-related matters at a domestic level as well as with other EU stakeholders which include other Ministries, Malta's Permanent Representation in Brussels, the EU Internal Affairs Directorate within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the EU Secretariat within the Office of the Prime Minister.   

Cultural Heritage

In the cultural heritage sector, the Ministry for Tourism and Culture holds direct responsibility over national agencies which operate administratively, at arms length, from government however, are bound to follow policy measures and strategies set by the Ministry. Board members are directly appointed by the Minister for Culture and recruitment in these agencies is regulated by government employment regulations and requires Ministerial approval. The Cultural Heritage Act 2002 and the National Cultural Heritage strategy, launched during the 2006 National Forum, clearly define the responsibilities and competences of each entity.

The National Forum is an annual event, which brings together entities responsible for, or interested in, the preservation of cultural heritage, to discuss the state of cultural heritage in general. The entities include the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, Heritage Malta, the Malta Centre for Restoration, the Committee of Guarantee, the Catholic Cultural Heritage Commission and other Religious Cultural Heritage Commissions, government departments and entities, Local Councils, NGOs, the University of Malta, and other educational institutions, specialists, consultants, and any other parties registering their interest in writing to the Minister.

Superintendence of Cultural Heritage

The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage's mission is to fulfil the duties of the state in ensuring the protection and accessibility of Malta's cultural heritage.

Within this legal framework of the Cultural Heritage Act 2002, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage was established and given the mission to ensure the protection and accessibility of cultural heritage. The Act also establishes the functions of the Superintendence.

The staff of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage in 2007 consisted of eleven employees, headed by the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage. Members of staff include specialists in various aspects of cultural heritage, as well as technical staff and administrative officers.

Heritage Malta

Heritage Malta is the national government agency, set up in 2002 under the provisions of the Cultural Heritage Act, entrusted with the management of national museums and heritage sites and their related collections in Malta and Gozo, including seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It operates within four key aspects, namely management, conservation, interpretation and marketing. As from 2005, following an amendment to the Cultural Heritage Act, all activities previously carried out by the former Malta Centre for Restoration have been taken over by Heritage Malta. The agency is responsible for immobile heritage (e.g. museums and heritage sites), developing measures to ensure educational promotion, accessibility, conservation and the proper operation and marketability of Malta's vast patrimony in heritage sites, buildings, collections and museums, both locally and overseas.

Committee of Guarantee

The Committee of Guarantee has been set up in order to ensure and facilitate the collaboration between the different agencies that have direct or indirect responsibility for the protection and management of the cultural heritage sector. It is also responsible for advising the government on the National Strategy for Cultural Heritage.

Cultural Heritage Fund

The Cultural Heritage Fund is a body corporate with a separate legal personality, which receives and manages monies paid to it under the provisions of the Cultural Heritage Act, as well as other assets that may be donated by non-governmental sources. These are used for research, conservation or restoration of cultural heritage. The Fund is administered by the Committee of Guarantee.

The arts

Cultural governance in the arts operates differently from cultural heritage.  St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, the Manoel Theatre, the National Orchestra and the Mediterranean Conference Centre operate at arms-length from government but are answerable to the Ministry for Tourism and Culture and the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts (MCCA).

Since no overarching cultural policy is in place for the arts, government cultural entities have established separate policies and strategies. Their operation as arms-length organisations is often hindered by their ambiguous legal status of Foundation, Board or Management Committee.

The Malta Council for Culture and the Arts is legally responsible for creating the necessary synergies between all artistic entities. However, since communication and collaboration between these entities and MCCA is minimal, attempts to bridge this gap have proved futile. 

The Minister for Culture is also responsible for appointing the Chairmen and Board members of the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts (MCCA), the Manoel Theatre (Management Committee), the National Orchestra, the Foundation Centre for Creativity and the Mediterranean Conference Centre.

Malta Council for Culture and the Arts

In 2002, the newly established Malta Council for Culture and the Arts was created to substitute the activities of the former Department of Culture which had previously operated under various Ministries. Chapter 444, constituting the legal obligations of the Council, outlines its role as a public funding body and enlists eleven duties which the Council is bound to perform in order to foster and promote artistic potential, facilitate the accessibility of arts for all citizens and create partnerships with various stake-holders. Five other duties bind the Council to monitor artistic development and research any cultural and artistic matter.

The major issue with implementing the strategic plan and objectives of the Council is that, from its inception, it was assumed that the MCCA would be supplied with the necessary financial and human resources. The Strategic Review - 2000 of the Department of Culture had already strongly recommended the redeployment of staff and the recruitment of professional cultural managers. Due to constant restructuring, the Council has not yet managed to fulfil its legal obligations. The MCCA is once again undergoing staff redeployment and its strategic plan is an abeyance. Its role as events and festival organiser is also limiting the operational, regulatory and consultative role of the Council. 

Foundation Centre for Creativity

The mission statement for St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity focuses on its role as a catalyst for the contemporary art scene in Malta, as well as a hub were people of all ages and from all walks of life can join in the enriching act of creativity. Run by a small creative team, the Centre emphasises the need to foster aesthetic and cultural awareness among the younger generation and the socially and economically disadvantaged. The Centre houses a theatre, a music room, 5 exhibition spaces and an art-house cinema. St. James Cavalier is constantly seeking partnerships with Maltese, European and Mediterranean partners to develop innovative cultural projects. Relative autonomy is given to the running of the Centre and programming of events and activities is devised by the General Manager, with the assistance of programme coordinators. The Board of the Foundation Centre for Creativity monitors the work and approves yearly objectives set by the creative team.

Teatru Manoel

Built in 1732, the Teatru Manoel in Valletta is not only Malta's oldest theatre, but one of the oldest in Europe. Embellished over the centuries, this theatre is a true architectural gem. Today, the theatre is one of Malta's foremost performing spaces, offering a wide range of productions including opera, ballet, contemporary dance, music, children's performances and drama. The theatre season is programmed by the Artistic Director; however it requires the approval of the Management Committee which is appointed by the Minister for Culture.

Mediterranean Conference Centre

The MCC is the flagship of conferences in Malta and is a major contributor to the conference and incentives sector which, in 2005, attracted 60 000 visitors who spent more than 63 million euros in Malta. The unique and imposing building houses 10 halls with a total floor space area of 7 000 square metres. Government subvention for the Conference Centre stopped after the management converted the centre from a loss making operation to a profitable entity. Thus, even though the Minister for Culture appoints the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Board, the Conference Centre operates autonomously and relatively independently from government.

Ministry of Education, Youth and Employment (MEYE)

MEYE is responsible for the National Archives and Libraries, together with the establishment of the National Book Council and the National Council of the Maltese Language. The National Book Council is expected to gain legal status in 2008 through a Legal Bill to develop the Council and outline policies for Literature.

Ministry for Investment, Industry and Information Technology (MITI)

Malta Film Commission

The remit of MITI includes the Malta Film Commission. The Malta Film Commission is a government organisation, established by Chapter 478 (Act No. 7 of 2005) of the Laws of Malta, with the role of advising the Minister responsible for the film sector on policies pertaining to the promotion, development and support of the audiovisual and film servicing industry. The board is composed of a chairman and four board members, including the Film Commissioner who is responsible for the implementation of Malta's audiovisual policy. The board of the Malta Film Commission has a largely non-executive function except for the approval of applications for both fiscal and financial incentives. Since the role of the Film Commission is to promote the production of foreign films in Malta, rather that develop the Maltese Film Industry, the Commission is seen as an entity to generate Investment rather than a Cultural entity.

Broadcasting Authority

The BA monitors political balance, technical competence and linguistic attitudes on Maltese audio-visual stations (both main political parties, as well as the Church, have their own media networks).

Public Broadcasting Services

PBS owns TVM (the most popular local TV station) as well as Radio Malta, Magic Radio and Radju Parlament.

Broadcasting policy in Malta is the responsibility of the Ministry for Tourism and Culture, whilst Malta's only public broadcaster, Public Broadcasting Services Limited, is answerable to the Minister for Information Technology and Investment. Therefore, policies and funds for Extended Public Service Obligation programming (drama, current affairs, documentaries, children and entertainment programmes) are set by the Ministry for Tourism and Culture, but the Board of Directors and the Editorial Board, who are often in conflict over governance and policies, are answerable to the Ministry for Investment, Industry and Information Technology.

Ministry for Competitiveness and Communications

The Malta Crafts Council, set up by virtue of Act XXI of 2000, is also another entity contributing to the development of the creative industries however it falls under the remit of the Parliamentary Secretariat within the Ministry for Competitiveness and Communications.

The aims of the Council are focused on the encouragement, promotion and regulation of crafts and craftsmen and entrepreneurs dealing in Maltese craft products.

Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA)

Cultural diplomacy falls within the remit of the MFA. Through the Cultural Diplomacy unit, Maltese Representations abroad are encouraged to facilitate cultural cooperation and presentation of Maltese culture however no policy or strategy is currently in place.  

Ministry of Gozo

This Ministry is responsible for the administration of Malta's sister island. Through the culture department and Gozo Culture Council, it runs an exhibition space, supports amateur cultural organisations and programmes, as well as ad hoc artistic events.

Ministry of Finance

Apart from approving and monitoring all financial matters for all ministries and agencies, the Ministry of Finance administers the National Lottery Good Causes Funds. This is the largest arts funder in Malta and operates independently from other cultural agencies or the Ministry responsible for Culture.

Malta/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.3 Inter-ministerial or intergovernmental co-operation

An inter-ministerial committee, headed by the Prime Minister, was created in 2005 to address the needs of the Tourism sector (an important driver in Malta's economy), with the participation of the Ministry for Tourism and Culture, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Employment and the Ministry for the Environment. Thus, aspects of cultural tourism are addressed within this inter-ministerial framework.

To date, no formal inter-ministerial committee exists to establish cooperative measures between all the Ministries who are responsible for different aspects of the creative industries. However, ad hoc cooperation is created for the development of specific cultural projects or policy measures.

The Ministry for Tourism and Culture cooperates with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Employment on the development and execution of bilateral agreements with other countries.

In 2007, direct cooperation between the Finance and Culture Ministries, following recommendations by the Valletta Creative Forum within St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, led to the implementation of new budgetary measures to support the creative industries.

The Valletta Creative Forum was a six month forum launched by St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity in January 2007. The project, held in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and British Council Malta, invited various stakeholders to form part of a think-tank to provide concrete proposals and a road map for the future of culture in Malta. The forum led to active cooperation with the Ministry of Health, the Elderly and Community Care to initiate collaborative actions for arts and health projects; the Department of Local Councils to discuss the role of the Local Government in community art projects; the Ministry of Finance to lobby for arts and business partnerships and fiscal measures for the creative industries; Heritage Malta to create links between the arts and cultural heritage and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to initiate more strategic work in the field of cultural diplomacy. The project was also supported by the Malta Tourism Authority and the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts.

St. James Cavalier has also established a solid working relationship with the Ministry for the Environment and Rural Affairs in environmental projects through theatre, music and film. In 2007, this organisation also collaborated with the Manoel Theatre on theatre for children, lunchtime concerts and screening of silent movies with live music.

In 2005, the Malta Drama Centre, in collaboration with a number of government departments, launched a series of outreach programmes for disenfranchised people, young offenders, elderly people in specials homes and people with refugee status staying in open centres. In 2006, the refugee programme was launched in a public display of drum-dancing and performance. A theatre performance by students of the Centre in collaboration with the government home for the elderly (St. Vincent de Paul) took place in 2007.

The Drama Unit within the Education Division is also constantly collaborating with other government entities in order to create a comprehensive Theatre-in-Education programme for schools. A major project was held in 2007, involving cooperation with the National Euro Changeover Committee - on a performance for Secondary School Children - relating to the Euro changeover, which was to take effect in Malta from January 2008. 

Malta/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends

The main developments in transnational cultural cooperation, between 2002 and 2007, have mainly been attached to programmes and initiatives of the European Union. A special EU Unit was set up by the Ministry of Education in 2002, to administer the Culture 2000, Youth and Life-Long learning programmes. Since 2004, the Culture programme administered by the Cultural Contact Point and the Media programme administered by the Media Desk have formed part of the European Affairs and Policy Development Directorate within the Ministry for Tourism and Culture. The Directorate is also active in facilitating and activating bilateral cultural agreements with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for Education, Youth and Employment. Malta has 30 bilateral cultural agreements, however only few are ratified or implemented due to financial limitations or lack of human resources.

In 2004, together with the other 34 Member States, Malta became a partner of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for Dialogue between Cultures. The Mediterranean Institute, within the University of Malta, acts as the Head of the Maltese National Network. To date, few Maltese organisations have managed to capitalise on cultural cooperation programmes offered by the Foundation.

On the 18 December 2006, Malta deposited its ratification instruments of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The Convention consecrates the role of culture as an actor in development (Article 13), mobilises civil society to achieve its goals (Article 11), and places international solidarity at the heart of its mechanism (Articles 12 to 19), by including the creation of an international fund for cultural diversity (Article 18). It also highlights "the importance of intellectual property rights in sustaining those involved in cultural creativity" and reaffirms that "freedom of thought, expression and information, as well as diversity of the media, enable cultural expressions to flourish within societies."

In 2007, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs announced Malta's intention to play a more active role in the relationship between the European Union and the Arab League.  

The implementation and development of transnational cultural cooperation projects through government initiative is often delegated to its cultural agencies, Foundations, private organisations or NGOs. Foreign representations and cultural centres in Malta also make use of the services and expertise of these cultural organisations to establish international partnerships between Maltese cultural stakeholders and their partners in the respective countries.  

One area of concern has been the large influx of irregular migrants from Africa to Malta, largely via Libya. The unprecedented traffic unfortunately gave rise to harsh, widespread sentiments of racism and xenophobia, which are openly expressed in the public domain and the media. Following pressure from the media and academics, the government amended the Criminal Code in 2006 to increase punishment for crimes against race and religion. These issues have been rigorously addressed during the 2007 European Year for Equal Opportunities and international collaboration to address these issues will continue to be part of the National strategy for the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. 

Malta/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy

The interaction between the Ministries of Culture, Foreign Affairs and Education, Youth and Employment occurs during the ratification of bilateral agreements. Collaboration between the EU Affairs and Policy Directorates within each Ministry also serves as an important governmental network to sustain Malta's ongoing relationship with the European Union and other countries.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not have the necessary mechanisms to propose yearly cultural programming or events to encourage Maltese embassies abroad to propose cultural events in their programmes. Each respective Embassy seeks separate partnerships in cultural projects depending on the resources of the Embassy and cultural acumen of the Ambassador.

Local Councils have also been showing a keen interest in twinning programmes with European towns and villages, resulting in bilateral cultural schemes, mostly in the field of band music, folklore and cultural heritage.

Publicly mandated cultural agencies and institutes maintain their active status. Institutes like the Alliance Francaise, the Italian Cultural Institute and the German-Maltese Circle are particularly effective in diffusing European culture, organising language courses and facilitating cultural projects between Maltese and foreign organisations.

As one of the most active organisations, British Council Malta had an excellent track record in fostering long-term cultural projects between Malta and the UK. The yearly artistic programmes which the British Council presented in Malta offered some of the most contemporary and innovative cultural projects. However, in 2007, due to downsizing of its operations in Malta and strategic development in the mission of the British Council, the Malta office will no longer assume a bilateral role, but enhance the Council's profile in the Mediterranean region.

The Spanish Circle has a less conspicuous presence but has recently stepped up initiatives to spread the Spanish language, in addition to morally supporting the development of local Flamenco dance troupes. The American Centre contributes to the cultural life of the island by way of supporting projects with American artists. There is also an Islamic Centre that offers several activities to promote inter-religious dialogue. The Centre, funded by the Libyan Jamahirija, runs its own its own Islamic School, headed by a Maltese, female director. It also boasts a substantial library, offering titles ranging from Muslim folklore to Islamic philosophy.

In 2003, following excellent bilateral relations between Malta and China, the Chinese government opened a cultural centre in Valletta. As the first China Cultural Centre in the Mediterranean region and the fifth in the world, the centre is seeking to reach out to the peoples of the Mediterranean and Europe by holding Chinese cultural seminars, exhibitions, Chinese language classes and other activities.

The government of Malta - through the Ministry for Tourism and Culture (MTAC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - has in operation a bilateral programme of cultural exchanges with the government of the People's Republic of China, which has been extended for the period 2005-2008, in accordance with an Agreement between the two countries signed in 1992.

During the last two years (2006-2007) a number of events have been organised by MTAC, in collaboration with the China Cultural Centre in Valletta. In April 2006, a production of Peking Opera was staged at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta. The Chinese Peking Opera troupe performed four different sketches taken from some of the most famous pieces in this form of Chinese Opera. These were "The Crossroads"; "Stealing Silver in Storage"; "Autumn River" and "Farewell to a Beauty".

One of the most important events in Malta, in relation with China this year, has been the hosting of a prestigious exhibition of a selection of artefacts from the Chinese terracotta army at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta from 1 March to 31 July 2007.

The exhibition "Silent Warriors - The Chinese Terracotta Soldiers" was organised by Heritage Malta and Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau, in collaboration with the Malta Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Malta Embassy for the People's Republic of China and the Chinese Cultural Centre in Malta. The exhibition consisted of 81 original artefacts, including 10 terracotta soldiers, 2 horses and a number of bronze and pottery cooking utensils, personal ornaments, weapons, coins, terracotta animals and other artefacts excavated in the last 30 years.

Moreover, the Ministry assisted in a number of exhibitions hosted by the China Cultural Centre or by other exhibition venues both in 2006 and in 2007- examples include Chinese Ceramics Exhibition (12 May - 25 June 2006), Fans and Umbrellas Exhibition (February 5 February - 31 March 2007), an exhibition of Chinese Musical Instruments (7 August - 9 September), all exhibited at St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity; and an exhibition of Peking Opera Statues and Costumes, exhibited at the Heritage Malta Museum of Archaeology in April 2006, to coincide with the production of the Beijing Opera performance in Malta.

MTAC also supported events of the China Cultural Centre such as the Chinese New Year celebrations this year.

MTAC has also worked on a programme of exchange of artists, starting in 2006.  Maltese percussionist Renzo Spiteri was chosen to attend an artist-in-residency programme at the Academy of Music in Beijing. Following this programme, Mr Spiteri collaborated with three other Chinese Musicians who participated at the Malta Jazz Festival in 2006.

Malta's proximity to Italy, as well as traditional historical connections with that country, frequently results in technical assistance by the Italian government through Financial Protocols which mainly support cultural heritage restoration programmes.

One important development, in recent years, has been the enhancement of the European Film Festival, organised by the European Commission's Office in Malta. In the past three years, the festival has attracted a significant following, composed of Maltese patrons and members of respective foreign communities.

Malta also tries to retain an important cultural profile at international conferences. In 2006, for instance, Malta hosted the International Tourism Forum, and a Malta declaration advocating the correct balance between development, tourism and heritage conservation was adopted by Europa Nostra.

Malta/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.3 European / international actors and programmes

Malta's participation in major programmes of multicultural co-operation is now linked mainly to the Culture, Media and Youth and Life-long learning programmes funded by the European Union.

Apart from the country's ongoing participation in European Union programmes and initiatives, Malta remains committed towards an active contribution to the Council of Europe and UNESCO conventions.

Ever since its accession to membership in the Council of Europe in 1965, Malta has constantly contributed to the overall workings of the Council of Europe, mainly through its Parliamentary delegation, but also at Ministerial levels and through its representative experts in various fields that participate regularly in several working groups established within its widespread structure. Malta is regularly represented in Cultural Committee meetings of the Council of Europe and UNESCO, especially where themes like conservation of the cultural heritage and action for the protection of the maritime heritage are concerned.

Malta is a signatory of the European Cultural Convention and active within the Council of Europe's Cultural Heritage Committee. It is also active within the European Conference of Ministers responsible for cultural heritage and, as far back as 1992; the Valletta Convention gave a decisive lead to the concerns of the Council of Europe in this area of interest.

Responsibility for the implementation and monitoring of UNESCO conventions are normally the responsibility of the ministries responsible for culture, education and tourism, but specific issues (e.g. the cultural rights of refugees and ethnic groups) also involve the Ministry for Justice and Home Affairs (MJHA). A Policy Paper, published in 2005 by the MJHA, addresses the issue of the cultural rights of ethnic minorities.

Even though Malta needs to play a more active role in the Anna-Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, Malta's geographical position and historical cultural interaction with other cultures should enhance its commitment towards a cultural dialogue within the Euro-Mediterranean framework as outlined in the Barcelona Convention.

Malta/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.4 Direct professional co-operation

Apart from governmental bi-lateral agreements, trans-national co-operation is activated through several channels, including local authorities and other institutions like the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, the University of Malta, the Manoel Theatre, St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, the Malta Dance Council, the Carnival Committee, 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.

In 2007, Heritage Malta concluded a three year Culture 2000 project entitled Trimed - The culture of the bread, oil and wine of the three. It is a project of cooperation among 6 Mediterranean islands (Mallorca, Corsica, Sicily, Naxos, Cyprus and Malta) which was created with the intention to share knowledge and experiences relative to the Mediterranean trilogy culture, as a tool for its revaluation. Other collaborations through Culture 2000 projects include The Significance of Cart-ruts in ancient landscapes and Crusades: Myths and realties. Amongst a total of 19 EU projects, Heritage Malta participates in Interreg projects with Sicily and in Leonardo mobility programmes.

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. A successful cooperation with Kneehigh Theatre Company (UK) and the National Theatre of Cyprus led to the development of a Culture 2000 project and active collaboration between all artists following the completion of the project.

In 2007, St. James Cavalier launched two European cultural projects with partners from the UK, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Austria. The Culture funded project will develop a visual arts network for intercultural dialogue, whereas the other project funding through the Grundtvig programme will enable the development of a theatre company for those with learning disabilities. 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 has also been designated with the role of National Coordinating Body for the 2008 European Year for Intercultural Dialogue which will seek active collaboration with all EU member states and diverse cultural communities in Malta. 

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.

2007 was also another fruitful year for Inizjamed - a cultural NGO with very active participation in transnational cultural cooperation. In July 2007, Inizjamed coordinated the Valletta SENSI one-week multi-sensorial workshop as part of the Crossing Places artistic project, part-funded by the Culture 2000 programme of the EU. The Malta workshop and Arezzo conference and performances included artists, some of whom are visually impaired, from Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia. The Maltese artists also took part in events in Thessaloniki and Catania.

Inizjamed, in collaboration with the Birgu Local Council, also organised a Mediterranean Literature Festival in September 2007, with the participation of a host of writers from Malta, Algeria, Catalonia, the Czech Republic / UK, Italy, Palestine, Turkey, and Wales. This major literary event was held as part of the Literature Across Frontiers project, part-financed by the Culture 2000 programme of the EU.

In the field of theatre, the Malta Drama Centre has been taking a leading role in Central Europe, providing training in drama related to social issues, a genre that provides for the actual participation of the spectators on stage. The Malta Drama Centre has also forged links with the Alliance Franšaise de Malte to receive theatre animators from Lyons and to introduce drama workshops at the state institution. The project between the Alliance Franšaise de Malte and the Malta Drama Centre is bilateral and the collaboration is meant to grow and expand.

In 2006, the Renaissance Cultural Foundation was set up as a cultural NGO with the aim of developing artists' potential through international opportunities and events; to organise and encourage cultural exchange among nations; and to emphasise the promotion of innovative programmes and projects in the international context.

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.

Malta/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.5 Cross-border intercultural dialogue and co-operation

Since Malta has no official cultural policy for cross-border intercultural dialogue, ad hoc government programmes supporting trans-national intercultural dialogue are normally implemented either by the Ministry responsible for Culture (via its agencies), the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Education, Youth and Employment (through a substantial number of courses and scholarships).

The government has a specific fund to cater for the trans-national movement of young people, and such provisions are managed by the Youth Section within the Ministry of Education, Youth and Employment.

Following EU accession, the movement of young Maltese has increased dramatically, mostly by virtue of the youth programmes offered by the Commission and managed by the National Agency catering for such programmes. On the other hand, a private body like the Youth Travel Circle offers plenty of opportunity for outgoing and incoming cultural tourism.

There is a new focus for co-operation on youth culture which is realised through many EU programmes such as Socrates, Leonardo, Youth for Europe, Culture, the European Voluntary Service and Youth Initiative. Moreover, the Department of Youth and Sports within the Ministry of Education provides regular exchange programmes with Euro-Mediterranean countries. Malta also takes part in a Youth Specialisation Study Scheme and other initiatives generated by the Council of Europe. A major shift in priorities and development has resulted in Malta's active role in the formulation of the EU White Paper on Youth, published by the Directorate-General for Education and Culture in Luxembourg (2002).

Inizjamed and the Jesuit Refugee Services are two major NGOs which have developed intercultural projects with the inclusion of migrant communities and artists from Mediterranean countries.

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section

Malta/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.6 Other relevant issues

Cultural collaboration with countries like Britain, France, Germany and Italy has centred on projects such as the screening of art-house films, art and photographic exhibitions and music concerts. Some of the most stable events on Malta's mainstream cultural calendar arrive from Italy, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. In the recent past, Maltese activity in France, Germany and Italy has included exhibitions, literary events and pedagogical theatre. It is assumed that the promotion of Maltese culture abroad will be enhanced and proliferated through the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, which is also responsible for artistic exchange and co-operation. The Council has proclaimed a commitment "to build awareness and promote Maltese culture and arts locally, around the Mediterranean basin and internationally." However, so far the international role of the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts had mainly been directed towards the programming of the Summer Arts Festival which takes place every year. 

EU programmes like Grundtvig have seen Malta taking the initiative to launch schemes for adult training through creative methods, including theatre, with European partners. Such schemes involve a programme for citizen empowerment through theatre, conducted in conjunction with partners from Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. In 2004-2006, there have been several examples of good practice, including theatre work in collaboration with a psychiatric centre in Abruzzo (Italy).

It is estimated that there are approximately 350 000 citizens of direct Maltese descent (Maltese Diaspora) living in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and other European countries. First and second generation emigrants have been actively concerned about preserving Maltese culture overseas. There is also Maltese language classes organised regularly in Australia and elsewhere, while Maltese programmes feature regularly on Ethnic Radio in Australia. The Maltese Broadcasting Service also sends regular news bulletins in Maltese to emigrants, but unfortunately, a rather "parochial" protectionist culture prevailing within the Maltese Diaspora has been alienating younger generations of Maltese lineage. The problem is often noticed when Maltese people visit their distant families in the host countries.

On an official visit to Australia in 2007, the Maltese Prime Minister promised the government's commitment to address the cultural needs of the Diaspora community in Australia. This will mainly be created through increased cultural links with Malta and further investment in pedagogical tools for Maltese language courses.

Malta/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.1 Main elements of the current cultural policy model

The Ministry for Tourism and Culture, through its EU Affairs, Policy and Programme Implementation Directorate, directs the implementation of the Tourism plan and the cultural heritage strategy via arms-length institutions such as the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts and Heritage Malta. In recent years, decentralisation of responsibility for culture has become a priority; however, major cultural events are still managed and created by centralised entities such as the Ministry for Tourism and Culture or the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts. Since 2005, certain government funded events such as the Malta Jazz Festival and large-scale concerts have been subcontracted to private companies.

Also, the lack of national strategies and policies for the arts have left arts organisations with not much choice but to devise their own strategies with no synergy and monitoring from the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts. The slow progress within the restructuring exercise of the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts has also led the Ministry for Tourism and Culture, through its EU Affairs and Policy Directorate, to play a more active role in supporting initiatives by government cultural entities.

Moves have been made to involve local councils in a proactive way and the Ministry of Education has sponsored specific activities occurring in areas regarded as social outposts. Proposals have been introduced on new legislation that would empower the local councils to take a more definitive role in cultural affairs.

The arms-length model, proposed in the cultural policy document of August 2001 (updated 2002), was implemented through the establishment of the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts and Heritage Malta. However, the cultural policy was not fully implemented due to a lack of continuity during the Cabinet reshuffle. The rate of development in this arms-length organisation has created clear distinctions between culture, heritage and the arts. Heritage Malta has become rather autonomous from government intervention whereas an institutional and interventionist relationship still exists between the Ministry for Tourism and Culture and the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts.

Malta/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.2 National definition of culture

In the Declaration of Principles of the Maltese Constitution, Section 8 says: "The State shall promote the development of culture and scientific and technical research."

Culture is not specifically defined by the government, however, in principle, it subscribes to the notions of culture adopted by international bodies such as UNESCO and the Council of Europe.

The Cultural Heritage Act provides an "interpretation" of cultural heritage:

"Cultural Heritage" means movable or immovable objects of artistic, architectural, historical, archaeological, ethnographic, palaeontological and geological importance and includes information or data relative to cultural heritage pertaining to Malta or to any other country. This includes archeological, palaeontological or geological sites and deposits, landscapes, groups of buildings, as well as scientific collections, collections of art objects, manuscripts, books, published material, archives, audio-visual material and reproductions of any of the preceding, or collections of historical value, as well as intangible cultural assets comprising arts, traditions, customs and skills employed in the performing arts, in applied arts and in crafts and other intangible assets which have a historical, artistic or ethnographic value.

Malta/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.3 Cultural policy objectives

Malta currently subscribes to a number of cultural heritage objectives as outlined in the Cultural Heritage Strategy. The objectives are directly inspired by the guiding principles outlined in Part II of the Heritage Act. (Annex 1, Section 1.3) The principles are based on citizen participation, improved governance, development of cultural resources and sustainable use of heritage resources.

The shared Ministerial portfolio of Tourism and Culture has led to an increased emphasis on cultural tourism and events, thus changing the cultural policy objectives set by the Ministry of Education in the cultural policy document published in 2001.

The website of the Ministry for Tourism and Culture states that:

The aim of the Ministry for Tourism and Culture is to improve the quality of life for all citizens through cultural activities and through the strengthening of the tourism, creative and leisure industries.

Starting at the grass-root level of communities, through local clubs, and reaching out to Europe and the rest of the world, through partnerships, and through the island's foremost institutions - the Manoel Theatre and St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, the Ministry's vision is to recognise this wealth and to extend excellence and improve access in all its sectors.

In particular, it has identified three main areas:

Unlike the Cultural Heritage Strategy, which has measurable objectives and set targets, the three main objectives for culture and the arts outlined by the Ministry are currently not being implemented through a coherent national policy or strategic plan.

Malta supports the aims of the Council of Europe as enshrined in its European Cultural Convention, adhering to the Council's overall objectives of promoting human values throughout the continent, with emphasis on identity, diversity, human rights, social and economic affairs, education, heritage, media and communication, youth affairs and local authorities.

Malta/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

The main priorities in the past few years have centred on

In 2002, the Ministry of Education, in association with the University of Malta, held a fifteen-day National Symposium on Culture and the Arts within a Euro-Mediterranean framework. The colloquium gave rise to important issues, like the distinction between elite and popular culture. This is a crucial matter for a traditional country like Malta, where culture and the arts have often been linked to specific social strata. This crucial debate has been going on for the past three years, especially in circles connected to the performing arts and literature, on issues such as re-activating Maltese indigenous productions. For example, one of the main questions being addressed is the current crisis in Maltese theatre and whether it is the result of elitism (a large section of the theatre-going public still prefers mainstream English drama), apathy or the lack of authentic works by local authors. The debate has spread to all sections of the media, including the English-language press. One of the leading actors which is spear-heading the discourse has been the Drama Committee of L-Akkademja tal-Malti (Academy for Maltese).

In 2006, in order to focus on the cultural aspects of the Maltese islands, the Faculty of Economics and Management at the University introduced a series of units for tourism students (including many foreigners), dealing with the cultural significance of the performing arts in Malta. The course, with English as its language of transmission, traces the origins of ritual in Malta and moves on to explore the significance of carnival, street religious performance and the village feast; the latter being an event of exuberance and traditional merry-making accompanied by festive band music.

The last time Malta held a national conference on arts and culture was in 1999, reaching consensus that culture should not be controlled vertically and that "a new activism" was required to address the multifarious nature of the community.

In January 2007, St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity launched a think-tank for culture called the Valletta Creative Forum (VCF). The aim of the VCF is to focus on issues challenging contemporary culture in Malta through a series of encounters and working groups which seek to provide concrete proposals and a road map for the future of culture in Malta.

The 2007 edition of the Forum, which tackled six major issues, included the participation of more than 300 stakeholders from the artistic, political, business and governmental sectors, together with more than 20 European speakers and contributors. The forum not only served as a lobby group for cultural development but offered an excellent networking opportunity for all stakeholders. The most successful and tangible outcome of the forum was the inclusion of new measures in the 2007 Government Budget. The outcomes of the forum, together with all the supporting documentation, are expected to be published in 2008. This will also coincide with the acceleration of the national election campaign which is expected to take place in 2008.

The six sessions organised by the Valletta Creative Forum raised the following issues and recommendations:

Cultural governance in Malta and beyond:

Arts and health: the wellbeing of Maltese society

Arts, heritage and tourism

Creativity in our local communities

Show business: sustaining our creative industries

Cultural diplomacy: endorsing identity & celebrating diversity

The launch of the Forum reignited the debate on the implementation of the 2001 cultural policy document. A prominent member of the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts has also publicly called on government to start implementing a cohesive cultural policy, even though such a role should have been fulfilled by the Council as outlined in the law.

The think-tank had no intention of subscribing to this debate and sought to expose the value of the arts on a social and economic level and lobby for measures towards the professionalisation of the creative industries.

Malta/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.1 Cultural minorities, groups and communities

Research into cultural diversity in Malta is limited to census data and citizenship statistics on the Maltese and non-Maltese population. According to figures of the 2005 census, just over 12 100 people in Malta, or 3% of the total population, are foreign. The population of non-Maltese is composed of citizens from diverse countries, with a large presence of citizens from the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Serbia and Libya. Information about second and third generation migrants is currently not available. The Indian-Maltese French, German, Maltese-Australian and Italian communities are well established and active communities. New communities from African countries are slowly being created; however they face numerous challenges in integrating with other communities.

Recent large-scale irregular migration around the Mediterranean has provoked unprecedented anxiety among large sections of the Maltese citizenry. In 2001, the Ministry of Home Affairs created the position of Commissioner for Refugees, whose job it is to address the issue of illegal immigrants and others seeking asylum. Prior to the establishment of the Commissioner's Office, the issue was being almost exclusively handled by Dar l-Emigrant (The Migrant's Home), an extensive mission run by the Church. Another Church organisation, the Jesuit Refugee Centre, is another key stakeholder.

Records have shown that, over the past five years, more than 2 000 immigrants have made their way to Malta every year. Considering Malta's high density (1 700 people per square km), the issue has solicited a huge debate in the national media, with the Catholic Church (which established a Refugee Service run by Jesuits) insisting on its own definite stand against emerging racism. A Policy Paper, published in 2005 by the Ministry for Home Affairs, includes sections relating to the ethnic, religious and cultural rights of refugees and illegal immigrants whose application for status is under consideration.

The tables below, retrieved from an article by Herman Grech, Deputy Editor of the Sunday Times of Malta, outline the number of immigrants in detention and those living in open centres in 2007. The five overcrowded detention centres, with facilities which are insufficient to cater for the needs of the several hundred immigrants detained at any one time, are run by the national security forces. Immigrants released from detention, after a maximum of 18 months, are transferred to the open centres and are allowed to seek employment. Some migrants are often underpaid and overworked by abusive employers.  Even though their freedom of movement is not suppressed by the authorities, their segregation from the Maltese communities has led to numerous cases of racism and xenophobia.

Table 1:     Immigrants (by nationality) in detention, October 2007













Burkina Faso
















Guinea Bissau




Ivory Coast




















Sierra Leone



















Source:      Times of Malta, Sunday 11 November 2007.

Table 2:     Number of people in Open Centres, October 2007


No. of residents

Failed asylum seekers among these

Hal Far Tent Village



Dar il-Liedna

48 (18 unaccompanied minors)


Dar il-Qawsalla

4 (including children)


Hal Far / OIWAS

135 (including children)


Emigrants' Commission



Marsa Open Centre



Peace Lab



Dar is-Sliem

23 (unaccompanied minors)



2 106


Source:      Times of Malta, Sunday 11 November 2007.

Following local and international pressure, the government is actively implementing new strategies to address the cultural needs of the irregular migrant community.

A "narration-through-art" programme, started by the Policy Unit within the Ministry of Education, was pioneered with adolescent immigrant orphans, while the Jesuit Refugee Service provided a number of cultural evenings with ethnic music. A significant three-month programme was launched in 2006 by the Malta Drama Centre, enabling 12 African drum-dancers from an open immigrants' centre to rehearse with Maltese tutors and present a series of spectacular shows for the Maltese public. Intended as "a political statement" in favour of the cultural rights of refugees, the project received wide attention in the media. Nevertheless, there is no official and concrete action to rehabilitate refugees and illegal immigrants culturally and creatively and no specific cultural policy has been formulated to cover the interests of this minority.

As part of the activities celebrating the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities, a walk-through theatre performance about migration was organised by the Jesuit Refugee Services. The collaborative performance between Maltese actors and Congolese asylum seekers highlighted the difficult and oppressive journey from Congo to Malta. Secondary school children were invited to join the performers on a journey whilst listening to personal experiences of war, hunger, oppression and hope. A DVD was shown to the students outlining the different types of discrimination. It also included inserts from famous people such Nelson Mandela and Desmond Mpilo Tutu speaking about equality. The endorsement of these activities by the Ministry for Family and Social Solidarity is a positive step for cultural integration.

With the support of the European Commission, the Ministry for Family and Social Solidarity, together with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the COA, a Dutch asylum-seeking agency, will be focusing on the culture orientation aspect of irregular migrants. In a classroom setting, complete with audio-visual facilities, illegal immigrants will be taught languages, life skills, the Maltese way of life, the island's history, and will be informed about issues of equality and democracy. Officials from the Employment and Training Corporation will also be on hand to assist immigrants with developing work skills, such as drawing up a CV.

There have been calls in the media for the formulation of a national report which would evaluate the refugee situation in Malta and indicate strategies for an integrationist programme, emphasising creativity and social cohesion through cultural events, art exhibitions and other intercultural schemes.

In terms of National Legislation aimed at enhancing social cohesion and combating discrimination on issues of race and ethnic origin, thus indirectly also supporting intercultural dialogue, the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity has implemented the following legal frameworks and provisions:

Malta/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.2 Language issues and policies

The Constitution of the Republic of Malta recognises Maltese as the national language, but identifies both Maltese and English as languages for official communication.

The Maltese language is the most important factor determining the identity of the people. The influence of globalisation and the rapidly developing information technology has introduced a growing number of new elements to the language itself, which has necessitated the careful evaluation of its current status. In 2005, on the initiative of the Ministry of Education, a National Council was created to cater for the current needs and the development of the Maltese language. The National Council for the Maltese Language (NCML), based in Valletta, is responsible for producing strategic positions on the protection, enhancement and development of the national language, including the promotion of Maltese literature.

According to an in-depth report carried in the media in March 2006, the NML considers that the official position of Maltese is strong, with "a firm hold in important fields of cultural life and religion." However, the Council acknowledges that the Maltese language has been "traditionally absent" from areas such as the civil service, the sciences, economy, higher education and youth entertainment, which are of great importance in the minds of the people. The Council believes that "much remains to be done when it comes to people's linguistic self-confidence and their attitudes towards their own language."

A new strategy is being developed which envisages the establishment of several committees, each addressing different aspects of linguistic and literary activities such as education, translation from and into Maltese, terminology, book production, media programming, IT development, etc. The work will be co-ordinated by the National Centre for the Maltese Language, to be administered by NCML. The operations will involve representatives from all walks of life including the media, civil service, commercial sector, the Courts of Law, the Church, libraries, NGOs, local councils, publishers and migrants. The imperatives of the new strategy became even more urgent in the light of Malta's accession to the European Union as a full member in 2004, with Maltese declared as one of the official languages of the Union.

The recognition of the Maltese language by the European Union in May 2002 was enthusiastically received by writers, academics and the intelligentsia, also in view of the overseas employment possibilities for Maltese authors, translators, editors and proof readers to work in EU programmes and organisations. The first official translations of EU material in 2003 created a stir in that they were not of the required standard, a problem that was not perceived as urgent. Such new circumstances have prompted the government to accelerate legislative provisions for the protection and development of the native language and to install university programmes to provide training for translation / interpreters (the first graduates were accredited in 2006-2007).

In January 2007, the National Council for Language launched an initiative which will determine the standard use of orthographic variants in the national language. The first national seminar involved writers, editors, journalists, translators, educators and examiners. The issue has become pressing, given the heavy influx of foreign words, particularly from the English and Italian languages which have been embedded in the Maltese language, the only Semitic language spoken and written in Europe. Meanwhile, Maltese translators working at the European Union's institutions in Brussels and Luxembourg were expecting an increase in their workload after an EU derogation lifted in May 2007. The Maltese government had been awarded a three-year derogation on translating EU documents into Maltese, so as to prepare translators professionally for the job, after Malta joined the European Union on 1 May 2004. There are currently 60 translators from Malta working at EU institutions and this number is to increase by another twenty.

The Broadcasting Authority is monitoring the use of the Maltese language, an issue which is often charged with emotions. This function has required training in Maltese speaking and writing among media / broadcasting personnel. The Malta Board of Standards has always been working intensely to harmonise the Maltese language with the requirements of new information technologies. However, there is a serious bone of contention relating to the use of Maltese on broadcasting stations, even on the national channel (Radio Malta and Malta Television). Most of the criticism is directed at poorly prepared presenters, entertainers and sports commentators. There is also criticism about the technical quality of presentation, including poor diction and garbled speech, which is detrimental to the national language.

One area that is receiving particular attention involves the Maltese language and its use in ICT. The two institutions dealing with the issue are the Technical Committee for Maltese in ICT, operating within the Council for the Maltese Language (2005) and the Malta Standards Authority. The use of Maltese in ICT was greatly enhanced in April 2006, with the launch of Microsoft Windows XP in Maltese.

Malta/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.3 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes

Policy measures addressing aspects of intercultural dialogue have mainly been developed by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Employment and the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity. 

Although the issue of intercultural dialogue does not specifically constitute a primary focus of the remit of the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity, yet the Ministry has been an active contributor on the issue through the development of a number of measures (including legal, policy focused and service-delivery initiatives) that have been or are being adopted to enhance social cohesion, increase the social inclusion prospects of vulnerable groups and promote social solidarity between people of divergent cultural backgrounds. Therefore, although the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity has not endorsed specific policies and legal frameworks on the particular topic of Intercultural Dialogue, it has been pivotal in the development of inclusion and integration policies as well as in the enactment of a number of legal frameworks (described in more detail below) that concern measures to target racism, combat discrimination and advance the welfare of third country nationals.

In 2007, the Ministry for Tourism and Culture also introduced intercultural dialogue as part of its political agenda.

The Ministry's National Strategy outlining Malta's contribution for the 2008 European Year for Intercultural Dialogue states that the year will be a unique opportunity for Malta to include intercultural dialogue as one of its key policy measures in order to:

Policy must ensure that these challenges offer an opportunity for growth and development to:

Since 2007, St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity has been acting as the National Coordinator for the 2008 European Year for Intercultural Dialogue. In 2008, the Centre will be coordinating the National project entitled F.I.V.E (Forging Intercultural Dialogue Valuing Europe). The objective of this project is to increase the awareness of Maltese people, particularly the younger generation, about the cultures that played their part in the moulding of the Maltese culture, making it what it is today, and the influences that are playing a new role in the inevitable continuation of this living process. The creative project relates to the exploration of the 5 senses: touch, smell, taste, sound and sight. The National Coordinating Body also plans to work directly with the Media and Local Councils to promote active citizenship, integration and participation of minority communities in local contexts.

In 2007, the European Union Programmes Agency (EUPA) in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Employment, has been delegated the task to administer the European Fund for the Integration of Third-country Nationals, which consists of euro 507 000 per annum for the next six years. Cultural projects funded through this programme will also be implemented in 2008.

For more information, see:
Database of Good Practice on Intercultural Dialogue and our Intercultural Dialogue section.

For more information on the government's National Strategy for the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue please see:

Malta/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.4 Social cohesion and cultural policies

The aim of "democratising culture and the arts" has been declared, officially, since the year 2000, when a framework document for the establishment of the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts (MCCA) was presented to the Cabinet of Ministers. The Cultural Policy document of 2001 endorsed that position. However, once the MCCA was established, mixed messages have been transmitted. While sources within the MCCA insist that "democratisation" is still an important objective which keeps in sight cultural cohesion, they pronounce suspicion about the populism and "vulgarisation" that the process might entail. More concretely, the aim of "democratisation" is contradicted even by the ticket prices for state-organised performances, which can average 20-30 euros. The price tag is far more expensive where opera is concerned, and a block ticket for Malta's Jazz Festival is beyond the reach of many families.

The relative, physical poverty of many Maltese people is demonstrated in data published in 2004 by the National Office of Statistics: 19 070 persons (15.1% of the population in Malta and 12.7% in the sister island of Gozo) lived below the poverty line.

The effective cultural deficit, on the other hand, is clearly represented by statistics which show that 50% of all Maltese people never travelled abroad; that 11% of the adult population is illiterate and that (in 2004) three-quarters of the Maltese population never watched a theatrical performance (10% less than the EU average).

Whole regions, like the inner harbour area, are marked by a cultural deficit, while the performing arts and other cultural projects are patronised by a conspicuous coterie of elites.

The vast majority of the Maltese are content to watch very poor quality television productions (see 4.2.5 below) or entertain themselves during loud, pseudo-religious celebrations which often degenerate into bouts of reciprocal insults and abuse. In fact, a key spokesperson for the MCCA said, in 2006, that his Council found it difficult to lure people to cultural events "when competing with feasts." One successful experiment that attracted new audiences involved the National Orchestra playing a pop-repertory. The concert was financed by the state, with additional funding from Vodafone, but entrance still cost 22 euros per ticket.

There have been recent attempts by Local Councils to develop programmes aimed at improving the quality of popular entertainment. Local authorities are organising their own festivals, band concerts and "special days" celebrating their community, while others have even invited foreign TV-crews to film the events. Other locally engineered cultural ventures (e.g. open air dramatic performances) have been staged to support charitable institutions, including a Centre for the Disabled and a Children's Cancer Support Group. The National Lotteries Good Causes Fund, which is managed by the Ministry of Finance, funds creative and charitable projects that foster social cohesion and cultural participation. Social cohesion and supportive commitment through cultural intervention is therefore on functional mode, although there has hardly been any official pronouncement on the matter.

St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity operates cultural social cohesion programmes by offering subsidised and free creativity programmes for schools, which yearly host 15 000 children, subsidising or offering free rental of space for charitable events, and free rehearsal and training space for individuals and groups interested in creative work. In 2007, St. James Cavalier initiated a 2 year life-long learning project to establish a theatre for those people with learning disabilities, with partners from the UK and Belgium

Another cultural and civic action worthy of note has been undertaken by the Malta Drama Centre in association with a private company which caters for elderly people in special residencies. The Centre also pioneered Forum Theatre programmes with people on the margins, including young offenders in rehabilitation homes, female victims of domestic violence and African immigrants.

One other area of interest concerns the digital divide, and the government, through the Ministry of Information Technology, has announced an extensive programme to deal with the issue.

The events oriented policy adopted by the Ministry for Tourism and Culture led to free large scale events. These included an MTV concert by Enrique Iglesias, Maroon 5 and Akon which drew a crowd of 40 000; Notte Bianca, Magica and Lejlet Lapsi - three all-night cultural events in Valletta and Victoria; and Ciao'Scia, a concert by Italian singers Claudio Baglioni, Gianni Morandi and Riccardo Cocciante. Even though these free events attracted thousands of Maltese and tourists, no official cultural policy outlines specific strategies to address social cohesion processes and increased cultural participation. Instead, elaborate and costly events are created for the tourist market but promoted as free cultural activities for all.

Malta/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.5 Media pluralism and content diversity

There are no anti-trust measures to prevent media concentration in Malta and the share of domestic versus imported media programmes amounts to approximately 80% percent. However, the content value is hotly contested by media analysts and commentators. A report on TV (local) programmes, published in a qualitative survey by Ernst and Young for the Malta Desk within the EU Affairs Directorate of the Culture Ministry (June, 2006), highlighted the lack of quality in Maltese broadcasting as well as the fact that on Maltese television, "there is too much teleshopping and not enough education." Plagiarism ("mediocre copying") of foreign programmes also came into sharp focus in the Report prepared for the EU Affairs Directorate. On the other hand, there are no specific training programmes for journalists or broadcasting producers, but the University of Malta offers a Communication Studies Course, based largely on theory. The recruitment of media personnel for the two political audio-visual channels, belonging to the Nationalist Party (in government) and the Labour Party respectively, depends completely on party affiliation.

The Broadcasting Act of 1991 abolished the state monopoly over the media and liberalised the market. Afterwards, the two major political parties and the Catholic Church became actively involved in audio-visual production. The liberalisation also led to economic growth, with a significant increase in advertising revenue, and the provision of job opportunities for journalists and broadcasters at private and community stations.

The Public Broadcasting Service has a specific company memorandum that requires the provision of radio and television programmes "of an educational and cultural nature", as well as programmes that meet the "entertainment needs of the public". Moreover, the Maltese Broadcasting Authority stresses that public broadcasting should take into account the provision of the best information, education and entertainment, as well as the exploration and "promotion of national identity, social values and culture."

The diffusion of homogenous mass entertainment became widely criticised because of its purely consumer-oriented approach without any intellectual challenge. Another concern is the politicisation of the media in a country that is already politically and culturally divided.

The Ministry of Education has been operating its own educational broadcasting programmes on Channel 22, while the Public Broadcasting Services, which also belong to the portfolio of the same Ministry, runs Channel 12 as a community channel that provides serious content production and debate of a cultural nature.

Local councils and small communities, including religious groups, are pushing for more community channels. Currently, there are 21 community channels (eleven of which belong to Church-related groups) with limited hours on the air per day. There are no definitive quota regulations but surveys have shown that the Maltese maintain a constant preference for locally generated programmes. It is estimated that approximately 65%-75% of prime-time media broadcasting is produced in Malta. There have been intermittent attempts in the media to induce public broadcasting to follow EU recommendations in favour of sub-titling foreign material in Maltese and to introduce more films from EU countries, but the situation remains poorly monitored and positive results have not been forthcoming.

Local drama productions are often of a low quality, save for rare attempts where literary works have been used. Another area of concern involves children's programmes, declared by the Broadcasting Authority as being of consistently low quality and mainly used as fillers (Report, 2000). Aware that the situation has remained stubbornly negative, the Broadcasting Authority called a national conference on broadcasting in 2006, where the quality of locally produced material was severely criticised. An audience survey by the Broadcasting Authority itself (2005) has shown that a third of viewers with a tertiary education do not watch any Maltese TV, while two Mediaset (Italian) channels are  favourite among younger and more educated Maltese viewers.

To remedy the situation somehow, in 2006, the government allocated 240 000 euros to improve the local production of children's programmes. The Culture Ministry also issued directives for 2006-2007 on how the government's subvention should be spent. The directives are aimed at "increasing programme quality and offering better service to the public". Twelve categories of cultural enhancement through broadcasting were identified, including Maltese drama, children's programmes, religious production, debate and current events.

In a report written by a local media expert for the European Journalism Centre in 2003, it was perceived that "broadcasting in Malta is to expand further". The impressive advances made by Malta in the information technology sector, including the creation of a fully fledged IT Ministry, may lead to more extensive proliferation of web-based media or companies.

Malta is a signatory to the Trans-frontier Convention of the Council of Europe and there have been proposals for Malta to become a centre for international broadcasting companies which would transmit from Malta to Europe and the rest of the world. 

Malta/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.6 Culture industries: policies and programmes

The term "culture industry" has only been gaining ground recently. The Valletta Creative Forum debate on measures to sustain the creative industries enhanced the national debate on the cultural industries. In collaboration with the Valletta Creative Forum, the Economic Policy Division within the Ministry of Finance also analysed the competitiveness of the cultural industries in Malta.

In 2003, the gross value added of cultural activities to Europe's GDP was 2.6%, while that of Malta stood at 0.2% of Malta's GDP. This was the lowest contribution towards national GDP in the EU and is indicative of the relatively small size of the arts and culture sector in Malta. Between 1999 and 2003, the overall average turnover growth rate in EU25 stood at 5.4%, whilst the turnover in Malta increased by 0.1% in the same period. This was the lowest growth rate registered in the EU; it should also be noted that the 2nd lowest growth rate was that of Denmark being 2.7%. This indicates that the cultural industry in Malta, besides being small, is also growing slowly.

The productivity in the Maltese cultural sector compares well with other EU countries. Indeed, both motion pictures and video and entertainment activities have much higher productivity. Meanwhile, radio and television and museums, libraries and archives have lower productivity than the average of the EU countries.

The analysis concludes that even though this sector is small, it is a high value added industry which currently generates substantial profit margins particularly in certain sub-sectors, namely the motion pictures and video and entertainment activities. This suggests that there is scope for further investment. Despite this potential, the vulnerability typically associated with the sector may have been a constraint to the development of this sector in the Maltese economy. Efforts to mitigate risks, together with consumer education necessary to build habit formation, could aid the development of this industry in the future (see 4.1 - outcome of VCF creative industry session).

The education level of Maltese currently employed in the culture and creative sector is also the lowest in Europe. The education level of cultural workers with, at most, lower second level is 11.5% whereas Malta registers 56.2%; cultural workers with upper secondary education in the EU is 41.7%, while in Malta the figure is 19.1% and the cultural workers with tertiary education in Europe reaches 46.8%, whereas Malta has 24.7% of cultural workers with a tertiary level of education.  Moreover, Malta has registered the largest EU share in arts tertiary education. There are clear indications that not only are the majority of workers in the cultural sector under qualified, but those studying the arts are not interested or not offered employment in the sector (see also 4.2.7).

Training programmes in cultural management or cultural entrepreneurship are limited to credit units at University Level. In 2006, a Masters programme in Cultural Heritage Management was launched by the University of Malta.

The Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology is increasingly offering students, in its arts and design institute, courses in business management, finance and marketing. Since the majority of these students will eventually work as self-employed or establish small business enterprises, such training is offering better career opportunities for the students.

Statistics, research and analysis of the creative sector in Malta is still in its infancy. Policy measures and strategies for the development of independent culture industries also need to be developed and regularised to address the goals of the EU Lisbon agenda. The announcement of 9 measures in the 2007 budget for the creative industries is an encouraging beginning.  During the budget speech, the Prime Minister announced that:

The government firmly believes in the potential of the creative, artistic and cultural spheres. Apart from the fact that these areas are of an intrinsic value in themselves, we feel that these spheres can greatly enhance the development of our economy and our quality of life.

Malta/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.7 Employment policies for the cultural sector

Employment in the cultural and arts sector (excluding the other entertainment sector) in Malta is mainly made up of part-time employment. In fact, in 2003, part-time employees, excluding voluntary workers, amounted to 63.5% of total employment in the sector; when allowing for voluntary workers full-time employees amounted to 24.4%. The remaining 42.4% worked on a part-time basis.

In the same year (2003), entertainment activity was the sub-sector which employed the highest number of employees in this industry (60.4%), followed by radio and television which employed 26.8% of the total sectoral employment. It should be noted that entertainment activities employed the highest number of voluntary workers, making up 85.8% of the total voluntary workers in the cultural sector. This generally reflects the traditional non-commercial and amateur approach towards art sectors such as visual arts, dance, drama and opera.

Cultural employment in the EU in 2004 accounted for 2.5% of EU total employment and, when including cultural tourism, employment in this sector goes up to 3%. In the same year, Malta's employment in the cultural sector stood at 2.1% of total employment whilst, when including cultural tourism employment, it adds up to 3.3%. This was higher than the EU average: however, this reflects the dependence of the Maltese economy on tourism.

The first employment initiative for the cultural sector was introduced in the 2007 Budget. Persons who are employed in the public sector and who are working in a semi-professional manner in the creative spheres will now be able to request leave without pay for a definite period of time in order that they may develop or work on artistic projects. This measure will enable a number of semi-professional artists to explore the potential of a career in the creative sector without risking losing their post in the public sector.

Malta/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.8 New technologies and cultural policies

Malta's cultural policy has not yet articulated measures and support systems related to information and communication technologies. New technologies are increasingly become important tools for artistic work and heritage conservation.

Private entrepreneurs have entered the cultural sector by providing support for and initiating high-tech multi-media projects, many of which are targeted at tourists. Moreover, Malta's unique Hypogeum (a prehistoric underground burial site) has been installed with digital technology to protect it environmentally.

The Malta Centre for Restoration has introduced conservation schemes, which include the use of new technologies to combine cost-effective project management in science with the latest documentation techniques.

In 2004, the government published its first National Information Technology and Communication Strategy (2004-6). The main objectives of the national plan were

Among other things, the strategy is meant to "create policies to safeguard the national heritage", enhancing its accessibility using ICT. It is also meant to encourage "quality Maltese content on the internet", by promoting translation and the use of specialised hardware and software, such as electronic dictionaries, thesauri and language codes. The strategy also states that, by the end of 2006, 60% of Maltese internet users will be connected to a broadband network.

It should be noted that by the beginning of 2006, Malta had gained top place in the world in internet penetration and growth rates. According to, Malta has the world's highest penetration with 78.3% of the population having access to the World Wide Web.

Malta/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.9 Heritage issues and policies

See also 2.2.

The main heritage issues addressed in the late 1990s were related to the difficulties encountered in the conservation and protection of Malta's vast number of sites and other historically valuable buildings, even from acts of vandalism. The country has no less than 2 025 protected cultural and archaeological sites, including a number of megalithic temples declared as world heritage. Heritage policies, since 2000, have laid emphasis on the importance of providing an exhaustive digitalised inventory of Malta's numerous assets in this respect.

A vociferous national debate concerns tourism, an extremely important industry which, in 2005-6 has shown evidence of decline. The decision, in 2006, to introduce low-cost airlines gave rise to debate on whether Malta should continue to receive mass tourists or whether it should diversify the market to cater for niche (cultural) tourists. It appears that Malta needs both categories, but the case for cultural tourism offers immense possibilities for the lean months between October and April, considering Malta's mild climate during that period.

Malta's heritage is always at the top of the country's cultural agenda. The Heritage Act of 2001 split the state-run Museums Department into two structures dealing with regulation on the one hand and operations on the other. The Superintendent for cultural heritage assumes responsibility for regulation while, Heritage Malta operates state-owned cultural sites.

The latest annual report published by Heritage Malta, covering its operations from 1 October 2005 to 30 September 2006, states that HM was involved in 219 activities and managed 24 different sites. A total of 1 076 300 visitors were registered during the year in review. This represents a substantial 10% decrease over the number of visitors registered during the previous year. 

The exhibition of the Terracotta Warriors in 2007 attracted 75 000 visitors over a five month period. Heritage Malta's educational policy led to the development of numerous school and family oriented projects.  

Private cultural heritage foundations such as Fondazzjoni Patrimonju and Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna are also assisting in the restoration of heritage sites and curating exhibitions of historical and artistic importance following the governmental policy to transfer a number of neglected properties to such organisations.

Malta/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.10 Gender equality and cultural policies

Gender issues in Malta are contained in the programmes of the National Council of Women (established in 1964), the Commission for the Advancement of Women (1988) and the Department for Women's Rights (1989). Gender policies do not feature in the Cultural Policy Document of 2001. There are no specific strategies to support women as professionals in the cultural labour market in the form of quota schemes or mainstreaming programmes. This notwithstanding, in 2002, the Ministry of Education (then also responsible for cultural affairs), in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs, organised the first-ever theatre-for-empowerment programme for female victims of domestic violence.  Through the assistance of the British Council, the pilot programme was conducted by a female animator from the Arts Council of Ireland. Another programme was initiated in 2006 by the Malta Drama Centre, applying Forum Theatre (an interactive genre which actually invites the audience on stage in order to change / modify the dramatic situation) with two respective groups of women rehabilitated in refuge homes after they sustained continuous, domestic violence.

It has been noted that more and more young women are opting for university courses and, in recent years, there has been a marked increase in female participation in evening courses in the creative arts, especially theatre and dance. Female writers are also leaving a noticeable mark. In 2006, a leading publishing house printed a cutting-edge, controversial anthology of short stories by a young female writer who broke new ground by introducing unorthodox themes like lesbianism and oppressive patriarchy. Clare Azzopardi's novel il-Linja l-Hadra also won Best Maltese novel in the 2006 National Book Awards.

Malta/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.3 Other relevant issues and debates

Other policy issues and debates concern:

Malta/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.1 Constitution

The Declaration of Principles of the Maltese Constitution, Section 8 states that: "The State shall promote the development of culture and scientific and technical research."

Malta/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.2 Division of jurisdiction

Culture is the legal competence of the state but many private entities undertake and support cultural initiatives. There is no specific legal provision for Local Councils to support cultural activities, but they set aside a percentage of their funds for cultural activity, which is monitored and audited by the Department for Local Councils. 

Decentralisation of culture is not reflected in law, nor is the relations between national cultural policies and local level activities defined by law.

As yet, there are no definite legal measures in place to ensure the continuing development of a comprehensive national cultural policy, except for the government's commitment to fund official cultural events and institutions through the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts.

The Superintendent of Heritage in Malta is responsible for reporting incidences which compromise the national heritage to the Police authorities. This also applies to the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA), a body that is committed to safeguarding the national heritage from abusive development. The Police can make direct interventions in cases of intellectual theft or act on behalf of other sectors, e.g. the Customs Department.

Malta/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.3 Allocation of public funds

Public funds for culture in Malta are allocated annually according to the Financial Estimates published and announced to Parliament by the Minister of Finance. All departments and institutions receiving public funds are guided by financial codes and are subject to scrutiny by the Office of Auditors. The cultural sector is allocated specific funds for special assistance, administered through a Cultural Support Programme by the Arts Council, intended to assist individual artists or cultural groups to materialise specific projects. The Ministry of Finance (MF) also has a special scheme to fund "good causes" and, in 2006, the first moves were undertaken to include cultural assistance under the scheme, sustained by a percentage contributed to the MF from national lotteries. The Committee regulating the National Lottery Good Causes Fund is not represented by members of government cultural agencies, the Ministry for Tourism and Culture or other cultural communities. It also has no specific criteria for project selection. 

Malta/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.4 Social security frameworks

Those officially employed in the arts and culture fall under the general legislation for social security; in other words, there is no specific social security framework for artists. There are no labour relations frameworks or standardised collective bargaining agreements for contracts between artists and state institutions. While there are a growing number of self-employed artists in the fields of drama, visual arts, music and dance, there is no specific social security legislation or measures addressing the specific needs of freelance artists.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Malta/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.5 Tax laws

There are no specific tax breaks for artists and no income averaging mechanisms available.

VAT in Malta is 18%. As from 2008:

Legal notices for the implementation of these measures still have to be published.

It should be noted that in 2004, a rebate system of 20% was introduced to boost foreign film productions. According to the scheme, a production company filming in Malta is entitled to a rebate of up to 20% of its production costs once the commitment is fully undertaken.

Malta/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.6 Labour laws

See 5.1.4.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Malta/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.7 Copyright provisions

The Parliamentary Act XIII of 2000 was amended by Act VI (2001), in order to make new provisions in respect to copyright and neighbouring rights.

Addressing the moral rights of artists and intellectuals, the amended law declares that

"it shall not be lawful for any person, including the assignee of the copyright or a licensee there under, without the author's consent, to mutilate, modify, distort or subject to any other derogatory action any work during its term of copyright, in a way prejudicial to the honour or reputation of the author".

Neighbouring rights, on the other hand, cover the nature of performers' rights, in respect of direct or indirect, temporary or permanent reproduction by any means and in any form, in whole or in part. Neighbouring rights also cover the acts of broadcasting and the communication to the public of any performance.

In accordance with the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union Directive (April 2004) on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, Malta continued to take active measures to protect intellectual rights, especially in the digital technology and software sector. However, piracy remains a problem according to many retailers.  Statistics showed that, in 2003, software piracy in Malta wiped out an estimated 2 million euros from the legitimate IT industry. The piracy rate for 2004-5 dropped slightly to 46%, the seventh highest in EU countries. To counter abuses, police officers from the Central Investigation Bureau have been receiving training from the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI). Towards the end of 2004, it was announced that those persons found guilty by the Criminal Courts of crimes against intellectual / creative property will also have to face procedures for claims against them in the Civil Courts.

Training within the Economic Crimes Unit is now an ongoing process, which is being provided by local experts who are concerned with the protection of copyright and commercial enterprises, particularly in pirated software and audio-visual CDs. Seminars on aspects of EU legislation and legal procedures are being provided to members of the judiciary and the Attorney General's office.

In 2000, the Intellectual Property Rights (Cross-Border) Measures Act came into force with immediate effect. Moreover, the University of Malta issued an Intellectual Property Statute covering ownership of all intellectual property created by a staff member in the execution or otherwise of his / her employment with the University, through efforts that make substantial use of University resources. The word "creation" is applied in the Statute to mean author, producer, inventor, designer, enhancer, generator, discoverer, conceiver, maker, originator (or other) who brings into existence a substantive intellectual Contribution, whether alone or with others.

Malta/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.8 Data protection laws

The Data Protection Act (2004) makes sure that even trainees in the cultural sector (e.g. young musicians or actors) are protected. For instance, a unit like the state-owned Drama Centre requires the express permission of its subscribers (or of parents in the case of minors) to issue publicity images to the press. Permission is also required from Care Centres if their clients, engaged in any interactive drama, singing or musical event, are to appear in the media. 

Malta/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.9 Language laws

The Protection of the Maltese Language Act was introduced in the autumn of 2003, paving the way for the setting up of the National Council for the Maltese Language in 2005. The Council regards the Maltese language as an integral part of the national heritage and is committed to its safeguarding, enhancement and proliferation in all sectors of public life.

Malta has also adopted legislation aimed at both public and private broadcasting. Article 13 (2) (d) of Chapter 350 of the Laws of Malta deals with the Broadcasting Act (1991) and declares that a proper proportion of the recorded and other matter included in the programmes should favour the Maltese language and reflect Maltese cultural identity. The latest legislative measure in the broadcasting sector was taken by virtue of Legal Notice 133 of 2002 in respect of a Broadcasting Code on the Correct Use of the Maltese Language in all the Broadcasting Media.

A new Law to Regulate, Protect and Develop the Native Language came into effect in October 2003. The legislation is expected to iron out problems relating to the translation of EU documents and will go a long way to establish proper criteria for the introduction and assimilation of "loan words" into the vernacular. The new law is also expected to compliment the terms of reference of the Translation and Law Drafting Unit that began operations in June 2001. The Unit engages about 40 translators and 10 revisers, but this is a significant shortfall from the number of personnel required to meet the workload related to the official EU status of the Maltese language. Malta also sustains another problem when it comes to official interpreters in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg; in 2005, the three seats of the EU were served only by 13 freelance interpreters working from booths and none of the institutions have permanent Maltese language interpreters. Language analysts estimate that Malta needs at least 86 interpreters everyday.

Maltese is still bound by a derogation which entered into force in 2004: EU institutions are not obliged to translate all EU legislation into Maltese, but the derogation will be up for review towards the end of 2006 (and possibly extended for another year).

Malta/ 5.2 Legislation on culture

Cultural legislation in Malta dates back to the mid 1920s, when the colonial government issued a number of ordinances, passed by the Antiquities Protection Act of 1925, and other pieces of legislation to establish the National Library, the National Archives and local libraries. Regulations are contained in:

Malta/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.1 Visual and applied arts

No specific legislation exists, but an Act of Parliament in 2002 expressed measures to safeguard and develop the interests of artisans (e.g. crafts, trades, skills and industries) who produce works reflecting national identity.

Malta/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.2 Performing arts and music

Levies on blank tapes were introduced by the Ministry of Finance in 1994. This was regarded as a positive step by the audio-visual sector, but retailers maintain that more drastic action is needed to counter piracy, especially in music.

VAT can be reclaimed for a one time purchase on a musical instrument.

Law 10.7 regulates the establishment of a Classification Board, which classifies films and stage productions.  

Malta/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.3 Cultural heritage

In 2001, Parliament passed a new Heritage Act to promote improved management, conservation and restoration of the national cultural heritage. It guarantees greater public accessibility and appreciation of Malta's cultural treasures and ensures cultural and educational benefits for future generations.

It provides for the following entities to take over from the Department of Culture:

In 2006, the National Archives and the Libraries Department became two separate entities. According to a new legislation, the National Archives has become a government agency intended to "protect collective memory". Moreover, a Council for National Archives was created in the same year, under the aegis of the Ministry of Education.

Malta/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.4 Literature and libraries

The Ordinance on Public Libraries has been in existence since 1937, as expressed in Chapter 92 of the Laws of Malta. It has been amended several times between 1955 and 1981, while the Act IV of 1990 regulates the National Archives.

In 2004, the government announced the creation of the Local Councils' Public Libraries Development Committee, with the aim of helping to coordinate the administration of local and regional libraries. An Online Public Access Catalogue has been installed in all libraries to make tracking books easier and more efficient.

In 2006, according to new legislation, the National Archives and the Public Libraries Department became two separate entities and a National Archives Council was created for consultative reasons, but was not given executive power.

In addition to the National Library, there are 8 regional and 49 local libraries in Malta, all lending books at no charge and most of them administered by the local councils. Authors do not receive any remuneration for the loan of their works.

It has been agreed that the Councils make an annual contribution for the provision of new material.

The National Library allows up to 10% of any historical volume to be reproduced for research purposes. This procedure is included in the Quality Service Charter, published in 2001.

A new Law which created the National Book Council (2005) has given a much needed boost to the problems of local literature. The Council now deals with the promotion of Maltese literature which, however, remains insulated owing to a serious lack of translated works from Maltese into other languages.

Malta/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.5 Architecture and environment

The Environment Protection Act (2001) re-enforced efforts to protect and conserve, inter alia, landscapes (including historic centres) through the establishment of an Authority for the Environment and Planning, to advise the Ministry for the Environment as well as the Ministry responsible for Culture.

In June 2006, the government issued a draft document for consultation called Operational Programme 1: Cohesion Policy 2007-2013. Priority Axis 7, contained in the Document, refers to urban regeneration and improving the quality of life and lists the following objectives:

The focus areas of intervention, as expressed in the draft document, refer to urban regeneration (including the social context), in view of the need to project Valletta as a European City of Culture, revitalise town centres, as well as protect, rehabilitate, regenerate and enhance local character.

From 2008, 0.25% of the expenditure in projects of a capital or infrastructural nature must be spent on works of art, infrastructure connected with the creative spheres or on other creative projects.

Malta/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.6 Film, video and photography

There are no film, video or photography laws in place. Malta offers a film-service industry but there is no incentive for the production of local material. The government has taken steps to create a Malta Film Commission (MFC) in order to encourage the film-service industry, by way of facilitating permits and offering incentives in the form of production rebates of up to 20%.

Film classification is regulated by the Classification Board, in consultation with the Commissioner of Police as stipulated in the legal provisions of film and theatre classification.

Malta/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.7 Culture industries

Up until now, there is no special legislation which addresses the broad concept of the culture industries.

Malta/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.8 Mass media

All policy regulations related to broadcasting in Malta are the responsibility of the Malta Broadcasting Authority. Formal laws are enacted through Parliament.

The proposed Legal Notice 158 on Broadcasting Regulations in Malta reserves an unspecified majority (not a specific proportion) of transmission time for European works. This applies to all public and private TV-stations but does not cover radio.

In 2001, Malta had 4 terrestrial and 7 cable television stations. Public broadcasting includes a national network, a community channel and an educational channel. Statistics for 1999 show that total TV and radio broadcasting time related to cultural programming (art, literature, documentaries and drama) amounted to 7 430 hours, of which local production equalled 6 661 hours. Entertainment (including film, variety shows, light music and sports) reached 52 473 hours, out of which 39 243 were produced locally. Religious programming was represented by 4 719 hours, all produced locally and related mainly to the Catholic faith, which is enshrined in Malta's Constitution.

In the first quarter of 2001, there were (out of a total population of 382 000):

The Broadcasting Act of 1991 (amended several times between 1993 and 2001) stipulates that public broadcasting in the Maltese islands should provide high quality programming across a full range of public tastes and interests. The Act declares that public broadcasting has "a particular duty to provide programming of an educational and cultural nature", and stresses the need for local preference.

In 2003, the national station, TV-Malta, firmly established itself among local audiences, consolidating its position as the primary source for news, discussion programmes and entertainment. At the same time, radio listenership reached 89.3% for musical entertainment.

National Public Broadcasting (PBS) obtains revenue from TV licences. Such a privilege however, obliges them to provide programmes which are educational and informational, in addition to being entertaining. Acknowledging the heavy financial losses experienced by the sector, the Ministry responsible for the Arts has begun a review of operations and will investigate the sustainability of state-owned stations. The Maltese Broadcasting Act is basically in line with EU legislation (for instance in advertising). In the future, the country may benefit from EU programmes, such as Media Plus, which provides funds for training and actual projects. A controversial issue in Malta relates to quality (or rather the lack of it) when it comes to local production. More and more "educated" people are abandoning local viewing and opting for Italian stations via satellite or cable systems. A report by the Broadcasting Authority, published in 2005, indicates clear unease about the situation and it displays no signs of progress. The report suggested that there was hardly any distinction between TV-Malta as a national channel and its main "rivals", two stations belonging to the respective main political parties. The Authority keeps complaining that what little there is of "extended public service obligation" (EPSO), which should include Maltese drama, is broadcast during low viewing times and that, at any rate, does not fulfil the 55% quota required by law.

Malta/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.9 Legislation for self-employed artists

There is no legislation relating to the status of the artist arts promotion in Malta.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Malta/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.10 Other areas of relevant legislation

Information is currently not available.

Malta/ 6. Financing of culture

6.1 Short overview

In the last quarter of 2003, the MCCA issued its first business and financial plan covering the period 2004-2006. Total recurrent expenditure for 2004 was 1.8 million MTL (4.3 million euros); 1.9 million MTL (4.5 million euros) for 2005 and 2.1 million MTL (5.1 million euros) for 2006. The three-year plan included initiatives that range from establishing animated school programmes in the performing arts (36 000 MTL or 90 000 euros) to a fully fledged summer arts festival with foreign participation (277 000 MTL or 664 800 euros).

Other ministries spent an additional average of MTL 2 million (4.8 million euros) of capital annually for the upkeep and conservation of historic buildings which are used for administrative and public purposes. This amount includes MTL 600 000 (1.4 million euros) which is used by a Rehabilitation Committee responsible for the restoration programmes in Valletta, Floriana, Mdina and Cottonera as key heritage cities.

The government allocates a further MTL 270 000 (675 000 euros) for national broadcasting and MTL 95 000 (237 500 euros) for Channel 22, a terrestrial station with strictly educational objectives.

In addition, a substantial number of cultural and artistic events are sponsored by an increasing number of private companies and other institutions, including banks and the national airline.

Malta/ 6. Financing of culture

6.2 Public cultural expenditure per capita

Public cultural expenditure per capita is in the region of MTL 18.9 (euros). It corresponds to 1.4% of the GDP. This excludes all refurbishment expenses relating to buildings used for cultural purposes. These expenses are published under the Environment budget.

Malta/ 6. Financing of culture

6.3 Public cultural expenditure broken down by level of government

The latest state expenditure figures (2002) for culture, including contributions by various ministries, amounted to MTL 7.2 million. This represents 0.9% of total government expenditure for that year (Source: Government Estimates 2002).

The contribution of the municipalities to the public funding of cultural and artistic activities has been increasing steadily but there are no official statistics available, nor are any statistics available for the expenditure on activity and maintenance by the Church for its cultural assets.

Malta/ 6. Financing of culture

6.4 Sector breakdown

Table 3:     State cultural budget: by sector, in MTL, 2005*

Field / Domain / Sub-domain

Total budget

% share of total*


1 300 000


Monuments and sites

1 155 000



1 100 000



18 000



657 000



100 000






457 000


Performing arts



Visual arts

179 000


Film / cinema



Radio / television

95 000


Socio-cultural activities

142 000


Expenditure on cultural activities abroad

50 000


Education and training

33 879 000



68 000


Cultural Support Programme

50 000


Department of Culture

1 342 000


Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

1 337 600 000


Cultural Expenditure excluding Education

7 800 000

0.58% of GDP

Cultural Expenditure including Education

41 630 683

3.11% of GDP

Sources:   Policy Unit, Ministry of Education, Floriana Malta; Financial Estimates 2005, Ministry of Finance; Malta Yearbook 2005, De La Salle Publications.
Note:         The newly established Malta Council for Culture and the Arts (MCCA) will assume responsibility for all government-sponsored cultural funding and will implement Malta's cultural policy as discussed with stakeholders. It is also to be noted that Culture in Malta benefits generally from private sponsorship as well as from programmes conducted in association with foreign cultural entities on the island. For the recurrent expenditure envisaged by the MCCA on cultural and artistic events for the period 2004-2006 see 6.1 above.
*            Excluding expenditure on education and training

Malta/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.1 Re-allocation of public responsibilities

The government is promoting the notion of autonomy through the creation of a number of state-funded foundations and other structures (e.g. Heritage Malta, the Foundation for the Centre for Creativity, the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, etc.). These bodies are given the power to initiate new partnerships with the private sector without the need to refer to bureaucratic practice, which has often proved stifling and frustrating. However, the Ministry for Tourism and Culture often takes steps to ensure the effectiveness of the arms-length policy.

In recent years, the organisation of certain events developed by the Ministry for Tourism and Culture and the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts has been outsourced to private companies. The Malta International Jazz Festival was outsourced to NNG promotions, whereas the MTV concert in 2007 was organised by G7 promotions. The Ministry has also partially funded other mass popular music events organised by the same and other event organisers.

The role of National Coordinating Body for the 2008 European Year for Intercultural Dialogue has been delegated to St. James Cavalier. 

In 2007, the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts was still undergoing its restructuring exercise. Its effectiveness as an autonomous organisation for the development of the arts and its ambiguous role as events organiser still have to be clarified.

Malta/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.2 Status/role and development of major cultural institutions

The government has traditionally been responsible for national cultural institutions. They receive regular funding as approved annually by the Parliament on the recommendations of the Ministry of Finance. Such national institutions include: the Manoel (National) Theatre, the National Orchestra, State Museums, the National Library, the National Archives, the Centre for Creativity and (since 2005) the National Council for the Maltese Language and the National Book Council. Since the functions of these institutions had often been debated, the government provided them with legal status and autonomy while monitoring operations at arm's length.

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.

Malta/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.3 Emerging partnerships or collaborations

The government promotes sustainable development in cultural matters. The main obstacles lie in the lack of qualified human resources and an almost complete absence of cultural management training. The now-extinct Department of Culture found it difficult to draw up affirmative action policies, especially when it came to criteria for building new partnerships to promote the essential strategies for strengthening the right to participate in a creative, pro-active cultural life. However, it should be said that the Department of Culture was virtually the only official entity which saw that Malta had its regular measure of cultural activities, including national festivities like Carnival and the summer arts festival, incorporating an international jazz event.

Cultural organisations are actively seeking business partnerships with private organisations. Examples of these partnerships include the restoration of the Manoel Theatre supported by the Malta International Airport, Heritage Malta projects which involved the support of HSBC, other restoration programmes supported by Bank of Valletta and creativity projects devised by St. James Cavalier which were supported by more than six private companies. Partnerships are often developed for funding purposes however, more collaboration to integrate creativity in the business environment is a recommendation proposed by the Valletta Creative Forum to pursue in the coming months. In 2007, the Valletta Creative Forum collaborated directly with a number of stakeholders ranging from Ministries, NGOs and business organisations.

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 Medina 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."

Malta/ 8. Support to creativity and participation

8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

Since 1987, the Department of Culture had run a special support programme to assist artists and writers with specific projects. Following the creation of the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, this programme became part of its legal obligations. In 2007, the Cultural Support Programme had MTL 20 000 (euro 46 586) at its disposal. Even though the MCCA is the only legally recognised national arts funding organisation, their limited funds are only able to support a few artistic projects. Artists and cultural organisations often resort to other government and private funding sources.

The Ministry for Tourism and Culture often supports ad hoc cultural initiatives and personal endorsements by the Minister for Culture. The National Lotteries Good Causes Fund is increasingly becoming the prime cultural funder in Malta. In 2007, the programme distributed more than 395 000 euro to artists and cultural organisation.

Other specific funds were created to support literary creations and cultural research through the Literary Awards Scheme where the best works of poetry, novel-writing, dramatic texts, researched material, translations and children's literature are awarded annually. The Ministry of Education allocates 24 000 euro annually to the National Book Awards, Literary Award Scheme.

Until 2005, another euro 24 000 were being reserved for the annual scriptwriting competition awarding the best three theatrical works written in Maltese, with additional funds allocated for the actual production of the first-placed entry. The official argument against the elimination of this award is that this sector was showing signs of crises and added to the general sense of malaise assailing local drama forms, a condition that the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts (MCCA) has promised to tackle.

There are no formal specific indirect support schemes available for artists at the moment. Ministries and government agencies frequently offer young artists their halls as spaces for exhibitions and performances.

The inclusive policy adopted by St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity allows artists to use all its rehearsal spaces for free. Rental of space is also heavily subsidised for young artists or those embarking on innovative projects.

Malta/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.1 Special artists funds

The Cultural Support Fund administered by the MCCA provides 46 586 euro per year for specific private projects, like the staging of exhibitions, theatrical events and musical concerts.

In 2007, the Prime Minister announced the creation of two national funds. In order to provide incentives for Maltese film productions, a Film Fund is to be set up in order to give the required incentives for Maltese film productions. The government is allocating the sum of 100 000 MTL (232 900 euro) for the establishment of the fund.

The 2008 budget also projects the establishment of an Arts Fund in order to assist in the artistic and cultural development of Malta. This fund is going to be set up with an initial grant of 100 000 MTL (euro 232 900). Legal frameworks, selection criteria and objectives of the funds are currently being drafted by the EU Affairs, Policy and Implementation Directorate within the Ministry for Tourism and Culture.

Malta/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.2 Grants, awards, scholarships

The Ministry for Education, Youth and Employment is responsible for the provision of grants and scholarships, literary awards, as well as the sponsorship of awards to students and teachers in state and private schools. The Ministry nominates candidates for scholarships in Britain, Canada and New Zealand. The average number of nominees is 90, distributed almost equally between both sexes. Other scholarships of a cultural nature are distributed through the Scholarships Section of the Foreign Affairs Department of Malta and the International Department and Student Services at the Division of Education.

The Minister of Education and Youth has special funds of approx. MTL 40 000 (96 000 euros) to be used at his own discretion for worthy initiatives.

Grants for new-comers and established artists, as well as scholarships for further training, travel bursaries or residency programmes, are also provided in part by foreign bodies.

On the basis of reciprocal agreements signed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all major foreign embassies in Malta provide some form of sponsorship, mainly in the field of musical training. Another very important agreement is with Italy, a country that receives a constant flow of young Maltese people to train in areas such as the fine arts, music, and restoration and, less frequently, theatre techniques.

Prior to the discontinuation of the Chevening Scholarships programme awarded by British Council Malta, young professionals in cultural management and film studies were supported in their post-graduate studies.

Malta/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.3 Support to professional artists associations or unions

There are no professional artists' associations or unions in Malta. Members of the National Orchestra are affiliated to the General Workers Union. 

In recent years, a number of artists have created different art collectives to create collective arts projects.

Malta/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.1 Trends and figures

There are no surveys monitoring the participation of immigrant groups in the cultural life of the community, nor are there statistics for the composition of the audience at multi-cultural festivals.

According to the results of the Kultura 2000 survey at the start of the 21st century:

Please notice that since the time of the survey, the situation has changed for the better in certain aspects, for instance as regards internet use. A survey conducted by the National Office of Statistics in 2006 found out that 61% of Maltese households are connected to broadband internet and that the majority of products purchased via internet are books, magazines, films and music (in that order). On the other hand, statistics showed in 2006 that almost half of the Maltese people have never travelled abroad.

The survey published in 2006 showed that theatre productions are increasingly addressed to a socially elitist minority, with ticket costs making it highly inaccessible to a wider public. Maltese theatre audiences prefer comedies to any type of performance; comic fare accounted for 21.1% of the total theatre attendance. In 2005, there were 474 performances produced in Malta, including drama, comedies, musical theatre and concerts, but very few productions were original. Opera marked the lowest attendance.

Another survey showed that at the start of the new century, the total number of dance students in Malta amounted to 2 118, while part-time drama students in 2005 amounted to 750, with 293 attending the state-run Drama Centre, an institution that offers entrance to foreign drama exams assessed by London-based examiners. In 2006, 92% of drama students sitting for the London Academy of Dance and Dramatic Arts exams through the Centre obtained a grade of distinction. It is important to point out that there are no full-time courses for the performing arts in Malta, although there have been moves by the Ministry of Education in 2005 to explore the possibility of instituting a college for the creative arts, incorporating visual art, classical ballet, modern dance, drama and music.

The town or village annual festa, staged in honour of a patron Saint, remains a very prominent feature in the cultural calendar of the Maltese people. In 2005, 6.1% of Malta's population was actively engaged in events related to the local festa, including participation in local bands and organising committees. Figures for 2005 show that the Maltese spent MTL 668 144 (1 666 288 euros) on local festas: 28.1% on street activities, 13.2% on illuminations and 11.2% on band performances and choirs. Religious festivals, a strong feature in Malta's cultural calendar, attracted 5 750 direct, secular participants in 2005, 4 511 of whom were males. The number of band concerts in festas in 2005 was 393.

An indispensable feature of the Maltese festa is the elaborate pyrotechnic display. This is another issue of contention, since enthusiasts persist in the production of heavy petards with no aesthetic value and which harm the environment, besides creating much nuisance to the sick and the elderly. To counter this obsession with futile noise, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture is actively encouraging artistic fireworks. The first edition of the Malta International Fireworks Festival was introduced in 2006, in collaboration with the Malta Pyrotechnics Association. The festival included mechanical ground fireworks and spectacular pyro-musical displays and the general public was invited to select the best display by televoting.

In 2003, the government introduced free e-mail services: anyone can obtain a free e-mail address from their local council.  There are internet centres in all local council offices. Malta also has registered a high percentage of cable television users (73%). The computer situation in Maltese schools is also favourable: with just seven primary students to each computer. Given these figures, Malta was leading in Europe, together with Luxembourg, in the first half of 2003.

The setting up of the Ministry of Industry & Investment (2003), to deal with information technology, was welcomed by the industry sector and is seen as important step towards putting Malta firmly on the ICT map.

Participation figures for the Maltese Islands

According to statistics issued by the National Office of Statistics (NOS), the Maltese Islands have 13 art museums, 9 archaeological and history museums, 5 ethnographic and anthropological museums and 8 main monumental sites.

The results of a Planning Authority (PA) Survey outlined the current trend of popular and cultural activity in the Maltese Islands. Going to the theatre, together with visiting museums and historical sites are activities enjoyed by 20% of the population, while 10% prefer library activities. Another 33% are keen on cinema, while 13% have indicated their preference for discos and night clubs. The PA Survey shows that additional facilities are seriously required at museums, archaeological and historical sites, including more interactive activities to attract more attention and more visitors.

The results of the NSO Report 2000 demonstrates that, in 1999, there were 266 libraries in the Maltese Islands and library holdings in the same year (including audio-visual material) totalled 2 576 202 items, from which there were 783 648 loans. Considering their much more limited availability, CD-ROMs are fast becoming favourites: in 1999 1 805 CD-ROMs were borrowed from their libraries in comparison to 1 139 the previous year.

Malta/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.2 Policies and programmes

The free events organised by the Ministry for Tourism and Culture draw large crowds to popular cultural manifestations. In 2007, the Notte Bianca all-night cultural event in Valletta was attended by 76 000 people, whereas 40 000 attended the MTV concert. A statement issued by the Ministry for Tourism and Culture stated that "the present administration is doing its utmost to increase the people's awareness of culture."

Heritage Malta has also introduced a year family pass to access all historical sites at minimal cost. Heritage Malta also runs a comprehensive education programme for school children. St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity is also increasing participation via reduced ticket prices for students and senior citizens. Students can also purchase tickets using their SMART cards. This card works like a debit card system, whereby a monthly stipend provided by the state is given to post-secondary and tertiary education students for educational purposes. In 2007, the centre has also welcomed more than 12 000 students for its creativity programmes, ranging from story-telling, film and literature programmes to drama and music performances. The Manoel Theatre is also increasing its programming in theatre for children. In 2007, the theatre commissioned an adaptation of the Magic Flute with the objective of introducing opera to children.  

Malta/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.1 Arts education

Since the year 2000, there have been an increasing number of private schools offering dance and theatre courses for children and adolescents, while the state-owned Drama Centre has opened its doors for adults to enrol in drama courses for personal development. Performance based indicators also signal that the Manoel Theatre is targeting children from the start of the season 2006-2007 so as to confront the crisis of dwindling patronage for serious drama.

The National Curriculum Conference (2000) identified a series of measures which are negatively affecting creativity in the Maltese educational system such as: a rigid timetable, formal class-management protocol, syllabus overload, discouragement of students from taking ownership of learning, emphasis on competition and external rewards and teachers' own limitations in the creative sector.

Since then, the national curriculum has set standards which legitimise the creative exploration of culture:

In 2002, the Curriculum Management Programme of the Education Division introduced the post of "creativity teachers" with the aim of accelerating artistic development in schools. The current number of 20 creativity teachers in 2003 is planned to increase to 120 in the next few years, thus reaching out to all areas in Malta and Gozo. In 2003, a report was submitted to the Ministry of Education, proposing the setting up of a Directorate to cater for cultural education in state, private, independent and Church schools. Meanwhile, animation sessions for children are being held regularly at the Creativity Centre in Valletta, linking art and drama with issues such as eco-tourism, heritage protection and environmental concerns. Weekend Creativity programmes through dance and drama were introduced at the Malta Drama Centre in 2005, while the Art School commenced a summer school programme in 2006. Interactive schemes for children were introduced in 2005 by the National Orchestra. In 2006, the Manoel Theatre, faced with a dwindling number of patrons for its theatre repertoire, announced that it would launch its own strategy to cater for young audiences.

Initial provisions are being made to connect schools electronically. The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology currently provides computer-generated art training, however, focused mostly on the requirements of the commercial sector. Privately run new technology courses are widespread but very few are connected to artistic creativity.

Malta/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.2 Intercultural education

Intercultural education in Malta is part of the general school set-up and the curriculum does involve provisions for intercultural education. In fact, the Ministry of Education and Youth issued a Policy Paper (2004) declaring intercultural, inclusive policy as one of its main objectives on a national level. The main tenets of this policy entail shared national values and identity, the promotion of tolerance and equality. Students of a foreign origin, mainly African, attending state schools, show a natural preference for learning native Maltese and often use it socially. On the other hand, a privately run International School of English offers a different, multilingual environment.

Examples of initiatives taken by specialised schools to introduce artistic experiences from other parts of the world can be quoted from the programmes at the Malta Drama Centre (African programmes featuring drama and drum dancing or dramatised poetry from Palestine). However, such activities are not yet strongly embedded as part of the minimum national curriculum. At the pre-university level, a subject called Systems of Knowledge does focus on efforts to develop cultural citizenship as part of arts / cultural education aimed at increasing students' knowledge of human rights, citizens' rights and responsibilities, understanding of different world religions and influences of different cultures within a given society.

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section

Malta/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.1 Amateur arts

Due to a lack of professional, legal and employment frameworks to recognise art as a profession, the arts in Malta still operate on a relatively amateur level. The majority of artists work on a semi-professional level, with only few earning an income from their creative work. 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 which 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. Amateur artists do not receive financial support from the government.

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) and theatre (e.g. Friends of the Manoel Theatre).

Malta/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs

In 2005, membership in band clubs stood at 27 042, with 3 007 resident amateur musicians known as bandist.i. 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. NGOs with a cultural bias (not including welfare organisations) registered an expenditure of MTL 540 000 (1.3 million euros) in 2000.

These figures are indeed high but it should be noted that they are mostly connected with band club activity, which includes the organisation of the traditional Maltese festa in respective towns or villages. Membership, it should also be noted, could be passive rather than proactive. No percentage breakdown is given as to the nature of the active involvement of such members.

Malta/ 9. Sources and Links

9.1 Key documents on cultural policy

The Ministry of Education and Culture (Policy Unit): Il-Politika Kulturali f'Malta - Cultural Policy in Malta, A Discussion Document. Malta: Ministry of Education and Culture, 2001. Revised in 2002.

Act N. V of 2002 (Laws of Malta): Malta Council for Culture and the Arts. Malta: Government Press, 2002.

Act N. VI of 2002 (Laws of Malta): Cultural Heritage Act. Malta: Government Press, 2002.

National Office of Statistics: Kultura 2000. Malta: NOS, 2002.

Parliamentary Secretariat for Youth and Sport (Ministry of Education): Youth Policy in Malta. Malta: Printwell Ltd., 1999.

The Ministry of Education and Culture: Interventi - Id-Diskorsi Ewlenin tal-Konferenza Nazzjonali dwar l-Istrategija Lingwistika ghal Malta (Interventions - Key Speeches at the National Conference on Malta's Linguistic Strategy). Malta: Ministry of Education, 2002.

The Ministry of Education, Youth & Employment: For All Children to Succeed - A New Network Organisation for Quality Education in Malta. Malta: Ministry of Education, 2005.

The Ministry of Education, Youth & Employment: Inclusive and Special Education Review. Malta: Ministry of Education, 2005.

The Ministry for Tourism and Culture: National Strategy for Cultural Heritage. Malta: Ministry for Tourism and Culture, 2006.

The Ministry for Tourism and Culture: Malta's National Tourism Plan. Malta: Ministry for Tourism and Culture, 2006.

Heritage Malta: Annual Report 2005 - 2006. Malta: Heritage Malta 2007.

Ministry of Finance: Financial Estimates 2007. Malta: Budget Office, 2006.

Ministry of Finance 2008 pre-budget document available from

Ministry of Finance: Budget 2008. Malta: Budget Office, 2007.

Azzopardi, Mario (ed.): Malta - An Intimate Survey. Malta: Merlin Library, 1993.

Azzopardi, Mario: It-Teatru f'Malta (Theatre in Malta). Malta: Pubblikazzjonijiet Indipendenza (PIN), 2003.

Boissevain, Jeremy: Saints and Fireworks. Religion and Politics in Rural Malta. Malta: Progress Press Co. Ltd., 1993.

Brincat, Joseph M.: L-Istorja tal-Kitba Maltija (The History of Maltese Writing). Malta: Pubblikazzjonijiet Indipendenza (PIN), 2001.

Buhagiar, Mario: The Late Medieval Architecture of the Maltese Islands. Malta: Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, 2005.

Busuttil, George N & PACE, Victor (eds.): Proceedings and Report - Convention of Leaders of Associations of Maltese Abroad and of Maltese Origin. Malta: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2000.

Camilleri, Priscilla & Gatt, Patricia (eds): Malta & the Arts - Perspectives for the New Millenium, Proceedings of a National Conference. Malta: Ministry of Education, 1999.

Camilleri, Maroma & Vella Therese: Celebratio Amicitie - Essays on Maltese Culture. Malta: Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, 2006.

Cassar Pullicino, Joseph: Studies in Maltese Folklore. Malta: University Press, 1992.

Clews, Stanley J.A. (ed.): Malta Year Book 2002. Malta: De la Salle Brothers' Publications, 2002.

Cortis, Toni (ed.): L-Identita' Kulturali ta' Malta (The Cultural identity of Malta); Malta: Dipartiment ta' l-Informazzjoni, 1989.

Cortis, Tony et al.: Melitensium Amor - Festschrift. Malta: The Editors, Gutenberg Press, 2002.

Cremona, John J.: The Carnival of Malta. In: Cortis T. et al. (ed.): Melitensium Amor. Malta: Gutenberg Press Ltd., 2002.

Everitt, Anthony: Report on Malta's National Cultural Policy. Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 2002.

Frendo, Henry & Friggieri, Oliver (eds.): Malta - Lejn Definizzjoni Storika-Kulturali (Malta - Towards an Historical Definition). Malta: Publishers Enterprises Group (PEG) Ltd., 1995.

Friggieri, Joe (ed): Kultura 21 - official magazine of the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts. Malta, Progress Press.

Mifsud Chircop, Gorg (ed): Rituals: Proceedings of the First International Conference on The Year of Rituals. Malta: PEG Publishers, 2005.

Giordmaina, Joseph (ed.): National Curriculum on its Way. A Conference on the Implementation of the National Curriculum. Proceedings. Malta: Gutenberg Press, 2000.

Lanfranco, Guido: Drawwiet u Tradizzjonijiet Maltin (Folklore and Traditions in Malta). Malta: Pubblikazzjonijiet Indipendenza (PIN), 2001.

Montebello, Mark F: Il-Ktieb tal-Filosofija f'Malta (The Book of Philosophy in Malta), Vol.1&2. Malta: Pubblikazzjonijiet Indipendenza (PIN), 2001.

Schiavone, Michael J. & Scerri, Louis J.: Maltese Biographies of the Twentieth Century. Malta: Pubblikazzjonijiet Indipendenza (PIN), 1997.

Vella Bondin, Joseph: Il-Muzika ta' Malta sa l-Ahhar tas-Seklu Tmintax (Music in Malta to the End of the Eighteenth Century). Malta: Pubblikazzjonijiet Indipendenza (PIN), 2000.

Vella Bondin, Joseph: Il-Muzika ta' Malta fis-Sekli Dsatax u Ghoxrin (Music in Malta during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries); Malta: Pubblikazzjonijiet Indipendenza (PIN), 2000.

Xuereb, Paul: Treasures of Malta: A Quarterly Review of Maltese Culture. Malta: Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti / Ministry of Tourism, since 1994.

ZARB, Tarcisio: Folklore of an Island; Malta: Publishers Enterprising Group (PEG) Ltd., 1998.

Malta/ 9. Sources and Links

9.2 Key organisations and portals

Cultural policy making body

Ministry for Tourism and Culture

Superintendence for Cultural Heritage

Malta Council for Culture & the Arts

Professional cultural organisations

Heritage Malta

St. James Cavalier - Centre for Creativity

National Orchestra

Teatru Manoel

Grant-giving bodies

Malta Vodafone Foundation

National Lotteries Good Causes Fund

Cultural research and statistics

National Statistics Office Malta

Maltese Department of Information

Culture / arts portals

Malta Cultural Contact Point

Media Programme

Malta Festivals

Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti

Fondazzjoni wirt artna


The Council of Europe/ERICarts "Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 9th edition", 2008