Minister for Gozo Anton Refalo and Albert Marshall, chairman of the Arts Council Malta launched The Gozo Cultural Support Programme.
This initiative, which is being monitored by Arts Council Malta and the Ministry for Gozo, supports the Victoria International Arts Festival, Gaulitana as well as the opera productions of the Aurora and Astra theatres. A total of €230,000 is being allocated annually to support these artistic organisations for a three-year programme.
Minister Refalo noted that all four are well-established platforms promoting artistic excellence as well as internationalisation by inviting foreign artists of repute and encouraging established and emerging artists from Malta and Gozo. They also have far-reaching engagement with the community, recruiting hundreds of volunteers, who participate in various stages of the productions.
Gaulitana: A Festival of Music, now in its tenth edition, runs in Gozo during Easter time and includes a full-scale opera production. Presenting a varied range of musical genres, the music festival also includes an educational programme which promotes cultural engagement through school workshops and events.
With an uninterrupted 18-year run, the Victoria International Arts Festival (VIAF) aims to consolidate the cultural and educational ethos of the VIAF and to enhance Gozo as a destination of culture.
Harnessing the energy of between 500-600 volunteers, the opera houses – both located in the capital Victoria – have been staging international-calibre productions for years. Their mix of local and international, established and emerging artists make for a spectacle that provides Gozo with its main cultural fixture every year. Each opera house puts on at least one fully staged opera a year, often with international soloists.
Minister Refalo said that the aim of the Gozo Cultural Support Programme is to enrich Gozo’s cultural programme but also to support and develop the organisations through capacity building and advance planning. Albert Marshall added that Arts Council Malta will also provide cultural management training to the four organisations.
"The initiative is in line with the aims of Arts Council Malta’s Strategy2020 by helping to professionalise the sector, by directly addressing creative professionals and communities identified in the strategy and by supporting the internationalisation of the sector".
Minister Refalo concluded that a rich cultural and artistic calendar - which achieves ever higher levels of excellence and professionalization – is also set to attract both Maltese and international audiences, boosting the island’s cultural tourism appeal.