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Owen Bonnici – (Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts, and the Local Government.)

The total increase of the financial allocation for arts and culture for the year 2023 compared to the last budget of a PN administration (the budget for the year 2013) is a whopping 150%.

The recurrent allocation alone for 2023 – EUR 60 million – is already double the total amount of funds (recurrent and capital) invested by a Nationalist Administration in their last budget.

The allocation for next year (a total of almost EUR 85 million) reprensents a 7.5% increase over last year.

All this is happening in an immediate post-pandemic period, with a war between Russia and Ukrain affecting the markets and energy prices all over the world. At the same time our public finances are in order and well within the fiscal criteria imposed by the European Commision.

This is what taking culture and the arts seriously looks like.


One of the most beautiful things which our work gives us is the opportunity to give back to the public restored open spaces in the name of culture and the arts.

Just like Valletta Design Cluster has been regenerated and given back to the families after years of abandon (you all remember the state the Old Abattoir was in) , we will be rehabilitating more old and historical buildings and patrimonial spaces to give value and purpose and reach the expectations of our people and of the artistic and creative sector.

The ultimate purpose is to improve the sustainability of our country's historical heritage while making it more accessible to the public in general and to the tourists who visit our country. By strengthening our culture, we will continue to create places and spaces where families can enjoy the beauty of these unique historical aspects that this country offers.

During the next year, we are aiming to complete the galleries and the sculpture garden of the Space for Contemporary Art of Malta in Floriana whilst giving it back to the people, in phases, a total of 12 acres of regenerated spaces.

The gallaries and the garden amount to almost 4 acres of regenerated space.

We are seeing those sites, that as of to date, are either derelict or otherwise not even accessible, will be given back to the families and tourists who visit us. This part of the project is being financed by European Union funds with a total of €14 million, but also, in the same area, a further investment of €4 million will be undertaken in other parts of the project while another €3 million has already been invested in the restoration of the existing bastions.


During 2022, twenty restoration projects were concluded, and for the next year we will be carrying out another twenty-five projects in different parts of Malta. During the year 2023, a total of €3.35 million will be allocated in capital funds so that this restoration work can continue to be carried out in various localities around Malta. As well as, the work on the restoration of the forts will continue, with an emphasis on the current and planned interventions of the Cottonera and Santa Margherita Lines, on the Marina area in Valletta and the restoration of Victoria Lines will enter its final phase.

During 2023, the restoration of the Jesuit Church in the City will also enter its final phase, with the work focusing on the main Church. The restoration of the facades of the Church of Gieżu in Valletta has also begun, whilst by the middle of the year, the restoration and consolidation of the Chapel of the Annunciation in the limits of Siġġiewi will commence. I would like to also remark the continuation restoration works in the Grand Master's Palace, a very well managed project that will return to Maltese and tourists, the Palace as it was in times of the Order of St. John. There is also work ongoing on the Tas-Silġ project, which is spread over a period of years and divided into different phases.

Another project is that of the rehabilitation of Villa Guardamangia. After the death of Queen Elizabeth II, international interest in Villa Guardamangia was rekindled, surveys and other necessary studies were completed, while the necessary permit was issued by the Planning Authority.

All this was done in preparation for the necessary investment from European funds to develop the building's potential and preserve the historical value that intrinsically links our country to the Royal family of the United Kingdom.

Culture Pass

Culture Pass was launched once again. With this initiative, students are being offered a cultural and artistic experience while professionals are being encouraged to create and develop works for a young audience as well as adding cultural programs to the students' curriculum.

It is worth noting that over the last 5 years a total of 171 productions were produced to which 155,944 students have attended for. These are very encouraging figures which motivates us to work harder. One remains confident that the 46 projects that are prepared for the rest of this year and next year will reach the largest number of small audiences which allows them, not only to learn and absorb the artistic message from a young age, but also absorb the beauty of art and culture.


During the next year the platforms of the cultural and creative sector will be strengthened.

We have the mission of continuously promoting the local creative and cultural industries on an international platform.

For the first time in the history of our country, Malta will take part in the London Design Biennale to serve as a showcase for the sector and the artistic and creative field of our country, whilst works are underway for the participation of Malta at the Venice Biennale for the next edition held in 2024.

The Government will continue to recognize the role of volunteers in musical societies and associations linked to festas in towns and villages and that we will continue to remain present, side by side with them.

I would like to thank all the people who work in the various entities which form part of the portfolio, the Permanent Secretary and my staff. The biggest thank you goes to Alison Zerafa Civelli, the hard-working Parliamentary Secretary in charge of Local Government who commands enormous respect and is very focused and professional in her approach.

We are doing all this to see Malta nurture creativity, innovation, and talent in general. We will keep on working hard and we will keep on delivering.

As Rumi, the famed poet, aptly states: Close your eyes, fall in love and stay there.

That is our invite for the people at large in so far as culture and the arts are concened.

Fall in love with creativity and make it part of you.


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