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A more sustainable Carnival

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

The Maltese Carnival (il-Karnival ta’ Malta) is one of the oldest cultural festivals in Malta with almost five centuries of documented history dating back to times of the Knights of St John. This major cultural event will benefit from an investment of €1.2 million worth of modern tractors and trailers that will raise the quality and standards, not only from the logistical/safety point of view, but also in terms of less impact on the environment.

In the upcoming edition of the Maltese Carnival, which will take place during this very same month, Festivals Malta will be in a position to use 20 new tractors equipped with modern technology. The Carnival participants will use these vehicles to transport their trailers from their warehouses to Valletta and, during Carnival celebrations, they will be able to navigate their floats around the streets of Valletta in the safest way possible. This investment also includes 20 new trailers that will be used as of next year.

These vehicles, 40 in total, are more superior, from the environmental point of view, than what was being used until this day. They do less harm to the environment, are noise-free, and are safer.

Through this initiative, the Government is tangibly continuing to move forward in its aim towards more sustainable festivals that reduce the negative impact on the environment. Carnival enthusiasts dedicate a lot of their time to this important event, for whom it is not merely a tradition or a pastime but constitutes a significant part of their lives; therefore, these 20 trailers and 20 tractors will undoubtedly make a marked difference for the better.

Apart from the acquisition of the vehicles, Festivals Malta will be allocating a number of containers scattered along the streets of Valletta, in which organic waste, plastic, and tins will be collected and separated. This way, Festivals Malta will serve once again as a platform for change for more sustainable festivals from the environmental point of view.

I want to thank the many volunteers from the bottom of my heart for their dedication and time in preparing for this event, which brings together a number of different talents and skills.

The biggest Carnival celebrations and events in Malta take place in Valletta's Independence Square. Prizes are given out for the best costumes, artistic dances, grotesque masks, and floats. Although Valletta and Floriana are the main venues for Carnival celebrations, other towns and villages in Malta and Gozo hold their own events.

Carnival is indeed one of the most important festivals in the Maltese cultural calendar. The last two years were definately not easy, but in the end, the Maltese and Gozitan people can, once again, enjoy this event that is close to people's hearts, particularly those of a younger age.

But this is not the only good news for the hundreds of Carnival enthusiasts; a few days ago when the new package of European Funds was being launched, the Carnival Village project (now named Culture and Arts Hub) in Marsa was specifically referred to by name and singled out.

The land for this project, which amongst other things will provide much needed imħażen for the Carnival participants, has already been identified in Marsa (near Millenia), and is already in the Ministry’s possession. It is as close as possible to Valletta, and this factor - usually the biggest challenge in any project - has already been overcome. Everything is ready so that we swiftly apply for the relevant strand in the recently unveiled EU funding programmes and turn this wish into reality.

In this way, this project will join the series of infrastructural projects in the field of culture which have been carried out in the past years through EU funding. The most notable examples are MUŻA (the new Community Museum of Arts), the restoration of Fort St Angelo, the restoration of Fort St Elmo, the restoration of the catacombs of Saint Paul in Rabat and the Valletta Design Cluster. These are all projects which have added immense value to the cultural and touristic product in Malta.

Current projects which are utilising EU funding from the “old” programme and which are nearing completion in varying degrees are the Malta International Contemporary Art Space project in Floriana, the restoration of the Grandmaster’s Palace and the upgrade at the Maritime Museum in Birgu, the latter through Norwegian Funds. These are all legacies that a Labour Government will leave behind in the cultural field.

Through the new funding programme which was unveiled last week, we aim to add the new Carnival project (the Culture and Arts Hub) and, of course, the restoration of Villa Guardamangia to the list of projects which we have delivered to the public throughout our tenure in office.

Hard work at Arts Council

This week, Arts Council Malta launched its calendar of works for the year 2023. This calendar focuses on Arts Council Malta’s strategy and funding, as well as making reference to Arts Council Malta’s events and campaigns through which it will deliver its vision and implement the 2025 Strategy.

Arts Council Malta serves as an important driver for the cultural and creative sector as it continues to create more platforms and synergies for the benefit of the sector; it was announced that this calendar would include 17 funding schemes, 9 of which are entirely new. We invest in this sector because we want to continue to increase its accessibility and professionalisation.

This Government is committed to creating a sustainable cultural ecosystem. These types of schemes should lead to a more robust cultural sector, which is crucial in a healthy society. An enlightened society leads to a culture of openness, innovation and creativity

Of course we will provide more details throughout the year of the various programmes. This is all hard work by the people working at ACM but it is worthwhile as it goes to support and assist long lists of groups of creatives who keep local traditions going and invent new creative expressions in the various artistic genres.

Year after year, we will continue working on projects and continue pushing boundaries whilst exploring new horizons. I encourage more artists and creative persons to reach out to Arts Council Malta and explore the various resources as well as opportunities available.


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