Owen Bonnici – (Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts, and the Local Government.)
It was the night that was! Notte Bianca 2022 was a great success. We had told you that it was going to be the biggest one yet, and we did not disappoint! We kept our word.
Indeed the Maltese people and a lot of tourists enthusiastically attended to the event after two years of absence. This year I believe that we exceeded all expectations in the organization and the quality of the productions presented.
Around 85,000 people attended, in itself a record number for Notte Bianca. The night provided a platform for over 50 events produced by a crew of over 300 people, and around 548 artists.
Notte Bianca is of course primarily an event in which we showcase and celebrate Maltese culture, in its different forms, through numerous events around Valletta.
The popularity of Notte Bianca 2022 is a resounding testament to the Maltese people's passion for culture and the arts. I sincerely appreciate Festivals Malta’s dedication to organizing this year's Notte Bianca so that it could make such a triumphant return.
We built on our experience to bring out the very best. Most of the projects were made expressly for Notte Bianca in collaboration with the artists. Given that the previous two years have been challenging for everyone, we felt that it was more crucial than ever to look after our audiences and performers this year.
Notte Bianca is one of the biggest festivals because many activities are held in one place, on one evening.
All this would not have been possible without the tireless work of all the team at Festivals Malta, the technical crew, and without the support of entities such as Heritage Malta, the Valletta Local Council, the Police, the Department of Civil Protection, Red Cross, St John Ambulance, Transport Malta, LESA, and the Lands Authority. The Cleansing and Maintenance Department made sure that Valletta was spick and span in a matter of a few hours.
This year's program was distributed over 7 routes linked to various art forms. The most significant route, in my opinion, was undoubtedly the music route, where around 20 projects of various genres divided between 7 stages, churches, theatres and museums were put on show.
An exhibition focusing on the archaeology of Medieval Gozo has been launched at the Ministry for Gozo. It will remain open till the end of October.
I launched this exhibition last Wednesday, along with my friend and colleague, Minister Clint Camilleri.
This exhibition clearly demonstrates the excellent relationship between two museums of Heritage Malta - the National Museum of Archeology and the Museum of Archeology of Gozo. The exhibition has also significantly benefitted from the additional collaboration of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and the Sannat Local Council.
This Exhibition is being presented to increase the public's appreciation of our country's medieval heritage – this showcase the importance of investment in such exhibitions; similar exhibitions have always maintained the cultural life.
This exhibition wishes to draw the public’s attention to Gozo’s medieval millennium, which is, in many ways, uncharted territory. No secure historical information exists on Gozo before the mid-13th century.
After that date, information starts becoming sporadically available, but only for limited aspects of social life. Gozo irretrievably lost most of its medieval archives and artistic heritage in the dramatic invasion of 1551 – it was as if a millennium had been erased from the historical record. Archaeology, therefore, plays a vital role in filling out some of these historical gaps.
The exhibition, An Island in Transition – 700 to 1700 AD: The Archaeology of Medieval Gozo, was first inaugurated in October 2021 at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta, where it attracted popular and critical attention. We felt that we should also put the exhibition on display in Gozo as well.
It is the second event in the Medieval Malta exhibition series, an initiative of Heritage Malta and the National Museum of Archaeology aimed at promoting greater public appreciation of Malta’s medieval heritage.
The first exhibition was dedicated to the archaeology of Malta’s Dark Ages (9th to 10th century AD).
Entrance to the exhibition is free of charge. Opening times are as follows: From Monday to Friday 08:30 – 16:00 (last admission at 15:30); Saturdays and Sundays 09:00 – 13:00.
An exhibition documenting the post-war refuge sought by the Dominican community at the Inquisitor’s Palace
Another exhibition was launched, this time with Parliamentary Secretary Alison Zerafa Civelli, at the Inquisitor’s Palace in Birgu.
It recounts the nearly 20-year-long story of when the neighbouring Dominican community, together with some brave friars, sought refuge inside the palace. At the same time, their church and convent were being rebuilt after being ravaged during World War II.
Inquisitors and the Dominicans of Birgu enjoyed a fruitful relationship for centuries. During the early years of the Inquisition, when the palace was much smaller, the Dominican church and convent often hosted the Inquisitors themselves, providing space where important meetings could be held. Several Dominican friars served as consultors and officers of the Inquisition without claiming any payment for their services. In return, Inquisitors assisted in the Dominicans’ needs and projects.
This collaboration came somewhat to a standstill in 1798, with the departure of the last Inquisitor, but World War II brought the neighbours together once more. In 1941, the enemy bombing left the Dominican community of Birgu without a convent and a church, spurring the friars to seek temporary refuge beyond Birgu. However, a sense of duty to fulfil their mission within their community led them back to Birgu, where they asked to make quick use of the Inquisitor’s Palace. For almost two decades, the palace became their home and temple.
The exhibition Dumnikani fil-Palazz: Home & Temple 1942 – 1960 recounts this story through documents and interviews of people who remember these events. Parts of the painting that adorned the original Dominican church dome are also being exhibited together for the first time. A section of the exhibition is inspired by the first post-war feast of St Dominic celebrated in 1952, after an absence of 13 years, with the typical vestments worn during the procession by members of the clergy and the altar boys accompanying them.
Dumnikani fil-Palazz: Home & Temple 1942 – 1960 is a collaborative effort between Heritage Malta and the Dominican Convent in Birgu, with the support of the National Archives. The exhibition runs until 8th January 2023, enriching the experience of a visit to the Inquisitor’s Palace.
It was a great pleasure for me to join the Durga Puja celebrations this week. These are organised by the Bengali Association of Malta and are supported by a number of people and associations.
I had the opportunity to say a few words to the audience and I said what I believe: that the contribution that they provide to our economy, our society and our culture makes Malta a much better place.
Thank you for the fantastic hospitality!