A Celebration of Island Life
The Valletta 2018 Foundation is driving cultural, social and economic regeneration in Valletta and the Maltese Islands through collaboration, exchange and innovative practice. Inspired by this, the Foundation, which is responsible for Valletta’s journey towards the title of European Capital of Culture in 2018, acts on the vision to set in motion a process of culture-led regeneration in Valletta and its surrounding harbour area in which all citizens can engage.
The city of Valletta is an open-air museum and the grid of narrow streets, boasting some of Europe’s finest artworks, churches and palaces, make visiting the city a unique experience. This city is the symbolic heart of our cultural programme, which grows ever-outwards towards towns and villages all over Malta and Gozo.
The Foundation’s Cultural Programme consists of events and projects developed with various local and international communities. It focuses on inclusivity, accessibility and participation. In essence, our Cultural Programme functions like a festa, a typical Maltese celebration known for its brightness and exuberance, and the strategic geography of the Maltese Islands – placing them right between Europe and Africa – puts our communities in a unique position to host such diverse cultural celebrations as the European Capital of Culture. To ensure the organisation of a successful festa, the participation of a number of different people working together is required, much like it is required to ensure the success of our Cultural Programme.
Apart from a variety of events and projects, the Valletta 2018 Foundation is also working on a series of Infrastructure Projects which include the regeneration and conservation of a number of Valletta’s forgotten architectural treasures including the old civil abattoir (il-Biċċerija), where the Valletta Design Cluster will be established, and the covered market (is-Suq l-Antik tal-Belt). The projects are in line with the vision that Valletta will become a centre of excellence, raising our standards to those enjoyed in other European cities.
Our Cultural Programme is divided into three main themes:
A constantly evolving question is how to explore and reconcile the various narratives that play out in Malta and Gozo. Being one of the most densely populated countries in the world brings with it issues of overcrowding and a growing concern over space and what to do with it. Island Stories seeks to portray a vivid, timely picture of life on our shores – stories about the Islands’ realities, its communities and spaces they use, how old spaces are or could be used for new things and how to create new spaces inside which one is able to appreciate tradition.
This is a way of life – an extravagance and theatricality that’s a constituent of our daily rhythms – which means colour and ornamentation, exaggerated gestures and actions. The central philosophy of Future Baroque is Spectacle. With Baroque at heart, our capital city is a backdrop which tells stories of our history and culture, stories suspended somewhere between the traditional and the contemporary. Valletta is enriched by the necessity of ritual; the spontaneous soundscapes of revelry and joy, the daily hustle and bustle, colourful ornaments and banners lining the streets celebrating our festi, or feasts. Beyond our plain and simple tendency to make noise is an ever growing need that’s married to our old sense of spectacle – a need to make our voices heard over and above the noise of the city.
Valletta has always been a melting pot of cultures, thanks to its harbours and strategic geographic location right between Europe and Africa, which makes it a unique capital city. Our capital is no stranger to conflict; it is a city surrounded by fortified bastions, built for warding off attacks or celebrating victory within. Valletta 2018 is an opportunity to celebrate life and creativity in our capital while nurturing vital dialogue in a growing global context of political instability, which brings with it issues of violence, exile and migration. The city provides a space in which to challenge dominant perspectives, and extends a hand of friendship to artists and creatives. In an age of cultural diversity, we strive to recreate a sense of belonging, and we have the power to give diverse communities a platform for expression and the necessary networks to support a meaningful exchange.
The Year 2018: Highlights
Our European Capital of Culture Year opens on the 20th of January 2018, with an official ceremony where previous EcoCs pass on the title to Valletta and its twin EcoC in the Netherlands, Leeuwarden-Fryslân. This ceremony will be keeping with the spirit of the traditional Maltese festa, with brightly adorned streets setting the scene for celebration. Extravagant performances will be taking place in Valletta, launching a year-long cultural celebration that promotes diversity, community and traditions old and new.
Internationally renowned curator Maren Richter and her team are working on Valletta 2018’s main Visual Arts exhibition. An indoor exhibition, installations in public spaces, a performative and public programme will engagingly, playfully and critically explore and examine Malta’s relationship with its closest neighbour, the Mediterranean Sea, and its resulting Islandness. This exhibition will run from March 2018 until June 2018.
A unique and unmissable spectacle which will be taking place in June 2018 is the Valletta Pageant of the Seas, which will include boat races, water performances, races between local swimmers and visual demonstrations in the sea. After the events, spectators will be treated to fireworks displays and light effects, closing off what promises to be an unforgettable day.
For further information about our European Capital of Culture, visit our website on www.valletta2018.org, or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also download our app from the App Store or Google Play.