V18 ‘lagging behind’

Concerns at preparations for European Capital of Culture

V18 chairman Jason Micallef.

V18 chairman Jason Micallef.

Preparations for the Valletta 2018 festivities are “lagging behind” and some aspects still remain unclear, a monitoring report has warned.

The report (see pdf link below) by the monitoring and advisory panel of the European Capital of Culture, published in Brussels this week, highlights concerns about the work being done ahead of Malta’s stint as European Capital of Culture.

Malta is set to share the EU’s cultural crown along with Leeuwarden in 2018. However, the panel has raised concerns ranging from the event’s financial planning to the lack of a coherent programme of events.

“Overall, the panel feels the preparation is lagging behind expectations at this stage of development and the team should focus on regaining momentum,” the report said in its conclusion.

The eight-page report gave Malta until the beginning of next year to provide more details and said the Melina Mercouri Prize, a €1.5 million cheque given to the selected capitals, was not guaranteed.

Although preparations for the programme of events should be the core of the work being done, the panel said not enough had been accomplished on this front.

The list of projects being carried out seemed “general”, and the European dimension, which all capitals are required to factor in, was still unclear.

‘Lack of a coherent programme of events’

The report, which follows a meeting between the panel and the Valletta 2018 Foundation last month, also questioned why the budget for the administration of the foundation appeared to be high when compared to that allocated for the actual festivities.

In a series of recommendations, the panel called on the organisers, led by chairman Jason Micallef, to “reconsider the figures”.

It added that the structure of the administrative costs in general should also be better explained.

A Valletta 2018 Foundation spokesman did not appear alarmed by the report’s findings when contacted yesterday. He said the meeting with the panel members had covered the 2014-2015 period and the work being done now would only become visible in the coming months.

The sponsoring and fundraising strategies adopted by the local organisers were also flagged by the panel.

The report said the V18 Foundation’s dependence on private sector funding meant that a drastic reduction in the scheduled events would likely be necessary if the money fell through.

The spokesman, however, said this was not the case and insisted the funds were “public and secured”.

“Different means of private support are additional to public funding, thus ensuring the full implementation of the programme,” the spokesman said.

The panel’s report called on the foundation to develop a back-up plan in case the private funding fell through.

Capitals of Culture are also meant to set out a plan for the future, with the title year being seen as the beginning of a legacy of cultural development. The panel, however, questioned why there was still no budget for the legacy in 2019 and beyond.

It said the organisers had said that a masterplan for 2020 and the years that followed was being developed.

It was not all bad news for Malta’s culture scene. The panel’s review did highlight a number of successes, including the increased involvement of Gozo in the island’s plans.

The panel also welcomed the emphasis being placed on dealing with migration issues and minorities through culture. In fact, it suggested developing this as a key element of the overall programme.

Attached files