Towards the formation of the Academy of the Performing and Visual Arts

Seminar sparks new visions for the future.
Arts Council Malta Director of Funding and Strategy MaryAnn Cauchi with other seminar participants. Photo: Elisa von Brockdorff

The one-day seminar, titled Towards the Formation of the Academy of the Performing and Visual Arts: Mapping the Sector, brought together educators and professionals from diverse disciplines: dance, music, theatre, and visual and interdisciplinary arts. Spirited discussions ensued, sparking fresh perspectives and inspiring new visions for the sector’s future.

The seminar was organised by Arts Council Malta, within the Ministry for Artistic Heritage, the Arts and Local Government, in collaboration with the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation and ARC Research & Consultancy as part of the consultation process that is taking place on mapping and recommendations regarding the needs and requirements for the formation of an Academy for the Performing and Visual Arts.

The event was held at the University of Malta’s Valletta campus and the programme included five separate breakout sessions dedicated to theatre, music, dance, visual and interdisciplinary arts.

“Today’s seminar is part of an ongoing consultation exercise aimed at helping us to address needs, and best practices with regards to our aim of working towards improving education in the sector of the performing and visual arts in Malta and Gozo,” stated DG Educational Services Ritianne Borg Saliba .“The research process towards the setting up of an academy of visual and performing arts is in line with the current Government’s electoral manifesto measure and the National Education Strategy 2024-2030. Through the latter document, we are committing to put performing and visual arts education at the forefront of our educational system,” she continued.

Participants debated the main issues pertaining to each artform while putting forward strategies as to how these may be tackled. Among the issues identified within the visual arts breakout room, led by Vince Briffa, were art illiteracy, allocation of space and bureaucracy. Discussions within the interdisciplinary arts breakout session, led by Kristina Borg, focused on the need to be exposed to interdisciplinarity from a young age, reiterating that this opened the door to more exploration and experimentation within the arts.

Discussions within the music breakout session, led by Mariella Cassar Cordina were equally fruitful, with the debate centering around the availability and even misuse of resources and a need to understand the root problems while mapping out the various initiatives available. Participants also highlighted the importance of specialised schools commencing their engagement with students at an earlier age.

The need for resources also featured heavily in discussions within the theatre breakout session, led by Simone Spiteri, as well as the importance of supporting existing institutions while forging a clearer training and career path. The latter was also strongly debated in the dance session that was led by Diane Portelli, with participants calling for dance to be recognised as a core subject and for the implementation of internship progammes.

The seminar came to an end with a round-up by Mary Ann Cauchi, Director Funding and Strategy, Arts Council Malta who reported about the conclusions and the way forward.
“We convened today to chart our course forward. The insights drawn from this seminar will be transposed into actionable recommendations, guiding policymakers towards informed decisions. Arts Council Malta pledges to address the discussed points and engaging relevant authorities keenly.

“Presently, Arts Council Malta is crafting a Charter for the Status of the Artist, scheduled for publication in June with initial implementation by the Public Cultural Organisations. Concurrently, the Council is curating an inventory of available spaces for the creative community, with plans to offer subsidised rates. Several challenges are actively being addressed with patience and persistence. Finally, let us also acknowledge and celebrate the progress made to date,” concluded Cauchi.

For more information about the consultation process visit www.artscouncil.mt

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