A plan for localities to be annually declared Malta’s capital of culture has been revised after just one year.

Marsa was declared the first local ‘capital of culture’ one year ago and given €200,000 in funding to carry out a variety of cultural activities throughout 2022, from fireworks displays to art exhibitions.

But rather than pass on the capital of culture baton to another locality, it will remain frozen in history as the only town to ever hold that title.

Going forward, the project will group localities together on a regional basis, the Culture Ministry said on Friday. Malta’s southern region is first in line, having been selected by lot.

“After experiencing and evaluating this year’s outcome it has been decided that it is more effective and would be enjoyed by more people if the project is on a regional basis,” Culture Ministry permanent secretary Joyce Dimech said.  

Despite the increase in scope, funds have not increased proportionally.

€250,000 has been allocated to the project - an increase of just €50,000 from the funds allocated to Marsa last year.  

The 12 southern region localities that will be declared Malta’s ‘region of culture’ for 2023 are Qormi, Żejtun, Birżebbuġa, Għaxaq, Gudja, Marsaxlokk, Marsaskala, Santa Luċija, Luqa, Marsa, Ħamrun, and Santa Venera.

Speaking at a press conference announcing the change, parliamentary secretary for local government Alison Zerafa Civelli said it is paramount to strengthen cultural awareness on a local basis. 

“This is how we continue to encourage the appreciation for Maltese culture and to continue to preserve it for future generations," she said.  

However, some events and projects will also look to involve foreign communities, president of the Southern Regional Council Jesmond Aquilina said. 

"Our goal as a Region of Culture is to grow and strengthen cultural diversity by encouraging the involvement of various communities and strengthening the sense of involvement of the localities within the region,” he said.   

One project in the works will involve the Chinese community living in Malta through events and initiatives at the Garden of Serenity in Santa Luċija, more commonly known as the “Chinese Garden”.    

Culture minister Owen Bonnici said he hopes to involve as many stakeholders as possible and that an important aim of the project was for the 12 local councils to work in synergy.  

The concept of a rotating cultural crown for towns and villages across Malta and Gozo was an electoral pledge in the 2017 election and was meant to follow-up on Valletta’s stint as European Capital of Culture in 2018.

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