The APS Summer Festival is in full swing, with a packed programme of unmissable cultural and entertainment events designed to welcome back Malta’s summer post-COVID. With the festival now set to run for a further four weeks, APS Bank CEO Marcel Cassar explains what motivated this project.
What is the APS Summer Festival and how did it come about?
It all started early in April from conversations we were having with the Management of Valletta Cruise Ports (VCP), who were understandably concerned about the havoc which COVID-19 was going to wreak on cruise liner activity and business in general at Valletta Waterfront. At the time it wasn’t clear what kind of summer was in store for the Maltese Islands and the original idea was to go for a drive-in, open-air cinema.
As things started to clear up and restrictive measures were gradually lifted, the project evolved and the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) came into the picture. Every cloud has a silver lining, so with the quays free of cruise liners and our wish to offer a lifeline to local artists and businesses facing challenging times because of the pandemic, the first ever APS Summer Festival was born. Originally set to run between 26 June and 18 July, the success of the first round encouraged us to extend our support to the Festival until the middle of August.
What kind of artists or events are being featured in the festival?
We have curated the best and emerging talents under the artistic direction of Sigmund Mifsud, executive chairman of the MPO. There is an eclectic, joyful and diverse blend of different genres of music, from classical to rock to jazz, as well as comedy, dance, poetry, and visual arts. Something for everyone!
The first round included some of Malta’s top artists, such as Red Electrick, Nadine Axisa, Studio 18, elements and ensembles from the MPO itself who perform alongside emerging local talent and the Malta Youth Orchestra. The second round will additionally include leading local artists like Alex Bezzina and Dominic Galea (playing Ellington), Comedy Knights, Ray Calleja and the Big Band Brothers. For film buffs, we have also introduced outdoor cinema nights as part of the Festival, with drama, classics and musicals all featured, as well as a celebration of films shot in Malta, from short local productions to blockbusters.
Why is supporting local artistic talent and culture so important to APS Bank?
Art and culture are about communicating emotions; about giving colour and life to the communities where we are active. Over the years, APS Bank has brought to the public countless cultural events, performances, exhibitions, publications – the list is endless. We had a big programme of sponsored activities lined up for 2020, much of them now disrupted because of COVID-19. But at least we were able to support this idea of a pot-pourri of activities and performances concentrated over an eight-week mid-summer period.
So the Festival recognises the crucial role of the arts and culture for the holistic wellbeing of our society. We wanted to be true to our values by giving the Maltese and Gozitans hope for summer. But especially, giving an opportunity to our artists who have been ‘silenced’ by the pandemic and unable to share their talents publicly; and of course, bolstering the Valletta business community. There has never been a better time to renew the Bank’s commitment to supporting the arts and culture, by offering our support to a stage, a space and a setting that is probably unique in the Mediterranean.
Who are the partners who made the APS Summer Festival possible?
We are proudly collaborating with VCP and I should single out the senior management team, namely Stephen Xuereb CEO and André Parnis CFO, for their enthusiasm and continuous availability to make this Festival possible. Then of course there is Sigmund and his team from the MPO who bring it all together with their professionalism and experience. On top of that, the Malta Tourism Authority, Studio Seven, Embassy Cinemas, and Island Insurance Brokers are also supporting the Festival and their involvement is also critical to its success.
Above all, we have brought to the public a celebration of summer according to best Maltese traditions: under the stars and against the backdrop of historic fortifications and the majestic Grand Harbour, all aligned with the health, safety and social distancing obligations in place. It was our gift to the community for these challenging times – always true to our values.
The APS Summer Festival continues until August 15. The full schedule of events and booking of tickets is online at www.embassycinemas.com/aps-summer-festival/
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