The head of a European Commission monitoring panel said today he was satisfied with the progress being made by the Valletta 2018 Foundation for the European Cultural Capital, but he urged Malta to strike a balance between local and international involvement in events.

Ulrich Fuchs, currently in Malta, said that, since last September when the panel was last here, he noted “a big step forward” in the progress registered.

In its report, the panel had warned that Valletta 2018 festivities were “lagging behind” and raised concerns ranging from the event’s financial planning to the lack of a coherent programme of events.

Malta is set to share the EU’s cultural crown along with Leeuwarden in 2018.

Mr Fuchs said that the challenges which faced every European Capital of Culture revolved around the two different tempos.

Each cultural capital is selected five years in advance. However, five years was often too short a time for the preparation of large projects which required big investments.

On the other hand, five years was too long a time in terms of programming.

“It would be a terrible mistake from the organisers’ part not to keep the programme process open, even until the end of next year, especially for smaller projects. Sometimes, the best of ideas tend to crop up rather late.”

Additionally, Valletta 2018 was not the Maltese capital of cultural but the European one, he added, stressing the need to strike a balance between local involvement and the international dimension.

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