Leading towards Malta becoming European Capital of Culture 2018, the Malta International Arts Festival is based on artistic integrity, excellence and multidisciplinarity. MIAF believes in the importance of artistic collaboration between cultural realities and strives to forge synergies.
With our unique position in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, we can act as an artistic bridge between Europe and the African coast. We are also right in the middle between East and West, and are very lucky to be an island imbued with history – history that we can look back to, react to, be inspired by and use as a canvas. This provides us with an incredibly diverse, rich and colourful tapestry to work on, and create something new; fusing different cultures, using our heritage, but also looking beyond.
MIAF crosses boundaries and promotes the freedom of artistic expression through a programme that embraces site-specific curation, music, visual arts, theatre, dance, opera, installations, films, community projects, interactive and participatory events, and education, in multidisciplinary fashion, through celebrating the past, but also promoting the art of our time, mostly in venues and spaces of massive historical significance.
MIAF2017 (EU Presidency Special Edition) is creating an even stronger culture of commissioning new work, particularly interactive/installation-based work. It is also creating calls and providing new platforms for various artforms, and cultivating a culture for residencies, for example, that of the London Sinfonietta, one of the world’s leading exponents for contemporary music.
The aspiration is for Malta to become a destination on the world’s cultural map. The vision is to achieve this by bringing art to the people, through distinctive programming and by creating a unique cultural offer. MIAF wants to push aside the perception of elitism, without losing the respect towards the highest form of art.
We have merged Maltese and international art together yielding exciting results. We are bringing what is happening in the world to Malta, but, importantly, we are nurturing talent and giving our young artists a platform. Emerging and established artists are encouraged to push boundaries through creative and innovative practices and performances, making the festival a fertile breeding ground for ideas, collaborations and possibilities with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity.
We have created interactive swings, magic visual carpets, a moving theatre touring villages in a traditional Maltese bus, a hybrid of dance, movement and sound open for participation across all levels, theatre workshops, composition workshops, calls for artwork, and so on. The aim is to engage with the public, not just in learning environments, but in bringing art to the people and allowing the interaction between the two to create Art.
We issued calls for different projects, forming a choir to perform for Arvo Pärt, visual art designs which were then printed in our programmes, compositions which were then given life, young artists’ proposals for which we created a series of performances and exhibitions. We transformed Shakespeare’s Hamlet into a real-life court case together with real Maltese lawyers, a judge and jury. We worked with disadvantaged children, youths and communities.
We are now in a position to say we are attracting the best in the world to Malta, creating a wonderful melting pot of cultures and artistic fusion. As Artistic Director for MIAF in this very privileged time when we are working towards ECOC2018, I will always seek to grow – interaction, participation, innovation, internationalisation, engagement, diversity and reach are key words in my ethos. And that is what we have to, and need to do, in order for 2018 not to become a wondrous one-off aurora borealis, but to have constantly evolving Turner skies.
Dr Michelle Castelletti