Valletta has been European Capital of Culture for almost a year. In this series of articles we look at the impact has it had on the people involved – the artists, the visitors, and the people of Malta.
In this interview, Sam Farrugia speaks to Annaliza Borg, Communications Coordinator at the Valletta 2018 Foundation, which organised the European Capital of Culture programme.
“Valletta is now on the international map and has featured in the international news, from Euronews to the BBC. All in all, the programme was a great success.”
Annaliza Borg, Communications Coordinator at the Valletta 2018 Foundation
What was the role of the Valletta 2018 Foundation?
The Foundation coordinated the whole cultural programme for the year. Our aim was to drive cultural, social and economic regeneration in Valletta and the Maltese Islands through collaboration, exchange and innovative practice.
Do you think you achieved that aim?
I think the programme was a great success. During the year, people who had never attended theatre performances or engaged in art before could take part in events in their home towns.
I believe this effect will be long-lasting. The substantial increase in the cultural budget has given us new institutions such as a museum of Art (MUŻA), and I believe the sense of cultural engagement will remain.
We are now on the international map. Before, Valletta was a place people mostly visited for work purposes – or to go shopping. This year, Valletta featured in the international news, from Euronews to the BBC.
The impact on our cultural and tourism economy is also evident. Over 30 boutique hotels have opened over the past months, along with several high-end restaurants, bars, theatres, and more.
What did your job involve? What were the biggest challenges?
A challenge was exactly what I was looking for when I joined the Foundation five years ago as a communications officer. I think I found it!
To start with, we were a team of two people, responsible for setting up the Foundation’s communications department. This meant both planning the necessary infrastructure such as the website and social media channels and putting together a communications and marketing team for a programme of over 400 events throughout the year.
Then we had to prepare for the opening ceremony at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. Between 80,000 and 100,000 people attended opening events on 20 January, so I feel it was a success!
What was your favourite event of the year?
I saw a lot of events. During the Nisġa exhibition, we had the chance to view works by local artists that are usually in private collections. At Constellation Malta, we saw works by a number of famous artists from around the world displayed in heritage sites.
The shadow puppetry event Anos Luz was amazing for families, as was Sfilata fil-Kapitli, which combined myths from both Ancient Greece and Persia.
When you're so involved in the organisation of events, it's hard to pinpoint just one.
Could anything have been done differently to make the year more of a success?
There are always things that could be done differently, but all in all, the programme was a great success. I believe it was appreciated by the public who attended the events.
What will you always remember as your defining ‘Valletta 2018’ moment?
Our team spirit, even at the most stressful of times, is something I will always cherish.