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MALTATODAY 19 February 2023

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 19 FEBRUARY 2023 THIS IS A PAID COLLABORATION Joyce Dimech Culture is the soul of our nation: the arts, the heritage, but also the every day living of our people as manifest in its language, food, traditions and our communities. The Public Service is committed towards the preservation, promotion and growth of our national culture in line with the National Cultural Policy. To this end the Culture Directorate is tasked to oversee its implimentation. Amongst this year's priorities in the arts sector, Arts Council Malta is in the process of writing sectorial strategies to ensure that all areas of the arts are well covered and promoted and receive the attention they deserve. The Arts Council is also in the process of consultation to finalise the charter of the Status of the Artist and Cre- ative Professionals in Malta as well as the 7.5% fiscal incentive for artistic activity and the working conditions framework for the cultural sector. 23 calls of various funding schemes will be issued for artists and artistic endeavours, including inter- nationalization, with the aim of support- ing local artists to export their art abroad. In terms of capital investment to cre- ate space for culture and artistic growth, Festivals Malta is in the process to apply for EU funding to initiate the Culture and Arts Complex in Marsa; a project that will include rehearsal spaces for local bands, premises and two dance studios for Żfin Malta, storage space for props and wardrobe for Teatru Malta, Carnival Float Warehouses, an enclosed theatre for contemporary music gigs, an audio- visual and Carnival Museum. Phases 3 and 4 of the Malta Interna- tional Contemporary Arts Space are well advanced and by December of this year it is projected that the MICAS Galleries will be completed and handed over to MICAS. Meanwhile, MICAS will also be launching the MICAS virtual galleries with the first exhibition featuring works by Maltese contemporary artists. Existing cultural spaces will continue their process of restoration, as in Manoel Theatre, or renovation. At Manoel Thea- tre, this year will also see the completion of restoration of the Priory of Navarre and the Maria Ghirlando Hall. At Spazju Kreattiv the process for the redesign and planning of existing spaces for better use by artists is already under way. Major renovation projects will also be the focus of Malta Libraries at the National Library in Valletta and the Central Public Library in Belt is-Sebħ. With regards to the preservation of Na- tional Heritage, the main infrastructural project for Heritage Malta remains that of the Grand Master's Palace in Valletta, now entering a critical phase, with the €10m ERDF funded project - focusing on the most important areas of the palace, including the relocation of the Armoury and the restoration of the Piano Nobile corridors - to be inaugurated in the first half of 2023. The Main Guard project is also gaining pace, while plans have been finalised for the Fortress Builders to be transformed into a visitor centre and for Underground Valletta to provide an enhanced visitor experience. From its end, the priorities for 2023 at the Restoration Directorate will remain the restoration of the Cottonera and San- ta Margherita Lines as well as the Victoria Lines in the Għargħur area. In Valletta, work continues on the Jesuits Church as well as Ta' Ġieżu façade and the Marina Curtain Bastions. The Superintendence of Cultural Her- itage in 2023, started a pilot project, by which all documents in its registry are being digitised. The documentation, col- lected since the 1930, will be converted into digital format, making it more ac- cessible, whilst old documents are pre- served and can be used without causing damage. Indeed, 2023 will see considerable in- vestment in culture. Our aim remains to keep culture high on the national agenda and ensure that our investments reach out to all communities of the Mal- tese Islands. Joyce Dimech is Permanent Secretary at the Ministry for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government. Priorities for culture in 2023

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