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Malta's partner for the European festival project [Malta Independent, The]
[June 22, 2014]

Malta's partner for the European festival project [Malta Independent, The]

(Malta Independent, The Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Photo by Rene Rossignaud ARC Research and Consultancy has recently been set up and is led by Davinia Galea as Managing Director.  The company has been appointed as the Maltese partner, the hub for a new European platform, a project initiated by the European Festivals Association (EFA), which is a network of more than 100 festivals from 44 countries.  The project is co-financed by the European Commission and is called Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe (EFFE).  It aims to reward European cultural and arts festivals for their artistic value, their outstanding contribution to European cultural life and their sustainable impact on societal development.

Each of the European Union's 28 Member States has a hub, its own contact point to promote the EFFE platform. Hub experts will select their country's candidates for the quality Festival Label. A Festival Award for excellence will go to a small number or trend-setting festivals selected by an international jury.

  Applications open Launched by the European Festivals Association (EFA), the new pilot project opened a European-wide application process to gather interested festivals. The most innovative arts festivals are selected for the EFFE Festival Label and Award. An International Festival Jury and experts from the arts, culture, business, and political sectors steer the selection process.

Festivals are invited to apply until 15 November 2014.

The EFFE Festival Label is a quality label offering international recognition for the work of festivals and providing better access to their information for their peers and public. The festival label and award are a form of branding that encourages more people to know about and take part in festivals.

Experts across Europe assess applications to determine if festivals meet the three criteria - artistic commitment, involvement in their local communities and a European and global outlook.

In addition to the label, an international jury will give awards to the most trend-setting festivals. The International Festival Jury will be composed of high-level and diverse jurors representing key stakeholders in the festival industry. Jury members will be announced in December 2014. All festivals from the 28 EU Member States are eligible to apply for the label and invited to explain how they fulfil the aforementioned criteria.

The label recipients and award winners benefit from increased visibility, new networking opportunities, further involvement of festivals in the artistic community, and recognition for their outstanding values. The Festival Guide, both in book and online formats, featuring festival details, articles, and facts and figures will be launched at the Festival Gala in autumn 2015.

EFFE believes it is an important advantage for Europe's festivals to be recognised by their peers and the European Union for their outstanding artistic quality and community involvement. The platform invites artists, directors, managers and audiences worldwide to discover Europe's very best, most creative festivals in a festival journey through Europe's diversity.

All information on EFFE and how to apply can be found at

  In an interview with NOEL GRIMA, DAVINIA GALEA explains the background to her recent ventureUp to some months ago you were the MCCA key person. Were you planning to develop your project this way - promoting the cross exchange of festivals between Malta and Europe, or was this something that occurred to you after you were eased out of MCCA? My aim, when I was at MCCA, was always to promote the cross exchange of festivals and artistic projects between Malta and Europe. Through international memberships of various networks set up during my term at MCCA, the Malta Arts Festival was accepted as member of the European Festivals Association (EFA) and cross exchange of artists were happening through all the festivals.

Another example is an important EU funded project, The Odyssey, which has started in a festival in St Petersburg and will come to the Malta Arts Festival within two years.

The idea of the Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe (EFFE) platform was initiated by the EFA. It shows that the decision to apply to join the EFA was important for Malta especially in terms of its relationships with other European Festivals.   Although my role is now different, I still believe that good relations with other Festivals (not only European) is fundamental in order to place Malta's festival context on an international level.

  Up to now, even including your time, there seems to be very little interface between the Malta arts scene and the scene abroad. Maltese artists somehow feel insecure to take their abilities abroad. And of course while many follow and use their appreciation of the arts scene abroad in their work, this is not the same as engaging in a fruitful dialogue and exchange, such as the new initiative seems to generate. Do you agree? No, I certainly do not agree. There has always been an interface between the local arts scene and abroad in different ways, the festivals scene certainly applies as I stated above.

On individual levels it also does with artists like Joseph Calleja and Carmine Lauri as prime examples. We have quite a few other musicians and visual artists operating on an international platform. We can also mention dancer Brenda Lee Grech and actor Pino Scicluna as professionals working abroad.

Of course, we always wish that more artists would be able to stand on an international platform as the ones mentioned have managed. Whether we like it or not, being a small island may hinder opportunities for some.

Many initiatives have been established in order to overcome these challenges such as the Malta Arts Scholarships, the Malta Arts Fund, and the Cultural Diplomacy Fund.

Networking and the growing professionalization of the sector are what contribute to cross exchange, not only of festivals, but also of individual artistic projects.  The changes that have been going on in the Cultural and Creative sectors in Malta have been developing slowly but surely, because of policies and structures that started to be put into place in very recent years.

This particular new initiative, the EFFE, is different as it comes directly from Europe. It will be another important link in the chain for all genres of art to be recognized in the festival context.

In this case, not as an individual artist, but as one of Europe's festivals who will have the advantage of being recognized by their peers and the European Union for their outstanding quality.

The label recipients and award winners benefit from increased visibility, new networking opportunities, further involvement of festivals in the artistic community, and recognition for their outstanding values.

  When you were part of the government arts machine, you obviously thought and planned to boost the arts with the help of government (and EU) funds. Do you think the arts section can pull its way ahead even without government funds? While I believe that support is essential, one should be cautious about the Arts becoming dependent solely on government funding.

The difference lies between being dependent and being supported. Like farming, manufacturing, tourism and many industries that are being supported by government and EU initiatives that enable the different sectors to thrive, I do not see why the Arts should be different.

While depending on government funds is dangerous, seeing the Arts as only an industry that does not require government investment in order to create and innovate through research and risk, can also have undesirable effects. Government invests in all sectors of the economy. The creative economy, which includes the arts, needs recognition as part of this contribution.

  ProfileDavinia Galea is a Visiting Lecturer in Arts and Cultural Management at the Theatre Studies Department since 2011.

She has worked in the Arts and Cultural sector for more than thirty years. She started her career in the sector as a musician, and later as a cultural events producer and policy-maker. She worked at the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts (MCCA) for eight years, six of them as Executive Director where she administered five national festivals, chaired and co-authored Malta's Cultural Policy (2011) and set up the Malta Arts Fund, the main Arts funding mechanism.  Davinia formed part of the team that led Valletta's successful Bid for the European Capital of Culture 2018 and led the MCCA's successful Bid to host IFACCA's World Summit on Arts and Culture in 2016 announced in Santiago, Chile last January 2014.

She is Managing Director of the recently set up company ARC Research and Consultancy that provides services including research, consultancy, management and policies for the Arts and Cultural sector.

ARC Research and Consultancy is Malta's Festival Hub, the contact point for the Europe for Festivals Festivals for Europe (EFFE) platform coordinated by the European Festival Association.      The EFFE label and award: the core benefitsEFFE is a programme for festivals. EFFE believes that it is an important advantage for Europe's festivals to be recognised by their peers and the European Union for their out­standing quality. The label recipients and award winners benefit from increased visibility, new networking opportunities, further involvement of festivals in the artistic community, and recognition for their outstanding values.

Visibility: The EFFE guide will feature your details and mission and will be promoted in a far-reaching media campaign. The branding label will be yours to use in your own pro­motional campaigns. The guide and results of the EFFE programme will be talked about at the high-profile festival gala and in outreach events promoting your image in the sector.

Networking: EFFE is a new festival network connecting hubs, cultural networks, and festivals across Europe. Taking part in EFFE will greatly expand your connections among artists, festival managers, business representatives and policy-makers. Through this network your festival will be able to discover new projects, exceptional artistic talents, and new opportunities for collaboration.

Festival Community: A report by the International Festival Jury on trends and practices in festivals will be a valuable tool for knowing what's hot and essential to know. EFFE will invite you to take part in international debates and special events to promote these results.

Values: Your festival will be part of an international cultural programme backed by the European Union based on artistic and social values the EU wants to develop. You will be invited to take part in exchanges with the European political leaders to further develop European cultural policy, making your festival a valuable and acknowledged partner in your country.

For more information visit or contact the Malta Festival Hub by writing to  (c) 2013 Standard Publications Ltd. All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (

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