The Malta Entertainment Industry and Arts Association (MEIA) expresses concerns regarding the recently released government budget for the arts and entertainment sectors. The main focus of the budget for Arts and culture has been primarily focused on public funding which has not increased holistically and failed to address inflation and growing demands across the sectors. Conspicuously the lack of incentives and initiatives aimed at encouraging as well as stimulating the private sector for a sustainable creative economy are completely absent.
Advocating for Equitable Distribution and Increase in Public Funds to Meet Growing Demands
While the budget has highlighted an increase in public funding for arts and cultural programs and contributions to government entities, a closer examination reveals a lack of equitable impact on the sectors represented by MEIA.
Programmes and Initiatives
One of the significant changes in the budget for Programmes and Initiatives is the transfer of Creative Malta from the Film Commission which falls under Malta Tourism Authority, has now moved to Arts and Cultural heritage with sources confirming that it shall be managed by Arts Council Malta, a move MEIA has consistently advocated for and approves the shift in management. However, it is now in the hands of ACM to address the challenges previously faced by stakeholders under this fund to prevent their recurrence.
The shift of Creative Malta and the introduction of the new Malta Art Biennale account for most of the budget increase in the sector’s funding for programs and initiatives. This emphasises a lack of a comprehensive approach to fund distribution across these programs and initiatives. Additionally, the budget overlooks the industry’s challenges arising from inflation and escalating costs in production, wages, and logistics. Given the heavy reliance of many sectors and stakeholders on project support grants, the absence of adjustments for inflation and increased expenses may hinder the ability to adequately support project creation.
Government Entities Contributions
While there is an increase in contributions allocated to specific government entities, including Festivals Malta, Malta National Orchestra, Heritage Malta, and Valletta Cultural Agency, it is worth highlighting that Arts Council Malta, an institution upon which a multitude of stakeholders from various sectors heavily depend on, and which also bears the legal responsibility of assessing and leading some of the above mentioned PCOs, has encountered a reduction in funding by 575,000.00 euro since 2022. While we acknowledge the heightened funding requirements for PCOs to meet the dynamic demands of our fast-paced sector, MEIA strongly advocates for an equitable distribution of resources that aligns with the value contributed to the sector and its stakeholders by each government entity.
Lack of Long Term Vision and Acknowledgement of the Creative Economy
The budget fails to establish a long-term vision that acknowledges the comprehensive value of the cultural sectors, which play a significant role in the economy and society. Furthermore, the lack of new incentives to support independent private stakeholders, entities, and creative professionals are conspicuously absent.
MEIA underscores the urgent need for a comprehensive, robust plan that aims toward sustainability and development within the creative economy. MEIA calls for an approach emphasising sustainability and inclusivity as paramount principles.
BUDGET 2024 MAIN HIGHLIGHTS
MEIA welcomes the shift of Creative Malta and looks forward to seeing past challenges being addressed by the new management.
The increase in funding for public programmes and initiatives is focused only on two main additions and not distributed holistically across sectors.
Decrease in funding for Arts Council Malta in comparison to other public entities, an institution upon which a multitude of stakeholders from various sectors heavily depend on.
Failure to account for inflationary costs, including production, wages, and infrastructure for independent stakeholders through funding programmes.
No new incentives for independent creative professionals and entities.
The absence of a long-term vision toward a more sustainable sector and value creation through the creative economy. .
Unfulfilled promises regarding investments in rehearsal spaces persist.