As Arts Council Malta, we believe in the public value of arts and culture, as well as their power to enrich the lives of everyone who experiences them. Our research into the impact of our investment over the past six years has indeed become evidence of our conviction because we have witnessed and listened to encouraging stories of artists and communities influenced by the work we have supported. Thus, in recognising our accountability towards the public, we want to broaden our approach to investment by looking beyond our funding portfolio because, above all else, we consider cultural and creative engagement a right. Therefore, we shall widen the scope of how we advocate for – and then allocate – public investment. We aim to reach this goal by further diversifying our funding processes and the other forms of investment mechanisms we lead, develop and support.

Over the coming years, we will invest strategically in work that supports our goals and guiding principles in alignment with cultural rights and overall sustainable development. At the centre of our investment decisions, we shall consider the professional, social and economic status and conditions of artists, creatives and cultural practitioners. From project funding for an experimental artwork to seed capital for a creative start-up, we want to structure investment that matches the sector-specific needs of artistic expression and production. We also know that investment in arts and culture can bring about broader social benefits and contribute to economic growth and the development of sustainable communities. Therefore, we plan to invest further in mentorship, capacity building, professional development, training and knowledge sharing among organisations and individuals to improve the quality and potential of their artistic work and operations. We strive to champion arts and culture across the voluntary, private and public sectors – not only via direct investment but also through our development efforts by building connections among everyday cultural participation in communities, the organisations we support, and other key sectors in Malta.

Our investments will also be directed towards building new partnerships and collaborations and expanding our knowledge, skills and networks so as to support and promote the conditions in which Malta and Gozo’s cultural and creative sectors can flourish. We will work closely with those we support through constructive monitoring and reporting requirements by providing the necessary assistance and encouraging best practices. We will continue identifying the structural challenges and opportunities facing the cultural and creative sectors and address them by leading conversations that bring people together from across sectors.

We will also advocate for the value of arts and culture with other public entities and stakeholders so as to support the sustainability, innovation and growth of Malta’s cultural and creative ecology and take the lead in placing the arts at the centre of the country’s future. Indeed, we aim to collaborate with PCOs to provide a support structure that incentivises excellent working conditions in their work with the private and voluntary sectors, placing the Status of the Artist at the centre of operations and decision-making. We shall engage in structured dialogue with PCOs to ensure that their investment considers the multiple economic and social realities of Malta’s cultural and creative sectors to ensure the sustainability of PCOs through support of independent sectors. This requires continuous learning, discussion and rethinking of our funding programmes and investment decisions through research and knowledge building to continue strengthening the case for public investment in arts and culture.

The principles of open competition, accountability and transparency will continue guiding our funding and overall investment decisions. We are committed to providing information about the different funding programmes via our digital channels and brokerage services. Our guidelines and application forms will be regularly reviewed and published online to ensure maximum accessibility. In addition, through our newly revamped and continuously evolving Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, application procedures will include clear steps that outline our expectations for every part of the application. In addition, every funding opportunity’s deadline will be published in advance as part of a yearly calendar.

At ACM, we ensure that our decision-making process is conducted effectively and meticulously, which is why we engage – and will continue to engage – independent evaluators to assess funding applications. Concurrently, we will also explore approaches that lessen bureaucracy by investing in digitalisation and simplification procedures to be rolled out across our funding programmes.

We invest in artists, creative professionals and practitioners to develop and deliver artistic excellence and contribute to our strategic goals that support growth, diversity and training in the cultural and creative sectors. The benefits of public investment are effectively utilised to steer growth and development. The method adopted may incorporate traditional funding models via multi-annual grants, strategic funding and development funding. However, through our partnerships and stakeholder engagement, we also aim to initiate conversations on alternative funding sources, such as match funding, crowdfunding, preferential loans, trusts and other models that favour participatory approaches.

Multi-annual grants consist of agreements with creative professionals over several years and address the long-term vision and priorities outlined in Strategy 2025. In fact, strategic funding programmes are ACM’s primary tool to implement our strategic goals, whereas development funding programmes provide the necessary environment in which we can invest in the development of quality-driven creative work that pushes the artists’ and sectors’ boundaries and encourage more engaging creative experiences. These programmes focus on what matters most to artists: funds that support them in taking creative risks to develop new work through research, experimentation and collaboration.

Looking ahead, we will continue to ensure our public investment decisions remain equitable to reflect the principles of cultural rights and embrace the diversity of artistic and cultural expression.