Malta/ 3. Competence, decision-making and administration  

3.2 Overall description of the system

Budgetary allocations and legislation are decided upon by the Cabinet of Ministers and by the Parliament.

All initiatives and draft legislation are first submitted to the Cabinet in an executive brief and once clearance is obtained, Parliament enacts legislation accordingly.

In the past ten years, culture was placed within these Ministerial portfolios:

  • 1998–2003 - Ministry for Education;
  • 2003–2004 - Ministry for Youth and the Arts;
  • 2004–2008 - Ministry for Tourism and Culture;
  • 2008–2010 - Ministry for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports;
  • 2010–2012 - Office of the Prime Minister, Parliamentary Secretariat for Tourism, the Environment and Culture;
  • 2012–2013 - Ministry for Tourism, the Environment and Culture;
  • 2013–2014 - Ministry for Tourism: Parliamentary Secretariat for Culture and Local Government; and
  • 2014 - Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government.

Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government

The Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government has the role of initiating cultural policy developments and strategies through the Directorates. A new Culture Directorate was set up in 2013 to address the administrative lacuna which often left culture without a directorate or a structure to move to when ministerial portfolios moved or changed.

Cultural Heritage

In the cultural heritage sector, the Ministry holds direct responsibility over national agencies which operate administratively, at arm’s length, from government however, are bound to follow policy measures and strategies set by the Ministry. Board members are directly appointed by the Minister for Culture and recruitment in these agencies is regulated by government employment regulations and requires Ministerial approval. The Cultural Heritage Act 2002 and the National Cultural Heritage strategy, launched during the 2006 National Forum, clearly define the responsibilities and competences of each entity.

The National Forum is an annual event, which brings together entities responsible for, or interested in, the preservation of cultural heritage, to discuss the state of cultural heritage in general. The entities include the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, Heritage Malta, the Malta Centre for Restoration, the Committee of Guarantee, the Catholic Cultural Heritage Commission and other Religious Cultural Heritage Commissions, government departments and entities, Local Councils, NGOs, the University of Malta, and other educational institutions, specialists, consultants, and any other parties registering their interest in writing to the Minister.

Superintendence of Cultural Heritage

The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage's mission is to fulfil the duties of the state in ensuring the protection and accessibility of Malta's cultural heritage.

Within this legal framework of the Cultural Heritage Act 2002, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage was established and given the mission to ensure the protection and accessibility of cultural heritage. The Act also establishes the functions of the Superintendence.

Heritage Malta

Heritage Malta is the national government agency, set up in 2002 under the provisions of the Cultural Heritage Act, entrusted with the management of national museums and heritage sites and their related collections in Malta and Gozo, including seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It operates within four key aspects, namely management, conservation, interpretation and marketing. As from 2005, following an amendment to the Cultural Heritage Act, all activities previously carried out by the former Malta Centre for Restoration have been taken over by Heritage Malta. The agency is responsible for immobile heritage (e.g. museums and heritage sites), developing measures to ensure educational promotion, accessibility, conservation and the proper operation and marketability of Malta's vast patrimony in heritage sites, buildings, collections and museums, both locally and overseas.

Committee of Guarantee

The Committee of Guarantee has been set up in order to ensure and facilitate the collaboration between the different agencies that have direct or indirect responsibility for the protection and management of the cultural heritage sector. It is also responsible for advising the government on the National Strategy for Cultural Heritage.

Cultural Heritage Fund

The Cultural Heritage Fund is a body corporate with a separate legal personality, which receives and manages monies paid to it under the provisions of the Cultural Heritage Act, as well as other assets that may be donated by non-governmental sources. Although legally established, the Fund has no financial allocation to operate and is therefore not yet functioning.

The arts

Cultural governance in the arts operates differently from cultural heritage. St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, the Manoel Theatre, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, Pjazza Teatru Rjal and the Mediterranean Conference Centre operate at arm’s-length from government but are answerable to the Ministry responsible for Culture and Arts Council Malta (ACM). Prior to the development of a national cultural policy, public cultural organisations established separate policies and strategies. Their operation as arms-length organisations is often hindered by their ambiguous legal status of Foundation, Board or Management Committee.

Arts Council Malta is legally responsible for creating the necessary synergies between all artistic entities. From 2009, communication and collaboration between these entities, the MCCA and Culture Ministry was enhanced through regular management meetings between the chairperson and General Manager of each cultural entity. In 2011, a National Theatres Board was set up to bring together all the Chairmen of public cultural organisations for better coordination, networking and strategic development. This Board was seen as ineffective and was disbanded in 2013. Another board and a new public cultural organisation were established in the 2011 to oversee the development of the Open Theatre Project designed by Renzo Piano. Synergies between public cultural organisations are now facilitated through regular meetings chaired by the Minister and a platform led by the Valletta 2018 foundation. A new board was set up in 2013 to oversee the implementation of the cultural infrastructure programme. This board has the remit of developing the cultural infrastructure programme leading up to Valletta 2018, namely a contemporary arts space, a music hall/ centre for performing arts and creative clusters.

The Minister for Culture is also responsible for appointing the Chairperson and Board members of Arts Council Malta, the Manoel Theatre (Management Committee), the National Orchestra, the Foundation Centre for Creativity and the Mediterranean Conference Centre. In recent years, policy discussions were held to evaluate the potential amalgamation of St. James Cavalier, the Manoel Theatre and the Mediterranean Conference Centre. This led to the appointment of one management team for the Mediterranean Conference Centre and the Manoel Theatre. Unfortunately, the management had to deal with two diverse entities and different visions, as a conference centre and a theatre that assumes a national role, within the same business model and management structure. In 2014, both entities were once again separated.

Malta Council for Culture and the Arts/ Arts Council Malta[1]

In 2002, the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts was created to substitute the activities of the former Department of Culture which had previously operated under various Ministries. Chapter 444, constituting the legal obligations of the Council, outlines its role as a public funding body and enlists eleven duties which the Council is bound to perform in order to foster and promote artistic potential, facilitate the accessibility of arts for all citizens and create partnerships with various stake-holders. Five other duties bind the Council to monitor artistic development and research any cultural and artistic matter.

The major issue with implementing the strategic plan and objectives of the Council is that, from its inception, it was assumed that the MCCA would be supplied with the necessary financial and human resources. The Strategic Review – 2000 of the Department of Culture had already strongly recommended the redeployment of staff and the recruitment of professional cultural managers. Its role as events and festival organiser limited the operational, regulatory and consultative role of the Council. However, this is currently being reviewed as the Council is increasingly addressing its strategic role within cultural policy development and has also become a major catalyst for cultural funding. In 2014, the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts was rebranded as Arts Council Malta with defined directorates for the strategic development of the cultural and creative sectors (see chapter 4.1 for information about the restructuring announced in 2014).

Foundation Centre for Creativity

The mission statement for St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity focuses on its role as a catalyst for the contemporary art scene in Malta, as well as a hub were people of all ages and from all walks of life can join in the enriching act of creativity. Run by a small creative team, the Centre emphasises the need to foster aesthetic and cultural awareness among the younger generation and the socially and economically disadvantaged. The Centre houses a theatre, a music room, 5 exhibition spaces and an art-house cinema. St. James Cavalier is constantly seeking partnerships with Maltese, European and Mediterranean partners to develop innovative cultural projects. Relative autonomy is given to the running of the Centre and programming of events and activities is devised by the General Manager, with the assistance of programme coordinators. The Board of the Foundation Centre for Creativity monitors the work and approves yearly objectives set by the creative team.

Teatru Manoel

Built in 1732, the Teatru Manoel in Valletta is not only Malta's oldest theatre, but one of the oldest in Europe. Embellished over the centuries, this theatre is a true architectural gem. Today, the theatre is one of Malta's foremost performing spaces, offering a wide range of productions including opera, ballet, contemporary dance, music, children's performances and drama. The theatre season is programmed by the Artistic Director; however it requires the approval of the Management Committee which is appointed by the Minister for Culture.

Mediterranean Conference Centre

The MCC is the flagship of conferences in Malta and is a major contributor to the conference and incentives sector. The unique and imposing building houses 10 halls with a total floor space area of 7 000 square metres. Government subvention for the Conference Centre stopped after the management converted the centre from a loss making operation to a profitable entity. Thus, even though the Minister for Culture appoints the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Board, the Conference Centre operates autonomously and relatively independently from government.

Malta Philharmonic Orchestra

In September 1997, the orchestra previously known as the Manoel Theatre Orchestra became an autonomous organisation under the responsibility of the Culture Ministry and was officially named as the National Orchestra of Malta. Ten years later, in December 2007, precisely during the Budget Speech, the Orchestra was given the go ahead to start the process to augment its musicians compliment to Philharmonic levels. The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra or Orkestra Filarmonika Nazzjonaliin Maltese was launched on the 12th January, 2008.

Valletta 2018 Foundation

The Valletta 2018 Foundation is responsible for Valletta’s journey towards the title of the European Capital of Culture in Malta in 2018.  The Foundation was responsible for the bidding process starting with the pre-selection phase in January 2012, the final selection in October 2012 and the official declaration by the Council of Ministers in May 2013.  The implementation of Valletta’s 2018 is also the responsibility of the Foundation.

The Valletta 2018 Foundation is led by its Board of Governors consisting of ten members. 

Ministry for Education and Employment

Libraries and Archives

The National Archives of Malta

The National Archives of Malta aims to preserve the collective memory of the Maltese nation and protect the rights of citizens through ready access to essential evidence. The administration of the National Archives incorporates the general direction of the services, the coordination of accessions from government departments, and the representation in national co-ordinating bodies such as the National Archives Advisory Committee. Specialised advice on research, palaeography, and contacts with international research institutions are also carried out.

Malta Libraries

In May 2011, Parliament approved the legislation for the establishment of Libraries Malta, a national agency that absorbs the functions of the National Library and the Department of Libraries.  The mission of the Malta Libraries is to ensure the collection and conservation of Malta’s documentary heritage for present and future generations, to maintain and develop the libraries regulated under this Act, and to encourage reading for study, research, self-development and lifelong-learning information and leisure purposes.

Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security

Public Broadcasting Services

PBSowns TVM (the most popular TV station in Malta) as well as Radio Malta1 & 2 and Magic Radio.

Broadcasting policy in Malta is the responsibility of the Ministry responsible for Culture. It also sets guidelines for Extended Public Service Obligation programming (drama, current affairs, documentaries, children and entertainment programmes) funded directly by the Ministry. However, PBS falls within the portfolio of the Minister for Home Affairs and National Security who appoints the Board and the Editorial Board.

Malta Film Commission

The Malta Film Commission is a government organisation, established by Chapter 478 (Act No. 7 of 2005) of the Laws of Malta, with the role of advising the Minister responsible for the film sector on policies pertaining to the promotion, development and support of the audiovisual and film servicing industry. The board is composed of a chairman and four board members, including the Film Commissioner who is responsible for the implementation of Malta's audiovisual policy. The board of the Malta Film Commission has a largely non-executive function except for the approval of applications for both fiscal and financial incentives. Over the years, the role of the Film Commission has evolved from an entity that promotes the production of foreign films in Malta, to one that also develops the Maltese Film Industry through the management of the Malta Film Fund, the Malta Film co-production fund and training programmes.

Ministry for Finance

Apart from approving and monitoring all financial matters for all Ministries and Agencies, the Ministry administers the National Lottery Good Causes' Funds with beneficiaries including artists and cultural organisations. The Ministry for Finance also spearheaded the development of Malta’s creative economy through the development of a creative economy working group and was instrumental in ensuring substantial increases in public expenditure for culture.

Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business

Malta Crafts Council

The Malta Crafts Council set up by virtue of Act XXI of 2000 is also another entity contributing to the development of the creative industries. The aims of the Council are focused on the encouragement, promotion and regulation of crafts and craftsmen and entrepreneurs dealing in Maltese craft products. The work of the Council is currently absorbed by the Commerce Directorate.

Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA)

Cultural diplomacy falls within the remit of the MFA. Through the Cultural Diplomacy unit, Maltese Representations abroad are encouraged to facilitate cultural cooperation and presentation of Maltese culture. The Ministry is also responsible for the bilateral cultural agreements with other countries.

Ministry for Gozo

This Ministry is responsible for the administration of Malta's sister island. Through the culture department and Gozo Culture Council, it runs an exhibition space, supports amateur cultural organisations and programmes, as well as ad hoc artistic events.



[1]         The term "Malta Council for Culture and Arts" refers to the status of the entity before June 2014. Arts Council Malta, although still not officially the legal name of the eneity, refers to the status of the entity after June 2014.


Chapter published: 12-08-2015


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