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Summer Festivals and Covid – Adapting to new experiences

M.A.D. – Music and Dance – Photos by Joe Smith

The summer festivals made their return this June, starting with The Hybrid Festival and will finish with the currently ongoing The City Jazz Series. Current affairs are imposing challenging restrictions on Festivals Malta staff, however, they are working hard to still organise these festivals which are loved by the Maltese population.

The very format of these festivals needed to be revised due to the everchanging measures. Festivals Malta CEO, Ms Annabelle Stivala said that festival content had to be discussed in detail until a format that worked in the current scenario was established. The aim of the festivals is “To create opportunities for local artists and to produce high quality entertainment for audiences. However, even though plenty of hurdles needed to be overcome, our belief in the importance of excellence in our productions never wavered”.

The Hybrid Festival included a number of events, the highlight being Skald in which they launched their debut album. Hybrid Festival Manager Ebejer Daryl Jesmond revealed that it consisted of events that were originally planned for ‘Għanafest’, which had to be cancelled due to restrictions. “The worst part of this was informing the artists, who had awaited for over a year to return to the stage”, explained Daryl.

He also stated that due to the latest travel restrictions pertaining to the EU vaccine certificate, a few events which were originally planned to take place during the The City Jazz Series needed to be cancelled this very week, only a few days before taking place. “This was incredibly challenging particularly because the festival was already a reduced edition and we had to chop it down even more”, said Daryl.

Luckily, challenges and rewards come hand-in-hand. Malta International Arts Festival Manager Caroline Agius declared that even with restrictions, shows still continued to be sold out proving the high demand for these festivals. “Despite all these changes brought on by these challenges, our relationship with the artists was further strengthened and they were more than happy to collaborate”, explained Caroline.

Festivals Malta will have to keep facing such challenges and obstacles as the pandemic will not be going away any time soon. Head Festivals Malta, Mr Frans Agius stated that the agency will need to change and adapt according to the new normalities, by diversifying its festivals to cater for new market needs.

Looking into the future, Ms Stivala also spoke about digital performances. “Since the start of the pandemic, Festivals Malta needed to experiment more with digital performances and due to a positive response, we have opted for hybrid models that include live and digital shows to make them more accessible to all”

The City Jazz Series Launch – Photos by Elisa Von Brockdorff

Next up is the launch of ‘Mużika Mużika’ which will be taking place between 24 and 26 March 2022. Interested artists, authors and composers can submit their song until the 15th October 2021. More information visit www.mużikamuż

Written by Christian Delia


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