WATCH: I.COM – A Learning Curve in the Integration of Minority Groups
Festivals Malta represent Malta in a EU-funded project promoting integration of migrants and minority groups.
Integration for minority groups has always been a challenge irrespective of the country and culture these groups are trying to fit in, and this is no different in Malta. Throughout the years, there have been many efforts to try to promote integration and curb the use of stereotypes, particularly those surrounding migrants and multicultural members of society. This has been the aim of the I.COM European Project, an initiative co-funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union, who for the last two years have brought together 9 partners from 7 different countries, including Malta, in order to try and have an impact on the negative opinion on migrants and other social groups, through music.
Being one of the project’s main partners, Malta hosted its own pilot projects organised and coordinated by Festivals Malta in the form of workshops, with various young people coming from all walks of life. With the help of dedicated youth workers represented by the NGO PRISMS, the workshops provided a safe space where these youths could learn to trust, respect and confide in each other, while also tackling the benefits of integration and the negative impacts of stereotyping through various team building exercises. Throughout the workshops the young people were introduced to music for the first time, through the help of industry professionals like David Leguesse and Aidan Somers. Music was a medium that served as a creative outlet for these youths to express their emotions and open-up about their experiences. As a result, three professionally filmed music videos about different aspects of life, were produced by these young people. While the song-writing process started-off with heavy themes, which can be seen in the song ‘Għajjejt’, the youths slowly adapted a more positive mindset, which can be seen in ‘I Love my Friends’ and ‘L-Imħabba’.
Festivals Malta CEO, Annabelle Stivala commented that the agency’s participation in the project came about coincidentally, with a representative of the project approaching the group in Viareggio during a collaboration meeting between the Maltese and Viareggio Carnival representatives. “We were very excited when we got offered the role as partners for the I.COM project and it won the necessary funding. Though our main role is in the organisation of cultural events, we have always wanted to branch out in such projects to help our community, and what better way to do so than through music. What resulted from the workshops was something truly inspiring. These youths, who had little to no prior experience with music, managed to create and compose three original works of their own – it was our honour to form part of this project and see the growth of these young artists as it developed,” said Ms Stivala.
Last week, members from the I.COM Project logistics team within Festivals Malta, spearheaded by project manager Jeanelle Vella and accompanied by Celine Caruana and Mario Cassar from the Marketing Department, and the Head of Festivals Malta Francis Agius, visited Seravezza Italy to discuss the outcomes of the project within Malta in a dedicated conference. This served as a joint opportunity for all partners to present their projects and music videos, with overall positive results. A post-mortem analysis carried out by leading partners Fondazione Terre Medicee produced favourable findings, with most youths reacting more positively towards integration while also feeling more confident to speak up against stereotyping and negative attitudes towards migration and minority groups after the project.