What’s the point of V18? And are we missing it?


As the months tick away to the year Valletta will become the Cultural Capital of Europe, we should really be asking ourselves whether we are missing the whole point of V18. 

In a continent drowning in cultural heritage and artistic legacy, Valletta is but a pawn in a game ruled by giants. However, if we play our cards right, V18 could see Malta catapulted onto the international scene. But how and why should we do it?

Much like the Olympics and the World Cup, being Cultural Capital of Europe is more than simply an event that needs to be organised to the highest standards and waved off as something that is done and dusted. These sort of events have one aim: to plant a seed that will hopefully go on to flourish.

V18 should not be just about organising plays and setting up exhibitions, or about seeing Renzo Piano’s masterpiece finally erected in all its glory. No, V18 is about leaving an artistic and cultural legacy behind – something that we haven’t had in many centuries.

As a nation we do not feel any connection to art – only 18% of the population participate and take interest in artistic and cultural events according to an EU study. So, we boast about the Beheading of St John, but we hardly support up-and-coming artists. We tell others to visit the Ggantija temples, but come something architecturally new we dismiss it as foolish. And this is what V18 needs to stamp out: the complete ignorance about, and disassociation with, that which surrounds us.

V18 and the machine behind it need to understand that they are changing perception towards something that is hundreds-of-generations old, and that it needs to be done in about… oh, three years’ time.

How are the authorities getting people involved? How will they make sure that students make the most of V18? How will the average Joe be convinced that this is something that benefits him? That it’s something that can change his life?

And as much as I don’t disagree with having a football tournament during V18, I still don’t get how the government is planning on bringing art and culture into every town, street and home. How will we make sure that we push people to willingly visit museums and art galleries? To talk about culture and keep it alive and growing?

That is the real point of V18 – to create a community that cares about culture.

Why? Because art and culture are a part of who we are as a continent, as a nation, as a people and as individuals. Not caring about art and culture is like not caring about politics – you might think it doesn’t affect you or make a difference, but you’re just wrong, because passivity will only let others have power over you.

What do you think of James’s argument? Do you agree? Disagree? We’d like to know!