Film Grain Foundation, the organisation behind the Valletta Film Festival, has reacted to the Arts Council Malta’s justification for cutting down on the festival’s funding.
The decision, which was criticised by members of the Maltese art scene, has led to a discussion into how arts events and festivals on the island receive state funding.
For their part, FGF explains how they were slowly sidelined until they were given an “ad hoc” offer they had to refuse over the last year.
Oliver Mallia, from FGF, has also formally requested an investigation by the Public Accounts Committee into a separate refusal for funding by the Malta Tourism Authority in 2018, the Shift News reported.
Their statement goes as follows:
On 31st October 2019, FGF submitted an application for funding under the Investment in Cultural Organisations (ICO) call. The proposal included a request for an annual grant of €45,000 which is the maximum permissible amount under the call.
On 5th December 2019, the foundation was informed that the application submitted had ranked 13th out of 28 applications whereas only twelve applications received funding.
On 4th February 2020, ACM informed FGF that since VFF took place in Valletta, following an agreement between ACM and Valletta Cultural Agency (VCA) it was unanimously decided to allocate €15,000 per annum to VFF for three years.
A meeting was held with the ACM and VCA to better understand this ad hoc offer and its implications. A draft agreement was presented to the FGF for review.
Since the ACM proposed this funding in connection with the results of the ICO call the foundation felt that ACM had no basis to offer FGF or other organisations a lesser amount than that originally requested. ACM confirmed that all beneficiaries had received the amounts requested in full.
Consequently, the board of FGF decided not to accept the ad hoc offer.
Contrary to what was stated in the article, since the foundation communicated its decision to ACM no meetings or conversations were held about the decision.
It is important to note that only a few weeks before the VCA and ACM made the offer to VFF, the VCA, had launched a call for Large Scale Events and Initiatives in Valletta.
The call, that lasted only for twelve working days was not adequately promoted or advertised as per standard procedures. No information meetings explaining the scope of the call were held by VCA. FGF was never informed or invited by VCA to participate despite having specifically requested funding from the organisation.
In fact, in July 2019 the FGF had a meeting with a senior representative of VCA to see how the two organisations could collaborate with each other, however, no reference was made to this call. Furthermore, at the meeting the representative of VCA had categorically excluded that the agency would issue any calls later in the year that would be suitable for the production of VFF.
The call for large scale vents and initiatives offered applicants €120,000 per annum for three years.
Regarding the claim made by ACM that the Council wanted to prioritise funding to smaller organisations under the ICO call, it is vital to emphasise that FGF is not a large organisation.
Yesterday, FGF sent a formal complaint to the ACM enquiring about two issues.
The first question concerns the basis of the assumption declared by ACM in a press release dated 15 June 2020 that Valletta Film Festival (VFF) requires only ‘minor financial support’.
Secondly, the foundation reported to ACM a major discrepancy between the notification letter that the ACM had sent FGF on 5th December 2019 and the official ranking order for the ICO call that was only published recently on the ACM website.
The FGF is currently awaiting ACM’s clarifications.
Lastly, the article also mentions another initiative of FGF – Valletta Film Lab (VFL)
Contrary to what was reported, the VFF and VFL are not the same thing. VFL is a training and development platform that happens independently to the VFF. None of the funds provided by ACM for VFL are utilised for the production of VFF.
Regarding the comment about the de minims regulation, it is important to note that neither the Cultural Partnership Agreement 2017-2019 and nor the Investment in Cultural Organisations fall under the de minims regulations.
Thus, the €200,000 limit over a three year period mentioned in the article does not apply to any of these funds.