EU-funded project brings together cities in Italy, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta

26 Aug 2013
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Dr Josè Herrera, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture and Local Government, today (26 August, 2013) officially launched The Revival of Old Towns and Cities Conference to be held from 12 to 15 September, 2013, concurrently with the fifth edition of the Maritime Senglea International Festival.

In this project L-Isla, one of the Three Cities, Senglea, is leading three other town-partners namely Fara San Martino, Italy; Daugavpils, Latvia; and Zarasai, Lithuania. Speaking at the launch, Dr Herrera said this was a unique way to bring together towns and cities with a common, unifying experience – in this case the bombing suffered by the four locations during World War II – with its effects.

“Not only will the effects of this bombing be discussed on the architecture of the four locations, but the displacement of populations during this period, the migration that occurred subsequently and efforts made to rescue and preserve treasures and relics of these communities that reflect their individual identities,” Dr Herrera said.

“This international conference, which will attract delegates from across Europe, including Malta, also coincides with the Maritime Senglea International Festival 2013, which much to the credit of L-Isla Local Council, has now established itself as an annual event, each year growing in stature and importance.”

Senglea Mayor Justin J. Camilleri outlined the efforts of the local council to be the lead partner in this EU-wide project, which is funded with support from the European Commission under the Europe for Citizens programme and the Government of Malta.

Unlike Senglea, a promontory with a waterfront within Grand Harbour in the Mediterranean Sea, the three other cities, Fara San Martino in the province of Chieti in the Abruzzo Region; Daugavpils, a city in south-eastern Latvia, located on the banks of the Daugava River; and Zarasai, a city in north-eastern Lithuania, surrounded by many lakes and rivers, are all landlocked.

“All four towns and cities have so much in common, although our geography may be quite different. We still wish to share this common heritage and I am confident that the conference that will be held next month will bring out all that can be of benefit to the four partners,” Mr Camilleri said.

Joe Scerri, Project Director of The Revival of Old Towns and Cities, then gave details of the conference. The introductory session is being held in the evening of 12 September with speeches of welcome by conference chairman Giovanni Navarro, Mr Camilleri, himself, Dr Ian Borg, Parliamentary Secretary for the EU Presidency 2017 and EU Funds, and Dr Herrera.

The four municipalities will then make presentations, after which Arthur Perici, Executive Secretary, L-Isla Local Council, will launch the official website of the project, www.revivaloldtownscities.eu. The session ends with three presentations by Alison Camilleri of MEUSAC on the Europe for Citizens Programme; Martin Bugelli of the European Commission Representation in Malta on the values, rights and opportunities created by the EU; and historian James Farrugia on Shrinking Cities.

The second day of the conference consists of an analysis of the common events that struck the participating municipalities during World War II: the bombardment, displacement, migration and rescue of artistic treasures and their relics by the respective communities. There are two speakers representing Senglea, cultural and heritage expert Vincent Zammit and Architect Fleur Ebejer; and three speakers, one from each municipality. Simona Burokaitė represents ZarasaiMuseum; art history expert Valentīns Petjko is from Daugavpils; and Architect Enrico Del Pizzo is from Fara San Martino.

This is followed by a panel discussion and, in the afternoon, three open-air workshops at the Sally Port on: Bombing and its consequences to architecture; The rescue and preservation of treasures and relics echoing into the salvation of a community’s identity; and The displacement and uprooting of populations throughout the years.

The reports on these workshops will be presented the following morning after which the session chair, Vincent Zammit, will brief the participants on the visits to buildings which have been renovated and successfully conserved, which is being held in late morning. The concluding day of the conference includes a presentation titled In preparation for ‘Performing Arts’ to be delivered by a Zarasai delegate and, following an address by the Senglea Mayor, there will be a tour of historical venues in Senglea.

All interested foreign and local delegates are invited to register their free attendance to the conference on www.revivaloldtownscities.eu.

Maritime Senglea International Festival is being held under the aegis of European Destinations of Excellence and Aquatic Tourism Eden 2010. The festival also received support from the European Commission’s Europe for Citizens Programme, MEUSAC, the Parliamentary Secretariat for Culture and Local Government, Malta Tourism Authority and several local businesses, among which are Artsphere International, Bank of Valletta plc, Coca-Cola, Palumbo shipyard and superyacht facilities, Malta Maritime Pilots, Villa del Porto, John Ripard & Son (Shipping) Ltd, Green MT, Grand Harbour Marina, Emmanuel Delicata Winemakers and Sullivan Maritime.

Four exhibitions will coincide with the festival: Shhh! Silenzio by Sicilian sculptor Cari Privitera at La Vincitrice Band Club; Exodus by the Senglea Historical Society at the Catholic Action; and two others at the Għaqda Dilettanti Sajjieda Barklori along the waterfront; and the Senglea Regatta Club at Senglea Point. Opening times on Friday, Saturday and Sunday are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 6-9 p.m.

The festival starts on 12 September when the Daugavpils Vocal Group will sing traditional Latvian songs at 4th September Square at 8.00 p.m. Dr Herrera will then preside over the official opening ceremony, which comes to an end with a performance of Kantilena, with contemporary Maltese folk music.

On Friday 13 September at 8.30 p.m. there will be a unique sacred choral concert by the Joy Gospel Singers, led by Michelle Marie Abela, on the parvis of the Our Lady of Victories Basilica. Sculptors Cari Privitera and Charles Bonnici are holding a workshop in lava stone and limestone, respectively, on Saturday 14 September from 10 a.m. to noon at 4th September Square.

The Waterfront will come to life in the evening of Saturday 14 September from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. with:

  • stands by the EU project partners in The Revival of Old Towns and Cities (also on Sunday evening from 6 p.m.);
  • an Arts Fair, with over 40 art and craft participants working on site in a variety of genres, including painting, sculpture, ceramic, clay modelling, lace, candle and soap making, tarot reading and show of arms;
  • circular rides on the Malta Fun Train around L-Isla centre and the waterfront. Departure is opposite Dar Sant’Anna;
  • mural painting by Lewis Zammit on the corner with Triq San Lawrenz (also on Sunday evening from 6 p.m.); and
  • GrandHarbour ferry trips on the water taxis between L-Isla, Birgu and Valletta (also on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10.30 p.m.).

The Astra Folk Group will perform traditional folk music and dance from 6-8 p.m. and there will be four performance areas along the promenade with entertainment from 7-11 p.m. The Southern Stars Dancers, the Waterfall Dancers, the Liksme Latvian Dancers and the Lithuania Line Step Dancers will be performing at the Harbour Dance Area; Cryptic Street, Mad Hatters and The Myth are in the Maritime Rock Area; Spiteri Lucas Entertainment are in the Waterfront Pop Area; and Future Voices Choir, Gaetano Zauri con Allegria, Ramon Mangion, the Greenfields and Benny u Tonia are in the Macina Song Area.

Among the events on Sunday are a national fishing competition from 7 a.m. to noon organised by the European Federation of Sea Anglers (EFSA) – Malta; Victory Kitchen Anti aircraft re-enactments at 10 a.m., 10.45 a.m. and 11.30 a.m. by the Malta Command WWII and Senglea Drama Group; Ocean racing kayaking from 10.30 a.m. to noon by the Malta Canoeing Federation; a static exhibition of 18-  to 30-foot powerboats by the Malta Powerboat Association from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., following a fund run starting in St Paul’s Bay;

Trials and demonstrations of sea kayaking by the Seakats from 2-3 p.m.; a kids’ area, Children’s Come-Along, from 4.30 p.m. onwards with bouncy castle, toys and games on the promenade opposite Dar Sant’Anna (also on Saturday); a greasy pole competition by the Msida Ġostra from 4.30-6 p.m.; and a parade and display by the Msida Sea Scouts and Band from 6-7 p.m.

There are three performance areas along the promenade with entertainment from 7-11 p.m. The Lithuania Line Step Dancers and the Liksme Latvian Dancers will be performing at the Harbour Dance Area; the Sta Maria Accordion Band and the Police Musical Group are in the Waterfront Band Area; and the Aurora Folk Group and L- Għannejja are in the Macina Traditional Area.

Traditional Maltese food is being offered throughout the Festival by all local eateries along the Waterfront including Alice Springs Kiosk, D’Breeze, Enchante, Il-Ħnejja, Marina u Tal-Barklor.

For more information call 2166 2424 / 2701 3004 or visit www.maritimesenglea.com.