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The Malta Independent Feature

Published in the Malta Independent, Tuesday 12th March, 2013.

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Sean Buhagiar has been appointed as the new artistic director for Notte Bianca, the largest cultural event in Valletta which attracts over 60,000 people to the capital each year.

“Notte Bianca is a wonderful phenomenon. It fuses arts with entertainment, high culture with street culture. It holds something of appeal for everyone. We want to use these qualities to develop it further, not only in terms of numbers but essentially in the quality of the experience,” said the new artistic director.

A professional theatre practitioner, artistic director and creative producer, Sean studied theatre and communications at the University of Malta and trained at the Malta Drama Centre. Subsequently, he read a Masters in performance creativity with universities in Rome, Paris and Poland where he did his research in creativity in education through the arts. Sean has worked both locally and abroad, having performed in Ireland, Tunisia and Italy.

From 2010 to January 2013, Sean was the Performing Arts Executive of the Malta Council of Culture and the Arts (MCCA), handling the Performing Arts portfolio which includes theatre, dance and music. He worked on the implementation of the cultural policy, arts funding and, as an active participant of IETM (International Network of Performing Artists), he also participated in several meetings of the CircoStrada network discussing contemporary circus and street arts. Through the European Festival Association network of MCCA, he was also the first Maltese national to be accepted to the Atelier for Festival Managers, where he presented a paper titled “The Legacy of the Immediate” in late 2012. Sean is also the artistic director of Dr Klown, a clown doctor project at Mater Dei Hospital. Last year, Sean was the local artistic director of the official European 25th anniversary celebrations of the Erasmus Programme in Malta. With Chris Dingli, he is co-founder of ĊirkuMalta, a contemporary performer-based circus show in Malta. Sean is also the Executive of Fundazzjoni Avventura, a project aimed at encouraging new indigenous Maltese theatre-works. He also works as a freelance arts funding expert and creative strategist.

Sean replaces Peter Busuttil, who currently heads the Film Commission. Now in its eighth year, Notte Bianca will this year be held on 28 September; Sean’s task will be to bring a fresh vision to the event, to further develop this spectacular celebration of arts and culture in Valletta, especially during the run-up to V18.

“We started with the brand. Our designer, Ed Dingli, worked on a fantastic new look. Notte Bianca is about lights. The concept was to create our logo with light photography – long exposure photos taken in Valletta.”

The new artistic director explained that this year’s priority will be to create a comfortable setting for artists to work in. The event will focus on multidisciplinarity, participatory arts, and collaborations with home-grown community arts, traditions and crafts.

Meanwhile, applications to participate in this year’s Notte Bianca are now open; application forms can be downloaded from www.nottebianca.org.mt. The event programme will be finalised once the application deadline closes on 30 April 2013; participants will be notified on 31 May 2013.

The programme will maintain its traditional variety but will be more focused, said Sean. “The event sees Valletta become an ‘open city’ of culture so the event often generates a number of satellite events; these will be featured in a separate programme.”

Some exciting new events are also in the air: there are plans for a Maltese wedding along the streets of Valletta. “No re-enactments – a real one. A couple will be chosen to have their wedding organised as part of the national event.” Other projects include collaborations with a variety of stakeholders and entities, such as with the Science in the City event where a Science & Art world will be created. “I have to admit the team is excited. It feels like just before the curtain opens. Valletta is the stage.  And the audience is around 60,000 cultural aficionados, or more.”

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About Notte Bianca

Notte Bianca is Malta’s biggest annual arts and culture festival. For one special night every October, Notte Bianca lights up the Valletta cityscape with a spectacular celebration that is open to the public free of charge.

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