An open petition letter signed by 134 Maltese artists was this morning sent to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat demanding the sacking of Valletta 2018 Chairman Jason Micallef. The letter, which lists down the names of industry professionals ranging from authors and producers to actors and musicians, also includes 24 people who have joined anonymously.
As reported by the Malta Independent, these last 24 signatories asked to remain anonymous because “they fear retribution since they are currently involved in the cultural projects, including some related to V18”.
Among the people who signed their name in the petition letter is Karsten Xuereb, the former Executive Director of V18.
“We, artists, authors and arts managers write to you to express our concern that the legacy of Valletta 2018 as European Capital of Culture is seriously jeopardised by the actions of Mr. Jason Micallef,” the letter read. “His ongoing derogatory public comments about the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia do not reflect the European objectives and principles of the Capital of Culture initiative.”
“As chairman of Valletta 2018 Foundation, Mr Micallef has been appointed by you to represent a European project, including ourselves, as laid out in European legislation,” the letter continues. “The role of a Chairman of a European Capital of Culture cannot be partisan in attitude and purposely divisive in action.”
The letter, which was addressed to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Dr. Owen Bonnici, and Parliamentary Secretary for Consumer Protection and Valletta 2018 Dr. Deo Debattista, goes on to state this is not the first time that Micallef might’ve overstepped the line.
“We would like to recall the number of instances that Mr. Micallef used his role as Chairman of the European Capital of Culture to publicly ridicule and attack artists who criticised and satirised those in power,” the letter states. “His role as Chairman should be to safeguard this right, not to threaten it.”
“The irresponsible and embarrassing actions of Mr. Micallef are leaving irreparable damage to the reputation, programme and leadership of Valletta 2018,” the open letter concludes. “This is a legacy that the Maltese cultural sector does not need or want.”
Valletta 2018 Chairman Jason Micallef has been on the receiving end of criticism for quite some time now. Last week, a cross-party group of 72 MEPs demanded his immediate removal from his chairperson post.
Yesterday, Ulrich Fuchs, a ECOC veteran and member of the Monitoring and Advisory Panel which chose Malta’s capital as the 2018 European Capital of Culture, denounced Valletta 2018 and any related event after hearing of the comments and behaviour by some of the top organisers of the event notably Jason Micallef himself.
Two weeks ago, some of the most prominent writers in the world urged the European Commission to investigate Valletta 2018 chairman Jason Micallef for repeatedly mocking assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.