Inspired by New York’s world-famous MET Gala, Valletta Contemporary art gallery held its own red carpet fundraiser on December 14. Head of the advisory board Joanna Deliatalks to us about the glamorous art-meets-high fashion event and its role in supporting contemporary art in Malta. Congratulations on pulling off The MET(a) Gala. Can you tell us about the event and how it fits into the vision for Valletta Contemporary.
When planning the third big annual fundraiser for Valletta Contemporary, we wanted it to be the Maltese version of the world famous MET gala, the annual fundraiser organised by the MET ‒ the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which attracts the world’s most fabulous celebrities. And since the Valletta Contemporary galleries are run by the META foundation, the concept and name simply translated into MET[a] Gala. I also believe the community in Malta was pushing for an event which married fashion and art.
I understand that a lot of hard work has gone into organising the MET(a) Gala. Can you give us an insight into the organisation and planning?
The installation by our current exhibiting artist, Charlie Cauchi, made the perfect setting. Then the magnificent Michelle Degiorgio orchestrated the event functionally in terms of catering, staffing and coordinating with Patrick Barbaro Sant to set the perfect mood music-wise. The team at the gallery, including the artistic director and the man behind it all, Norbert Attard, Manuela Zammit, Emma Fsadni and Karolina Rostkowska all worked tirelessly promoting the event.
The MET(a) Gala was a collaboration between Valletta Contemporary and some prominent figures in Malta. Can you tell us about the people you brought on board?
Early in the year we appointed a Gala committee, made up of creatives from a number of different spheres of influence in Malta. Artist Cauchi and fashion designer Luke Azzopardi I would say dressed the night in glossy decadence, while Iggy Fenech, editor of the Sunday Circle, helped with press and media exposure. Co-chairs Tugce Ergul and myself were the ones who initially volunteered to take this fundraiser to the highest levels and I consider it a privilege and an honour. It has been very hard work but a lot of fun to dive into a project like this. Norbert Attard has built the entire Valletta Contemporary project with his own funds and hopes that his legacy lives on, while architect Konrad Buhagiar cannot help but support anything that promotes culture and art education. Businesswoman and Insta-queen Tamara Webb, Malta’s sweetheart, is actually a history of art student and she has helped spice up the event’s promotion. And then there’s the amazing Julia Boikova, fashion designer and professional events planner.
Can you tell us a little about the purpose of the event, what the fundraising effort has been in aid of and why the cause is important?
As the team behind the Valletta Contemporary Galleries we believe Malta deserves an independent, not-for-profit space to inspire and enrich lives, and it was about time Malta was exposed to the wealth of talent the contemporary art scene has to offer. In order for this to be sustained, the foundation holds fundraising initiatives.
In the last two years, Valletta Contemporary has already held two very successful and fully subscribed sit-down fundraising dinners surrounded by incredible art installations. In fact, we chose the date to fit around the most appropriate show of the year. This year we wanted to offer the public an opportunity to support the space and its running while engaging fully with Cauchi’s installation art show, Scheherazade.
Running almost 1,000 square metres of pure art, hosting exhibitions every six to eight weeks, an incredible educational programme and other trans-cultural initiatives, and paying the salaries of the amazing team behind it all is very costly. We want the foundation to be a sustainable, uncensored place where we don’t only show art which is for sale but also powerful, emotional installations.
Valletta Contemporary is also a physical space in which emerging Maltese artists can interpret their dreams and bring them to fruition. I have made it my mission to inspire people to support all this while having the time of their lives. Many people feel that art is not something for them, hence the need for a night like this.
Who would you say are your typical patrons and why do they support your work?
Traditionally Malta has always been an art patron’s paradise and I feel we need to bring this back. Successful companies worldwide understand that their legacy is strengthened through their support of contemporary art. Our patrons vary from passionate individuals to national level organisations, but naturally we hope that the number of supporters increases.
TIMES OF MALTA article by Laura Swale
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Event photos by Semih Okmen, Maria Galea, Balasz Turay, and Oksana Dotsenko