Catherine Tabone is the Executive Director of the Valletta, European Capital of Culture 2018 Foundation, and a key strategist in the globally anticipated activation. As a globally recognised cultural figure, she has a long history of holding game-changing managerial positions in public administration, as well as having a respected past as the chief curator of the Inquisitor’s Palace in Malta’s Birgu. Five years ago, the graduate of both Malta University and Cambridge, was appointed  the cultural director responsible for all discussions held related to the cultural sector during Malta’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. In this role, Tabone was also responsible for leading the ratification process of the UNESCO convention on safeguarding intangible heritage. Notably, she handled the Vatican Nativity, organised in collaboration between the government, the Curia and the Holy See. Here, she tells Leading Culture Destinations why the sublime genius of Beethoven is a constant inspiration to her, and what we can expect from Valletta next year.

If there was one piece of art you could feature in, which would it be and why?

It would be Beethoven's 9th Symphony. This sublime work holds within it the apex of humanity's potential and achievement. I cannot think of a greater or more complete embodiment of human spirit, or a more physical manifestation of the Weltgeist. I am in absolute awe of Beethoven's genius and his unsurpassed ability to discuss the divine so eloquently, with a musical idiom that is so human and directly accessible.  

How will museums impact future cities?

Cities tend to have their fair share of cultural infrastructure–some create iconic structures while others re-engage and reinterpret what is already there. I believe museums can be catalysts for social innovation when they engage with citizens and neighbourhoods, rather than project exclusivity. Museums are cultural spaces, but they are also social spaces in which to build aspiration, share knowledge and stimulate innovation–a community-engaged museum is very much part of the cityscape of the future.

What are your favourite emerging cultural cities and / or organisations in the world and why?

Valletta! It's a Baroque masterpiece with over 320 monuments, but it pulsates with lively energy. Valletta's piazzas and cultural spaces are a flurry of vibrant activity and its residents are a great crowd, too. It hosts various cultural events including a Baroque festival, a unique Carnival and a Jazz Festival, with a long-standing established tradition. There is a sparkling energy about the city and its growing creative sector. It is investing in cultural infrastructure and innovation with MUZA, a community-based museum, a Design Cluster and a new contemporary art space (MICAS) at its fringes. Valletta is regenerating into a pulsating multi-sensorial experience.

Who do you think are the cultural innovators of tomorrow and why?

Culture is fluid and dynamic–the innovators will come from the midst of those creative disruptors who challenge the existing boundaries in an increasingly complex world. 

What are you up to at the moment and where can we find it? (Please include a link(s) if possible).

In 2012, Valletta was declared European Capital of Culture for 2018. In my capacity as the Executive Director of the Valletta 2018 Foundation, I focus on organising preparations and realising the cultural programme for this international event. The task requires immersive dialogue with city residents, leaders, artists, curators, cultural entities and business communities. It's about bridge- building between artists, communities and cultures. My goal is to ensure that Valletta 2018 leaves a strong legacy. Valletta's sun is shining, propagating a dynamic creative ecosystem and I am very thrilled to be a part of it all.

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