L-Isla conference starts 12-month project bringing together four European cities

13 Sep 2013
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The Revival of Old Towns and Cities.

An international conference opened today (12 September, 2013) in Senglea as part of The Revival of Old Towns and Cities project, spread over the next 12 months, funded with support from the European Commission under the Europe for Citizens programme (Action 1 Measure 1.2 Networks of twinned towns) and the Government of Malta. MEUSAC supported this project by assisting the l-Isla Local Council with preparatory meetings during the application stage and process.

The other three partners in this international project are Zarasai, Lithuania; Daugavpils, Latvia; and Fara San Martino, Italy. Both Zarasai and Daugavpils will host follow-up conferences in May, 2014, with Fara San Martino hosting its conference in August. Senglea will also host a conference to conclude the project in September, 2014.

Each conference has a different theme related to the Revival of Old Towns and Cities, with the Senglea conference focusing on physical infrastructure; Zarasai on the performing arts; Daugavpils on re-imagining the city; and Fara San Martino on active citizenship.

Each town is also hosting a festival in parallel with the conference, with the fifth edition of the Maritime Senglea International Festival also starting today; an International Folk-Art Festival being held in Zarasai; the Daugavpils Festival; and Gole e Sapore in Fara San Martino.

The common legacy linking the four towns in The Revival of Old Towns and Cities project is World War II, which significantly affected their cultural way of life, mainly through the ruins that survived the intensive bombardments, efforts to preserve treasures in these localities and the displacement of the population. There was a striking decrease in the population inhabiting all four towns, notably Senglea.

The project aims to create an identity around the four towns and to change the mindsets of the local people, opening them up to realising opportunities caused by the shrinking city effect. The main aims of the project are to:

  • halt the shrinking effect in these towns and cities;
  • increase active citizen participation;
  • create an identity through history and education;
  • revive the artistic sector; and
    • increase economic activity.

Over 300 participants are expected to attend the conference from the three other European countries – Italy, Latvia and Lithuania – and Malta. These include councillors, researches, academics and policy makers; artists; small business owners in the leisure and recreational sector; NGOs; pensioners; and school children.

Dr Josè Herrera, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture and Local Government, welcomed the delegates to the four-day conference and augured that the aims of the conference and the entire year-long project will be achieved. “You have set yourself some ambitious targets, but the common experience of the peoples in these four countries and the unique focus should enable the project that this conference inaugurates to be a success,” Dr Herrera said.

Dr Ian Borg, Parliamentary Secretary for the EU Presidency 2017 and EU Funds, pointed out that through these networking events, present obstacles and threats will be shared, while new opportunities identified, mainly through European Union membership. “The European Union is a great force for peace and economic prosperity, which should enable these four towns to be transformed through this highly valid project,” Dr Borg said.

Other speakers at the inaugural ceremony were conference chairman Giovanni Navarro; Senglea Mayor Justin J. Camilleri; and Joe Scerri, Project Director of The Revival of Old Towns and Cities conference in Senglea.

The conference will consist of a number of plenary sessions with high-level speakers from the four countries, panel discussions and three workshops 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. Delegates will also have the opportunity to tour Senglea and to enjoy the Maritime Senglea International Festival.

For more information call 2166 2424 / 2701 3004 or visit www.revivaloldtownscities.eu.