The Lockdown Festival Malta was the first online initiative in Malta after the pandemic hit. The collaborative approach behind the creation of this event and the early stages of the Covid times in which it happened, makes it an interesting case within the Maltese context.
No formal organisation or institutions was behind the organisation of this online festival.
The organisers were three creatives
- Zoe Camillieri, Dancer and performing artist
- Kiet Bonnici, Visual Artist
- Vegard Flatøy, writer, musician and small-festivals organizer
with the assistance of a small event planning company, BEWYLD, spearheaded by Niels Plotard and Shawn James.
The event was self sustained and developed using three main tools:
- Personal and professional networks
- Local crowdfunding platform Zaar
- Facebook Live Streaming.
The Lockdown Festival Malta was streamed through its Facebook page between the 20th and the 22nd of March 2020.
The festival was a reaction to the fact that Covid officially hit Europe and Malta, with all its consequences. In particular for self-employed artists, this meant to face a deep uncertainty, with gigs cancelled, shows postponed indefinitely and venues closing down.
This was the first initiative in Malta aiming to support freelance artists. Thanks to digital platforms, and to pre-existing networks, connections were made with artists in Malta and other countries. The idea of the festival, replicated in many other formats during the last couple of years, was to give the artists a platform to perform and to the audience an opportunity to enjoy a replica of the live experience, as much as possible, from the safety of the home environment, were many were confined due to Covid. None of this sounds new two years later, but it was indeed the first time that an experience such as this was proposed in Malta.
Artists, musicians, dancers were invited to perform and live stream from their own home or studio.
The main program was scheduled for three days, but already in the original plans the page had to stay active to stream a series of Lockdown Sessions including performances and interviews.
The access to the live stream was free for everyone, but the organisation encouraged the audience to donate, using a small and local crowdfunding platform, Zaar. While different gifts were exchanged with donations, all the proceeds were donated to artists in need.
Despite not having any institutional support or a real sponsorship network behind, the event reached over 60,000 viewers, thousands of engagements and hundreds of shares in only five days. Figures which are considerable if connected with the nature of the event and the fact that it sparked from the small Malta.
The idea of keeping the online space created for the event, alive, by means of scheduling bespoke Lockdown Sessions gave the event a life that was longer than the scheduled three days of festival and the opportunity for more artists to be showcased.
In February 2021 the festival was awarded the European Citizen’s Prize, a prize granted every year for projects that facilitate cross-border cooperation or mutual understanding with Europe. It is worth mentioning that in 2020 the ECP was open to nominations by the public for the first time. This shows the appreciation from the audience towards the initiative. The prize has been awarded by the European Parliament in the different Member States since 2008 and consists of a symbolic plaque or medal of honour.
The collaborative and grassroot approach of the event is the most interesting aspect of the case. It has to be noted that two years after the start of the global pandemic, this type of events happened in countless versions, platforms and sizes. Although, considering this happened in March 2020, makes it the first example of this sort in Malta.
Malta Lockdown Festival