First of all I would like to apologise in advance to all of you reading this for its unfortunate political topic given the fact that your social media news feeds are littered with an ‘us versus them’ attitude from both sides of the party spectrum.
Recently, it was brought to the public’s attention that there will be a €1.9 million investment for a ‘Rock Hub’ in Luqa. This hub will give musicians, artists and rock music enthusiasts a rehearsal and performance space. It will entail the transformation of existing buildings in Luqa, which belong to the Malta Arts Council, in order to provide musicians and rock/metal music enthusiasts with a space to practice their art.
I’m sorry, what? You’re going to spend €1.9 million on something that we do not need? What a surprise.
Let me start off by saying that I appreciate and acknowledge that the scene is finally getting the recognition it deserves. However, when the upper echelons are not a part of the scene we find ourselves in, how can they understand the fundamental issues? The problems are not practice spaces. There is much more to it than a place to rehearse. Bands have been getting by with the garages they play in for decades, clearly the issue is not rehearsal spaces and while I do understand that the state of the complexes of these garages that we find ourselves rehearsing in can leave a lot to be desired, maybe we should opt to have the common areas cleaned and provided with adequate upgrades or basic necessities like toilets, pest control, weekly or monthly clean ups, lighting and even security cameras? This, however is something that we must take up with the complex owner, not the government. Sure, the cost of rent might increase but you cannot have your cake and eat it too. When it comes to the rehearsal garage itself, it is up to the band to keep it clean. Nobody has access to your private rehearsal spaces so if they are filthy, it is because you allow them to be. You want a clean space to rehearse in? Take care of it. Don’t leave your beer cans and empty Twistees packets running around. It will solve a lot of issues for you.
So, how can the government help? Well, there is a lot it can help with. First of all, it should understand that there is a cultural, touristic and financial impact the metal scene could make. There are bands within our local scene that have a massive reach and a respectable following outside of the Maltese Islands. It would benefit us greatly if, first of all, the government takes the music seriously. What if they were to take that €1.9 million and invest it in a large scale Metal Festival? That amount of money will go a long way in helping things kick off. Instead of a plethora of small music festivals from multiple organisers, why not have these unite and use their contacts and funds to help create a festival that will not only put Malta on the map as a destination for rock and metal music but also a touristic destination were fans can come and enjoy the sun, sea and sand all the while Metal music blasts through the air. Unrealistic? Only because we allow it to be.
Even if you do consider the above to be a stretch, why not use the funds to help bands travel? Even if the government cannot afford to pay for ALL tour costs, subsidies for flights, tour vans and equipment would go a long way in helping Maltese bands provide good quality music. They are, at the end of the day, spreading Maltese talent and culture whether you like the music, agree with it or not.
I think there is one fundamental issue in all of this and that is the fact that the government does not understand our situation. If it does not know the main problems, if it is not a part of the scene and refuses to respect what it has to offer, then money will continue to be wasted on unnecessary ”improvements” and, like a lot of things in our little clique, it is up to us to show them.