CULTURE & IDENTITY
Islands are known to be special incubators of a strong identity and a particular cultural temperament. Gozo is no less – it boasts a strong cultural heritage and a steady output of cultural fare. Its population possesses a strong island identity which gives the island's mere 30,000-odd population, a character which goes beyond mere demographic numbers or the size of the island.
The culture, heritage and identity of the island of Gozo need to be safeguarded. Moreover, in the context of sustainable development, they need to be made to play a significant role in developing the islanders' potential further, and attract quality tourism to the island.
Gozo's particular identity has always been that which made the island so attractive to foreign settlers, day trippers and tourists alike. Not too far from the Maltese identity yet very Gozitan in its very own way. Yet, Gozo does not exist in a vacuum, and though the Gozitan lifestyle has been the centre point in tourist marketing, the modern fast-paced culture has slowly crept in threatening particular characteristics and authentic village traits and traditions. It is in this spirit that the eco-Gozo vision aims at fostering the Gozitan identity while enhancing the long standing eco-friendly manners by which rural life in Gozo was always conducted. This, coupled with the rich cultural texture and love for the arts will be supported within the eco-Gozo strategy.
4.1 Culture and Arts
Creativity is the foundation for the development and maturity of a culture. The objective on Gozo should be to focus on the quality of the cultural content, to be able - through the cultural offering on the island - to enrich the experience of visiting Gozo and create quality attractions to Gozitans, Maltese and tourists.
Gozo boasts a creative arts scene which is possibly, per capita, stronger than that on the mainland. The island also boasts artists of a considerable level, in numbers which are striking for such a small population. A Gozo Cultural Council exists on the island with the purpose of setting the parameters of a cultural policy specific for Gozo. Gozo’s cultural events need to bemarketed better and Government needs to start capitalising on using existing cultural events to market Gozo as a quality destination.
Government proposes to:
• Promote Gozo's cultural identity through awareness campaigns.
• Create an all-year-round cultural programme of events in Gozo particularly during winter months.
• Promote www.gozoculture.com as a web-portal through websites such as www.visitmalta.com, www.visitgozo.com, www.islandofgozo.org, www.gozo.gov.mt and www.eco-gozo.com.
• Organise and support cultural, musical and literary activities at historical sites which are compatible with conservation values required by these sites.ts need to be marketed better and Government needs to start capitalising on using existing cultural events to market Gozo as a quality destination.
4.2 Cultural Heritage
Gozo possesses an unexpectedly enormous, unique and rich cultural heritage spanning the good part of 7000 years. The various civilisations that have occupied the Maltese islands have influenced Gozitan culture developing unmatched characteristics ranging from language, gastronomy and the way of life to physical artefacts and archaeological sites. Historical places are currently used mostly for tours and visits by history enthusiasts. A wider audience should be targeted. Historical places may be used for compatible recreational activities dependant on the status of the surroundings.
Government proposes to:
• Implement the recommended tasks as indicated by the Cittadella Masterplan with reference to restoration.
• Create a prehistory heritage trail in Xaghra.
• Take initiatives to expose the Gozitan Prehistoric culture internationally.
4.3 Voluntary sector
Voluntary work in Gozo is a precious resource. The high level of voluntary engagement on the island is one of the distinctive features of Gozitan society. Whether acting on an individual basis, in groups that have an informal structure or others with formal structures, people offering a service on a voluntary basis play a vital, though not always recognised, role in promoting an inclusive society, an appreciation of the cultural and natural heritage and the long–standing traditions and values of the island.
The voluntary and NGO sector in Gozo is perceived to be a very healthy one and provides unique opportunities for a better quality of life on the island, particularly with respect to services or activities where economies of scale prohibit their development on a commercial basis.
Government proposes to:
• Foster the creation of support groups for vulnerable segments of the population and support existing ones.
• Support and facilitate the services provided by NGOs and informal voluntary groups that provide services to vulnerable groups.
• Invite interested expatriates living in Gozo to contribute to the implementation of aspects of the eco-Gozo vision.