President of Malta George Vella expressed his concern that “Industrial heritage has been largely neglected for too long.” Whilst addressing the National Conference entitled ‘A Future for Industrial Heritage in Malta’, which was organised by the Industrial Heritage Platform at the University of Malta. President Vella stated that there is no question that Industrial heritage stands for our history and heritage for these last 200 years. He noted that it has shaped our cultural landscape in indelible ways, oftentimes informed by function and purpose. “As part of the wider spectrum of our cultural heritage, it too, defines who we are”, added President Vella while stressing that there are indeed challenges that have to be addressed that are anything but simple and straightforward to handle.
“Sheer size, loss of original purpose, and contemporary use are some of the facets, out of a broader picture, of a more complex cultural heritage landscape, that are admittedly not easy to reconcile with possibilities and meaningful action. The challenges are undoubtedly there. Loud and clear. Irrespective of whether this happens intentionally or coincidentally, with a relative or no value assigned, with no awareness and appreciation of its intrinsic and historical relevance and significance, we continue to lose bits and pieces of what defines us as a nation”, said President Vella.
The President commended the Industrial Heritage Platform at the University of Malta for organising this conference which aimed at exploring current challenges in Industrial heritage conservation, preservation in situ and adaptive reuse in Malta. He expressed his wish that this event will prove to be an occasion for debate and focus on the possibilities ahead, on the ways and means how meaning and relevance to this as yet ignored facet of our cultural heritage can be assigned, and also to acquire a better understanding of the heritage management infrastructure that the country needs to develop.
The conference, held under the patronage of the President of Malta, brought together speakers from different entities and experts on Industrial Heritage, such as the University of Malta, the Ministry for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, Heritage Malta, the Planning Authority, Din l-Art Ħelwa, the Malta Industrial Heritage Association, and industry stakeholders, namely the Public Abattoir, the Water Services Corporation, and Farsons. The conference was opened by Professor Robert Ghirlando, Chairman of the Industrial Heritage Platform, Professor Alfred J. Vella, Rector of the University of Malta, and the President of Malta, George Vella.