Phyllis Muscat blocks information on art deals at MICAS

Phyllis Muscat, chairwoman of the Malta International Contemporary Arts Space (MICAS), a still-unopened government arts centre in Floriana, has refused to provide information on how hundreds of thousands of euro have been spent on art.

The Shift previously reported on two pieces of art purchased by the government and connections between the artists and Francis Sultana, a Gozitan art dealer put on the MICAS board by the government.

The Shift followed up with a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for details on the works acquired, their cost, and who supplied them, but it was denied by Muscat.

She refused to hand over information on how her board administers the public funds, claiming it is not covered by the FOI law.

Malta’s Ambassador for Culture Francis Sultana

The Shift previously reported on works of art acquired by MICAS, ‘The Radiant’ by Swiss sculptor Ugo Rondinone and ‘The Palm Goddess of Malta’ by American artist Michele Oka Doner. Both were selected by a committee, including Muscat and Sultana, without any competition or transparency.

The foreign artists commissioned by MICAS are also clients of the David Gill Gallery in London, owned by the long-standing partner of Sultana.

The latter is also the CEO of the same gallery, and his work includes selling works of art on a commission basis.

While some €500,000 of public funds were paid to a gallery for the acquisition of Rondinone’s piece, the Oka Doner piece was leased to Heritage Malta for ten years on the condition that it be displayed in a prominent position.

The Radiant in Sa Maison Gardens which cost taxpayers half a million euro

The Gozitan art dealer, who, together with tenor Joseph Calleja, was made ‘Ambassador for Culture’ a few years ago, has built a reputation abroad as an interior designer with a number of multi-millionaires as clients.

When asked about his role in selecting the artists commissioned by MICAS, Sultana only said that he formed part of a committee that made those selections.

No events despite a raft of officials put on the government payroll at MICAS.

The new arts centre in Floriana was expected to open its doors in 2021. Yet despite some €20 million already spent on the project, it is still not ready, and no opening date has been announced.

Some €800,000 was budgeted just for events in 2024 and a further €1.3 million in recurrent expenditure but the centre’s website lists no events planned for this year.

                           

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8 Comments
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Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
1 month ago

Quite substantial amounts of public moneys – no explanation about their destination to be made available.

A very good method of looking after other people’s belongings, isn’t it!

Rita Camilleri
Rita Camilleri
1 month ago

E io pago! Does mrs muscat understand anything relating to art?

Hopeless
Hopeless
1 month ago

The pigsty gets larger and larger; the pigs fatter and fatter. Our criminal state is a model for all those

Philip
Philip
1 month ago
Reply to  Hopeless

And our national debt grows bigger and bigger. Shame on Abela the gangster and his band of mafiosi.

Hopeless
Hopeless
1 month ago

… aspiring to the corrupt elite ….

S. Camilleri
S. Camilleri
1 month ago

Expensive poseurs every single one of them. Accountability is non-existent.

Neil Dent
Neil Dent
1 month ago

She’s still around, and still sucking, hard, on the public purse? HOW!?

Juanpablo
Juanpablo
1 month ago

Phyllis Muscat is the prime example of incompetent people, having labour flag waving as the only relevant skillset for the job! In fact the biggest achievement of this person is being a chairperson of ONE.

These people should be held personally accountable for the funds they are entrusted with, and not have this arrogant spending of public funds.

…similar story is with the films commissioner

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