The National Book Festival had its official opening ceremony tonight, where the From Illustration to Book exhibition was launched – a collaboration between the National Book Council (NBC) and Arts Council Malta (ACM).

The ceremony was attended by the staff of both the National Book Council and the Arts Council Malta, along with the Minister of Education, Hon. Clifton Grima, the Minister of Culture, Hon. Owen Bonnici, the Education Shadow Minister, Hon. Justin Schembri, and the Executive Chairperson of the National Book Council, Mark Camilleri, as well as the Director of Funding and Strategy of the ACM, Mary Ann Cauchi.

In his speech, Camilleri prided himself in the collaboration between NBC and a number of entities, allowing the Festival to become a playground for professionals within the publishing industry to expand their network and opportunities. He mentioned how the Festival puts the spotlight on various sectors within the industry, such as literary agencies, and the importance of editors throughout the publishing process. He also referred to the record number of almost 10,000 students who will be attending this year’s Festival during the week, along with their educators.

Whilst thanking the exhibitors’ enthusiasm in participating in this years’ festival, notwithstanding the challenges they have been facing, he also invited the general public to attend and support the local publishing industry, through book purchasing. He concluded with thanking all the concerned ministries for their unwavering support.

Ms. Cauchi remarked on the importance of intersectional collaborations, in order to strengthen the creative and cultural sectors. Thanks to the work of the NBC, this path is already being put to practice. She also referred to the ACM strategy and the role initiatives such as this play.

Hon. Grima thanked the NBC for their constant work towards the promotion and the continued efforts to instill a reading culture within the young and old alike. He underlined how “books are a gold mine of information that enriches one’s knowledge, leading to an improved human being.”

Hon. Bonnici said that literature is a very important art form, and it is essential to recognise and appreciate it in all its facets. He concluded by stressing the importance of offering more opportunities for creative and professional development, and to always increase accessibility towards the sector, strengthening its professionalisation in a sustainable manner.

From Illustration to Book acts as a bridge, connecting visual arts and literature, showcasing illustrators and graphic designers operating within the publishing industry. This is part of the effort to create more opportunities for creative and professional development, accessibility to books and publishing for varying audiences, as well as to attract foreign publishers looking for fresh ideas.

The open space of 360 square metres has provided the curator, Dr. Nikki Petroni (Education and Development Executive), with the liberty to create varying spaces created specifically for the presentation of five thematic sections. The main section will be dedicated to contemporary book illustrations and designs that have been selected following a call, where the work of 14 artists, including recent book covers and illustrations (including children’s books), will be displayed.

The 2022 Malta Book Festival runs between 23-27 November at the following opening hours: on Wednesday and Thursday from 9am-1pm and 5:30pm-9pm; on Friday from 9am-1pm and 5:30pm-10pm; on Saturday from 9:30am-10pm, and on Sunday from 9:30am-8pm.

The full programme of events for the 2022 Malta Book Festival is available online here. For the latest updates, please follow the NBC website, and the NBC Facebook page and 2022 Malta Book Festival Facebook event page.

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