13 December 2009, in TOWN magazine with the Malta Independent on Sunday


National Trust Din l-Art Helwa relies heavily on corporate sponsorship to fund its many and diverse restoration projects, which have saved key heritage buildings and even statues from the deleterious effects of time and environmental pollution. PETRA BIANCHI, the organisation’s vice-president, describes the situation.



Since 1965, Din l-Art Helwa has been involved in the restoration and conservation of over 30 historic sites and landmarks, and two nature parks – and the list is always growing. Once the first restoration of a site is completed, we must then think of maintenance, and in some cases we carry out further restoration works at a later date.


As you can imagine, this requires a substantial amount of money. Raising funds needs time, effort and perseverance. Apart from a handful of hard-working staff members who keep the show on the road, almost everyone at Din l-Art Helwa is an unpaid volunteer.


These include regular committee members, property wardens, and many other people who pitch in to lend a hand with a particular activity or project.


For all this we depend on the firm support of our corporate members and sponsors. Many companies wish to give something to the community, and to demonstrate their appreciation of the wonderful heritage of Malta and Gozo. Through making funds available to our projects, they enable the community to benefit from the historic sites that we restore and manage on their behalf. All our properties can be visited and enjoyed by the public.


When the Foresta 2000 site near the Red Tower in Mellieha was badly vandalized in 2007, I was truly impressed by the many companies which, and individuals who, immediately came forward to show their solidarity to the three project partners. They provided funds to replace the thousands of trees and help make good for the years of work that had been destroyed in just one night.


Whenever we have been entrusted with the restoration of a new property, we have fortunately always found the support of at least one company to help out. Our projects depend on sponsorship, together with the efforts and encouragement of volunteers and the wider community.


Hundreds of individuals also contribute their annual membership fees and give other donations, which help us to settle the endless expenses that saving and maintaining our historic sites involves. Every cent is vital.


Needless to say, it is never quite enough. While finding sponsors for an initial restoration has so far always been achieved, it is much harder to raise funds for the maintenance work which inevitably follows. Many of our properties are exposed to harsh weather conditions, battered by sea spray or wind, and the stone fabric and paintwork quickly deteriorates. Smaller jobs are more difficult to fund. Administration must also be factored in as a cost.


To help with this, we are grateful that we enjoy the support of a group of corporate members who provide an annual subscription, and who make it possible for us to keep the ship afloat behind the scenes.


This is supplemented by regular fund-raising events, which take up a lot of the time and energy of our volunteers. Never believe anyone who might try to persuade you that this is easy – “oh, you know, just a glass of wine and a few pictures on the wall, or perhaps a little concert and a dinner, and the euros will flow…” That sort of thing cannot possibly be further from the harsh reality of fund-raising events which are invariably time-consuming, even maddening at times, and require considerable skill, experience and dedication from our volunteers to get it right. When it all goes well, then it’s great – and enduring friendships often grow out of these joint efforts for a good cause.


Some companies have also helped us by inviting their staff members to volunteer to open our properties to visitors on weekends, or to take part in a clean-up or tree-planting day as a team building activity. Over the years, many artists have painted our properties and donated part of their income from these pictures to our heritage fund. Newspapers and magazines help our cause by enabling us to showcase our achievements and plans.


Din l-Art Helwa is indebted to everyone who has, in some way, helped us forward our mission over the years – which is to protect and raise awareness of the beautiful urban and natural heritage of our islands. A special word of thanks must here go to our corporate members and sponsors, whose generosity has helped save so many historic properties for everyone in the community to enjoy.


Any company which wishes to provide corporate sponsorship to Din l-Art Helwa should contact the organisation on 21 225 952. www.dinlarthelwa.org