The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage is legally entrusted to enter into a guardianship deed on behalf of the State. Guardianship deeds are management agreements that are specifically focused on ensuring the well-being and care of Government-owned cultural heritage property. A guardianship deed is entered into for a period of ten years, subject to renewal thereafter.
Candidate properties for guardianship deeds range from small to medium-sized structures having cultural heritage value. These properties would normally have suffered extensive damage due to neglect, misuse, or abandonment over the years.
Properties presently in guardianship include the Knight’s Period coastal towers, forts and associated ancillary structures, British Period military outposts, other Second World War structures, a historical cemetery located on military bastions, as well as a state-owned Church.
Guardianship deeds also promote the active participation of the community in cultural heritage through voluntary work. Up till 2019 only cultural heritage Non-Governmental Organisations and Local Councils could enter into a public deed with the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.
The scope of guardianship deeds was widened as part of the revisions to the Cultural Heritage Act (CAP 445) that was enacted in June 2019. The main revision permitted the inclusion of Heritage Malta – the State Agency responsible for museums, conservation practice and cultural heritage – as an eligible entity for a guardianship deed.
Funds generated from the historical property as well as through donations are re-invested into the restoration, maintenance, rehabilitation, and management needs of the cultural property in guardianship.
A guardianship deed may only be concluded by the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage following written authorisation from the Minister responsible for Cultural Heritage and after recommendations made by the Committee of Guarantee. The concurrence of the Minister responsible for Government Property is also sought during this process. Deeds are examined and considered on the basis of stringent conservation and management requirements. These requirements entail technical and feasibility studies which are attached to the guardianship deed and submitted for ministerial and cabinet approval.