Become a Valletta Design Cluster Member

Photo Credits: Darren Agius

 
I am interested in the Valletta Design Cluster's activities

Persons and organisations who wish to stay updated with activities running at the Valletta Design Cluster can register online for their details to be included in the Valletta Design Cluster contact database.

These registrants can also choose their areas of interest, based on the following categories: food, greening and placemaking, neighborhood and residents, education practitioners, makers, social impact, entrepreneurship, and international partnerships.

I would like to become a Valletta Design Cluster member

The Valletta Design Cluster provides public space accessible to the general public on the roof and in the central courtyard. These public spaces are free to access during regular opening hours and do not require membership or prior registration.

 

On the other hand, the main facilities for cultural and creative practitioners are accessible via a membership scheme aimed at providing equitable accessibility to resources, safeguarding health and safety to users, and ensuring an effective management of the members' community. The scheme runs in two strands:

 

1. a regular members strand
2. a studio-based members strand

All applicants must first register their interest via the ‘I am interested in the Valletta Design Cluster’s activities’ section above before proceeding to the membership application process.

  • Regular Members

Regular membership is open to individuals and organisations active in the cultural and creative sector and design-related activities, and provides access to the shared facilities within the building, namely the co-working space, the makerspace, meeting rooms, the foodspace, and related facilities.

There is no limit to the number of regular members that the VDC can accept, and therefore membership is open to all applicants that satisfy the eligibility criteria and that complete the application process.

Verification of entries will be done in person by the VDC management. Once this is verified, applicants will be informed about the outcome of their application, and the final stage of payment and signing of membership agreement will be finalized. This shall provide the applicant with full regular membership status together with access to the applicable VDC resources, as detailed in the section entitled ‘Eligibility, selection criteria and conditions to become a member’ below.

  • Studio-Based Members

Studio-based members are provided with exclusive access to one of the studios at the Cluster, together with access to shared facilities which are also open to regular members, namely the co-working space, the makerspace, meeting rooms, the foodspace, and related facilities.

The Valletta Design Cluster has 15 studios to be used by practitioners in the eligible fields of practice. The limited number of studios means that a selection process needs to be put in place to identify applicants that are most in line with the membership community approach of the Cluster. This is a competitive process, and selection is based on the established criteria stipulated in the section entitled ‘Eligibility, selection criteria and conditions to become a member’ below. The Valletta Cultural Agency will manage the overall application process and will make use of independent evaluators for the evaluation phase of the process.

The application process for the studios will follow the same initial steps as for regular members, with online registration and full application. The submitted applications will be evaluated by independent evaluators based on the established criteria. A list of selected applicants will be generated following the completion of the evaluation process. The Valletta Cultural Agency shall ensure the smooth running and administration of this process. Following the confirmation of selected applicants, studio-based membership for the top-ranked applicants shall proceed with the signing of a membership agreement and the securing of payment.

Who can become a Valletta Design Cluster member?

Both regular and studio-based membership are open to organisations satisfying the following three criteria:

  • having an official registered address in Valletta;
  • having a valid legal status as a Voluntary Organisation or registered Non-Governmental Organisation;
  • are active in a field related to design and engaged in the cultural and social sphere and with community members in Valletta, or on a national or international level.

Economic operators employing ten employees or less (micro-enterprise) as well as freelancers active primarily in the areas listed below are eligible for regular membership. Studio-based membership is open to organisations employing at least two persons within:

  • the cultural and creative industries, with a focus on design-related practice
  • social enterprise
  • technology (all areas and applications)
  • food and agri-business
  • maker-related practices

Entities, being either public or non-governmental, as well as individuals falling within one of the following categories are eligible for regular membership. Studio-based membership is only open to non-governmental organisations:

  • Officially registered organisations (NGOs, enterprises) active in design, environmental, and social spheres and active with local communities on a national or international level
  • Public entities operating in the design, social, environmental, and educational sectors, as well as those focusing on delivering services aimed at achieving positive social impact through improved well-being for all
  • Individuals engaged in design practice, social impact activity, and food and maker-based practices

Students satisfying all of the following criteria are eligible, on an individual basis, for regular membership:

  • Students coming from all branches of knowledge, but especially those following design-related courses and those looking for professional engagement in design-related sectors
  • Students following full-time or part-time courses at officially recognised higher-educational institutions in Malta and Gozo
  • Students over the age of 16

Eligibility, selection criteria and conditions to become a member

Regular Membership

Eligible category of applicants: Valletta community (Malta-registered NGOs/VOs); students; start-ups (micro-enterprises and freelancers); individuals and locally-registered organisations and enterprises active in design-related practice, social impact, and maker-based practices, as well public entities active in the design, social, environmental, and educational sectors.

Fee: €200 per year (inclusive of VAT) – 2021-2022. This amount shall be paid upon signing the membership Terms and Conditions.

Changes to Membership Fee: The Valletta Cultural Agency retains the right to increase chargeable membership fees up to 10% annually to cover additional operational costs, starting from the year 2023.

Fee exemption: Payment of the regular membership fee for eligible Valletta-based organisations and for full-time students is waived. Only a one-time non-refundable €20 processing fee (inclusive of VAT) shall be charged when applying for membership for these categories of users.

 
Terms & Conditions for Regular Members (Valid till end December 2022)
 
  • Membership provides access, up to 20hrs per week, to all shared facilities – co-working space, makerspace, meeting rooms (including conference hall), foodspace, and related facilities. Access to the makerspace, the foodspace and the conference hall will be regulated by specific guidelines for those spaces, linked to health & safety, skills-based conditions and availability. Additional hour allocations may be considered, subject to prior notification.
  • Water, electricity, and internet access are included in the membership package at no extra cost. Conditions, including terms of payment, related to any additional consumables will be communicated separately and included in the final terms and conditions. The Valletta Cultural Agency retains the right to make changes to these terms and conditions at any point in time,and it shall inform applicants and members accordingly.
  • All areas and facilities are pre-bookable and are subject to availability on a first-booked first-served basis.
  • Regular Member status is valid for renewable one-year terms, starting from the date of membership approval.
  • For organisations, membership includes passes for employees or active associates (up to 10 passes per member), each of which will provide individual access to the Cluster facilities up to the maximum entitled number of hours (20hrs) per week.
  • Regular members are responsible for member’s guests while on site.
  • Contribution to community – members will be invited to join the regular Cluster community meetings and can also request one-to-one sessions with the Cluster management for support, on a case-by-case basis.
  • Access time to shared facilities: 07:00-23:00 daily including weekends and public holidays. Any changes to these timings shall be notified to members in advance.
 
Selection Criteria

This membership category is not restricted in number and applications are based on basic eligibility. Therefore, given this is not a competitive application process, no selection criteria are applicable for Regular Membership.

 

Studio-Based Membership

The section below takes you through the eligibility and selection criteria for studio-based membership of the Valletta Design Cluster.

Eligibility to apply for studio-based membership is based on the following eligibility criteria:

  • Eligible areas of main activity: To make use of the studio, the applicant organisation must be active in any of the following areas: design, social and environmental impact, or maker-based practice;
  • Registered status of applicant organisation: Organisations must have a locally registered valid legal status as an economic operator, enterprise, cooperative, partnership, NGO/VO or other legally recognised entity. Individuals, freelancers and organisations made up of only one person are not eligible for studio-based membership.
  • Minimum usage levels: Organisations must ensure a minimum guaranteed usage level of the requested studio by two users (full-time equivalent), with 60% occupancy of the space during opening times. These two users (minimum) can be founders, employees, associates, volunteers or members of the applicant organisation.
 
Terms & Conditions for Studio-Based Members (Valid till end December 2022)
 
  • Members will be provided with an access-controlled single studio (exclusive use) plus access to all shared (bookable) facilities.
  • Fee: €1,200 (or Two-part payments) inclusive of VAT – 2021-2022. This amount may be paid either as a lump sum upon signing the membership Terms and Conditions or alternatively, with the consent of the Valletta Cultural Agency, via two-part payments. With regards to the latter, the payment terms will be established by the Valletta Cultural Agency upon discussion and agreement with the particular members’.
  • Changes to Membership Fee: The Valletta Cultural Agency retains the right to increase chargeable membership fees up to 10% annually to cover additional operational costs, starting from the year 2023.
  • Fee for shared studio: €500 per member, minimum 2 members, with same occupancy conditions.
  • Studio membership can also be considered for non studio-based users – i.e. for members based in other spaces (especially the makerspace and foodspace); these may be discussed and agreed, including specific conditions, on a case-by-case basis.
  • Amenities provided as part of the membership package: 1 table, 4 chairs, basic storage, electricity, water, wifi. Conditions, including terms of payment, related to any additional consumables will be communicated separately and included in the final terms and conditions. The Valletta Cultural Agency retains the right to make changes to these terms and conditions at any point in time, and it shall inform applicants and members accordingly.
  • As part of the membership package, a membership pass is provided for employees or active associates (up to 10 passes per member).
  • The Studio member shall be responsible for her/his own guests while on site.
  • High-consumption equipment is to be cleared separately. Possible extra payment may be incurred depending on the kind of equipment to be cleared.
  • Contribution to community: Members will be asked to join the regular Cluster community meetings and may also be requested to provide in-kind support to other community members, on a case by case basis, as part of the community engagement process for studio-based members.
  • The Code of Conduct and the Health and Safety conditions are to be communicated by the Valletta Design Custer management to the members separately. Upon the signing of the Membership Terms and Conditions, the Members shall also be binding themselves by the Code of Conduct and Health and Safety conditions. Both these documents are subject to any necessary amendments upon review on a periodic basis.
  • Insurance: Every Studio member is obliged to have an insurance policy to cover the member organisation and any third parties, as well as any damages caused by the members making use of the studio. Any member who requires assistance in acquiring an insurance policy may communicate with the Valletta Cultural Agency to be provided with such assistance.
  • Access time to studios and facilities: 06:00-00:00 daily including weekends and public holidays. Notification for changes or limitations on these hours will be provided by the Valletta Design Cluster management, in due time wherever possible.
  • Regular check-in sessions with management – one-to-one and group sessions with studio members will be organised by the Valletta Design Cluster management, including review of business and organisational development, throughout the term of membership.
  • An annual review will be carried out by the Valletta Design Cluster team to verify compliance with membership conditions, following which membership may be renewed.
  • Where relevant, a three-year major review of a member’s operations will be carried out and a possible shift of such members to an Alumni Programme (involving shift of main base of member’s practice to outside the Valletta Design Cluster) may be considered.
  • Studio-based members can use the Valletta Design Cluster address to receive mail or packages, and they can also use it in communication materials, websites, business cards, flyers, etc.
 
Selection Criteria
 

A minimum of 60% score is required for the applicant to be considered for studio allocation. Non-selected applicants that reach the pass mark will be placed on a waiting list. Feedback will also be provided to unsuccessful applicants, based on scores to criteria for their application.


Selection Criterion 1: Applicant’s Core Activity (20%)

The applicant’s core activity must address the following areas:

(a) the applicant is an active contributor to the generation of cultural, social and economic value through design-related practice on the local or international scene;
(b) the applicant’s activity is grounded on a sound financial sustainability and viability plan, and is connected to a longer-term vision for the development of the applicant and its core activity;
(c) the proposed activity aims to achieve positive social impact through meaningful and relevant engagement with contemporary cultural and creative practices and social issues.


Selection Criterion 2: Applicant’s proposal to make the best use of the space (20%)

The applicant proposes to maximise the benefits of the space and facilities applied for by:

(a) extending the use of the studio to a wider group of associated practitioners;
(b) ensuring the studio is used efficiently by minimising inactive time;
(c) expressing willingness to share the studio with other members, where compatible and relevant.


Selection Criterion 3: Openness for Collaboration (20%)

The applicant plans to adopt an open approach for its core practice at the Cluster by at least adopting one of the following:

(a) use the studio and the wider membership benefits to engage in interdisciplinary projects and initiatives involving multiple stakeholders through design;
(b) address social and cultural diversity on a local, national or international level through its core design-related activity;
(c) develop its skills, knowledge, practices and other intangible assets by using the resources at the Cluster and to share these with other members and beyond.


Selection Criterion 4: Sustainability in Practice (20%)

The applicant demonstrates significant engagement and commitment to sustainable practices by demonstrating adoption of one or more of the following measures in its planned activities at the Cluster:

  • measures that address climate change, that reduce the operation’s carbon footprint and that have mitigating and, where possible, positive environmental impacts;
  • measures to adopt recycling and reuse practices, minimise waste generation, and minimise resource consumption in any form through the applicant’s practices;
  • measures that concretely and positively effect the well-being of the community beyond the applicant’s internal associates or members, including through better co-management, use and enjoyment of public space and resources within and outside of the Valletta Design Cluster.


Selection Criterion 5: Demonstrated Need for Studio Space (20%)

The applicant clearly demonstrates that the design-related activity proposed cannot be fulfilled through Regular Membership status only. In this case, the applicant needs to show that:

(a) the core activity that will be practiced at the Cluster cannot be satisfactorily fulfilled through access to spaces and facilities covered by regular membership conditions (i.e. through access and use of the shared spaces and facilities of the Cluster, such as meeting rooms, makerspace, etc.);
(b) the facilities currently available to the applicant outside of the Cluster (own studio spaces and workshops, rented spaces and facilities, temporary arrangements, etc.) cannot satisfactorily fulfil the core activity of the applicant;
(c) no facilities or spaces are currently available or in use by the applicant and access to a studio at the Cluster would provide an appropriate and satisfactory base from where the core activity of the applicant can be launched and/or fulfilled.

 

Applicable Membership Fees:
 
Standard fee (one organisation in one studio) - €1,200/year (incl. VAT)
Fee for shared studio - €500 per organisation (minimum 2 organisations in one studio)

What do we understand by Design?

At the Valletta Design Cluster, we believe that by engaging in activities that improve social well-being, we serve better our communities and fulfil our role as a platform for empowerment and exchange. To this effect, our understanding of design is informed by principles of inclusivity, co-creation and experimentation. Cultural practice, sustainable enterprise, and socially-engaged initiatives can be important contributors in translating this vision into reality.

Inspired by these principles, the working definition of design that guides the work of the Valletta Design Cluster, and that is being used in the engagement with its community of users and members, is the following:

‘Design is a user-centred approach to problem-solving that can be applied across the private and public sectors to drive innovation in products, services, society and even policy-making by putting people first.’

This working definition is based on the work developed in Design4Innovation, an Interreg Europe project of which the Valletta Design Cluster has been a partner since 2017. Further to this, the Valletta Design Cluster has been engaging locally and internationally with design practice and design policy for the past five years. The Valletta Design Cluster has been a full member of the Bureau of European Design Associations (BEDA) since 2016. It has also been engaging with the Design Justice Network, with a view to developing and applying an understanding of design and design practice that is empowering, inclusive and relevant to today’s challenges and opportunities.