11 May 2022
By Elaine Murphy
Four Cork art, design and craft organisations have teamed up to use an EU project to celebrate and support local creativity as part of a new pop-up festival, STAMP, taking place this May 13th-15th across 11 City Centre locations.
Courtesy of their combined membership, benchspace, Sample-Studios, Cork Craft & Design and Shandon Art Studios have collectively assembled a jam-packed weekend programme of 55 art, design and craft events, exhibitions, workshops, demonstrations, panel discussions, screenings and markets to appeal to locals and visitors alike. STAMP event highlights include a market in Emmett Place with demos taking place throughout Saturday and Sunday; a live Blacksmith’s forge presented by benchspace in TEST SITE (Kyrl’s Quay); and INTER_SITE at NIGHT – a light and sound installation that will see local artist collective INTER_SITE illuminate the former Argos building (Queen’s Old Castle) on Grand Parade, presented by Sample-Studios. Other venues include Shandon Plaza, Triskel Arts Centre, the Glucksman Gallery, The Address Hotel, The Lord Mayor’s Pavilion (Fitzgerald’s Park) and St. Luke’s Crypt.
What makes this event a little different and innovative is that the emphasis is primarily on interaction and experiencing-by-doing or by making in order to gain a true taste and appreciation of what Cork’s local creativity has to offer. This means opportunities for the public to try their hands at creative writing, printmaking, origami, life drawing and botanical art, to name but a few activities, as well as to view fabric painting, woodturning and ceramics-making up close.
STAMP has been made possible by Cork City Council’s involvement in the Cult-CreaTE EU cooperation project (INTERREG EUROPE). This initiative has brought Cork into contact with partner cities and organisations across Europe to exchange and learn on approaches to the development of opportunities within this niche tourism area for small cultural and creative businesses.
As Seamus Coghlan, Cork City Council Head of Economic Development, explains “This project has been about celebrating cultural & creative industries, not only for the vibrancy that they so obviously bring but also economically, in terms of their contribution and their further potential. This is something that can get overlooked due to the small-scale of operation involved – often at individual level – where artists, makers and creators are concerned. However, the sum of these parts represents a real asset in adding to the unique attractiveness of any city, especially in a post-pandemic context, and this is something that is increasingly sought after by tourists in particular .’’
The City’s EU Affairs Coordinator, Ronan Gingles, characterises Cork’s take on the project as one of empowering the four creative organisations, and their wider membership, for the longer-term, particularly in seeking to be responsive to their shared desire to use the opportunity to boost their sector’s profile and influence locally. ‘’The festival is only one, frontloaded element of the STAMP concept arising from the project process to date. The Cork groups drew particular inspiration from learning about work that has been undertaken in our partner city of Dundee to intertwine the management of creative actors with tourism. This persuaded the City Council to facilitate a tailored branding and marketing support programme whereby they could co-develop their own grassroots umbrella cluster and shared identity. Having been finalised in the Spring, STAMP is now ready to be rolled out as a pilot in the form of what we hope will prove popular enough to be an inaugural pop-up festival – itself based on a good practice annual event from Nicosia. We see this not just as providing a necessary showcase of local wares in prominent city centre locations but as a chance for creative thinking, artistic collaboration and inspiration to take a real step forward in assertively making its mark on Cork’s future development.’’
The STAMP partners gratefully acknowledge additional financial support from Cork City Local Enterprise Office (LEO) as well as from the Creative Ireland Programme. The initiative is associated with the We Are Cork Place Brand.