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Nicosia Pop Up Festival involving Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs)


Terms of reuse
CC BY 2.0

Type of best practice
Cooperation between Museums and Heritage sites

Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs), Creative Tourism, Nicosia, Festival


An initiative to mobilize and motivate Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) to contribute to the growth of a new economic model through the renewing of urban space and the re-mobilization of tourists’ interest.

Organisation in charge of best practice
Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre (NiMAC), Nicosia Tourism Board (NTB)

Nicosia, Cyprus



During the financial crisis in Cyprus creative actors had been neglected, urban degradation was noted and tourists were experiencing Nicosia's stagnation. Responding to this situation, NiMAC (Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre) took the initiative to mobilize and motivate Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs). Through the review and redefinition of their role, CCIs would be able to contribute to the growth of a new economic model through the renewing of urban space and the re-mobilization of tourists’ interest.

An average of 30 unexploited shops are being renovated and rented to creative actors in low costs, for 6 weeks. Shops are located within a degraded urban district. Through an open call, NiMAC chooses the most relevant proposals to the 4th content pillars: innovation, trade, culture/arts and education. Additionally, NiMAC has the responsibility of implementing the marketing plan for promoting actors, events and the festival. Also, more than 20 special events are organised hosting cultural and creative shows, exhibitions, installations, open-air music events, lectures and workshops, the festival fosters, grassroots networking, cooperation, interaction, encouragement of synergies and stimulation for innovative and prototype artistic production.

An outstanding example of a CCIs festival that is re-shaping an area’s image and develop Creative Tourism. Creative artists, locals and tourists are interacting and co-producing new forms of cultural products having a sustainable social and economic impact.

Expert opinion (Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform)

This is an interesting practice that was initiated in the wake of the 2013 economic crisis. The Creative and Cultural Industry has been identified as an important contributor to the new economic model by renewing urban space and promoting creative tourism.

The festival receives applications from startups, business professionals, young entrepreneurs, art retailers (e.g. art exhibitions, installations, theatre, music, and dance shows and performances), as well as education experts (e.g. workshops, courses, lectures, and other related activities) and craftsmen.

Although the practice began as a 6-week festival it has had a broader impact. The festival is a precursor of the Nicosia’s “Creative Business Quarter” strategic plan and a catalyst for upgrading municipal plans of urban revitalization, enrichment of cultural policies and improvement of urban mobility plans. The Nicosia Municipality has therefore taken a strategic aim to provide yearly investments into developing the space where CCI can flourish while also improving the aesthetics of degraded urban areas.

This practice could be of other policy makers seeking to use the potential of CCI for strengthening the local economy and can be especially interesting in the Covid-19 crisis context. As international tourism will most likely not return to its former volume in the months to come, initiatives such as a CCI festival can increase the attractiveness of a municipality for internal tourism.

NiMAC [Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, Associated with the Pierides Foundation / Old Powerhouse] is housed in the renovated building of the Old Powerhouse, located in the historical centre of Nicosia after an agreement between the Electricity Authority of Cyprus and Nicosia Municipality. NiMAC was inaugurated on 14 January 1994 and it is the oldest and largest Contemporary Art Centre of the island. Its architectural restoration and conversion into a beautiful art and cultural space was awarded the Europa Nostra Award in 1994. During its twenty plus years of its operation, the Nicosia Arts Centre has organized and presented more than eighty exhibitions of modern and contemporary art with the participation of well-known artists from Cyprus and abroad. Many of these were organized in collaboration with museums, art centres and cultural institutions of Europe and other countries.

The Nicosia Open Up Festival – A festival open to all is a multi-dimensional arts festival that features an art exhibition, performances, an open discussion, lectures–performances, video-installations, multifaceted art activities, music, screenings, a street party, culinary events and workshops. The four- day events of the festival begin on Thursday, 19 October 2023, with the opening of the Open Up exhibition at NiMAC [The Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, Associated with the Pierides Foundation] and conclude on Sunday, 22 October 2023, with a large street party.

The Nicosia Open Up Festival is organised by the Pierides Foundation within the framework of the European project OPEN UP in collaboration with six other major and renowned partners: Publics Agency, Helsinki (Finland), Valand Academy, Gothenburg (Sweden), New Hand Lab Center, Covilha (Portugal), University of Thessaly, Volos (Greece), Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain), University of Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens (France).

The festival presents works by artists who participated in workshops, seminars and various other activities organised and implemented by all partner-institutions participating in the OPEN UP project during the four-year programme (2019–2023). The aim of the programme and of the festival itself is to promote talented artists from Cyprus, Finland, Sweden, Portugal, Greece, Spain and France who for various reasons –political, geographical, social and economic– were not able to present their work at local or European level. The Nicosia Open Up Festival is the last and major event of the European project and reflects the programme’s vision: Faith in the value of human creativity.

This is the first time that such a festival is organised in Cyprus; one that seeks to bring to the surface and give a platform to 70 artists. During the four-day festival, various events will be held in four venues (NiMAC, Theatro Polis–OPAP, Gardens of the Future, and various outdoor spaces around NiMAC), the entrance to which will be free for the public.

The Nicosia Open Up Festival – a festival open to all aspires to become an event of inclusion and common understanding of numerous diverse artists and practices.

Open Up is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union


Resources needed
Pop Up is funded by the Nicosia Municipality with €50000 per year and an additional amount of €20000 is been secured from private sponsorship. In-kind sponsors support the restoration of the shops. Municipality implements logistics, health and security plans utilizing all its available recourses.

Challenges encountered

Evidence of success
CCIs are being considered as a fundamental force of change. Festival accelerates new creative business, stimulates the review of Municipal strategic plans (e.g 30m invest on Nicosia’s Creative Business Quarter, taxes incentives) and policies of the ministry of the interior. At the same time, it cultivates urban consciousness and urban aesthetics. The success of the Festival is also proven by the high level of attendance, as approximately 30.000 – 35.000 thousand people are visiting the festival

Potential for transfer
The “festivalization” of the CIs is a fundamental and efficient way of developing Cultural Creative Tourism. During a festival, creative actors can be gathered together and coherently presented to particular target groups archiving promotion, networking and strengthening of cultural industries which are fundamental priorities for further development of both CCIs and the city. Key success factors are the improvement of corporate sponsorship whilst enhancing strong collaboration with private organisations. Other key success factors include the promotion of cultural and creative production, diversification of activities, and amelioration of accessibility. The festival had been a precursor of the Nicosia’s “Creative Business Quarter” strategic plan and a catalyst for upgrading municipal plans of urban revitalization, enrichment of cultural policies and improvement of urban mobility plans.

Further Information

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004545.

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