• Stoke-on-Trent, UK
  • 14.11.18
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A Warm Welcome to the DCMS Judges

  • 17 October 2017
  • Posted by Chrish

As creatives, it's always exciting when something sweeps through the community; sparking discussion, collaboration and ideas. For Stoke-on-Trent that's exactly what the City of Culture 2021 Bid has done. A city that once upon a time was seen as being split between six towns has in recent years seen a connection we've all been hoping to see, and it's happened just in time for the bid. Our six towns are working harder than ever — together! — to form a creative union which is driving our city's culture in the same forwards direction.

It's a bit of a cheesy metaphor but we believe Stoke-on-Trent's arts and cultural scene can be seen as a bit plant-like. For years, it's been sat below the surface of the soil, its roots growing, invisible to everyone but those ready to dig through it. As the excitement and awareness for the City of Culture bid has begun to spread, our culture has begun to peek above the surface — slowly at first — but gaining momentum and inevitably blooming.

We've seen this over the past two Stoke Art Map events, how the size of the event has spread across two towns now and over two weekends, with participation at an all time high. The Stoke Art Map is a project lead by various creatives across the city, including ACAVA Studios, Appetite and Airspace Gallery, which aims to involve the local people with our independent arts and culture scene. We've seen exhibitions, workshops, talks, walks and some fantastic food and drink.

We were fortunate to be asked by ACAVA to design the Stoke Art Map for the second year running, after the previous success of our bespoke map and guide created in 2016. We gave the brand a refresh with a new colour and worked with the ACAVA team to create a helpful pocket-sized map of both Stoke and Hanley — plotting the many venues of the 2017 map.

We've been busy, and so has the entire city; working hard, flexing their creative muscles and championing our thriving cultural scene. You've really got to tip your hat to all of the impressive businesses, institutions and individuals that are carrying the torch of our city, and of course to our hard working @sot2021 bidding team keeping their ear to the ground and making some noise about it all.

It's impossible to name everyone we admire, but a few that have stood out to us include Helen Marshall with The Peoples Picture project, Anna Francis with The People's Walk of Fame and, of course, Paul Williams for his relentless support of everything local.

We've continually been working hard on our Well Now You Know (Well NYK) project — our curated "what's on" listings around Stoke-on-Trent. We feel passionate that as this project grows it will become an invaluable part of Stoke-on-Trent's culture, weaving together the many events and venues that make our city a fantastic place to be a part of.

Well NYK has come a long way from its original idea and continues to be a project we love working on. A labour of love, we've worked hard on not just designing and developing the idea ready for the web, but analysing user feedback to continually iterate and improve on the system and we continue to do that today.

Of course, we're exceptionally proud of our involvement in the Stoke-on-Trent City of Culture 2021 branding. From pitching our original designs to the board, to designing and developing the website and championing an events-led approach to promoting the city, to finally letting it out into the wild where (structured by the brand guidelines we provided) the brand has created a whole culture of its own, with swathes of followers eager to put their spin on.

We're clearly very proud to be part of the fabric of Stoke-on-Trent, through our own personal projects and working with local businesses to champion pride in design integrity, we hope to continue working hard with you all in the coming months and years.