Flinders Street. City Lane and Central Village see a steady turnover in patrons, with a few people darting between shops up and down the rest of the street. But it’s rare. Rare, too, are occupied buildings. Vacant storefronts line the strip, with previous owners’ innovative ideas fading on signs above.
While projects in the past have sought to fix the vacancies with long-term solutions, a new annual Festival may provide the kickstart Townsville’s CBD needs to come alive.
Umbrella Studio contemporary arts is reinvigorating the idea of creative city activations with its inaugural Pop-Up North Queensland (PUNQ) Festival. The event will run for 10 days, and is expected to remind us of the area’s potential, by inviting owners of vacant city spaces to open their doors to assigned creatives, who will take up residency in the space for the period of the Festival. The vision is for the CBD to burst to life with pop-up shops, exhibitions; workshops; film screenings, and more.
Umbrella’s Special Events Coordinator, Linda Yeo, said PUNQ would be part of a larger picture for Townsville and leverage off events such as the Strand Ephemera and Festival of Chamber Music which already bring visitors to the city.
“PUNQ will bring local and interstate artists into various spaces across the CBD, activating the area and demonstrating the importance of a vibrant and active community and the exciting possibilities of creative business,” said Linda.
“Nearly 40 creative people will be involved in the 10-day Festival including international artist Piyali Ghosh, local and interstate artists in action, pop-up ukestra performances, puppetry games and performances, ceramics, sculpture and classic films just to name a few.”
Townsville Classic Films will host screenings throughout the event at various locations including the Basement Bar and infamous Hoi Polloi Café.
Empty shop spaces have been secured in various locations on Flinders, Denham and Stokes Streets, including in the Northtown precinct.
“There will also be interactive workshops in fabric dying, drawing, petal couture, painting, nautical knotting, woven milk crates and building an on-site Trojan horse.
Townsville’s inaugural PUNQ Festival is anticipated to evolve into an annual event, with next year’s pencilled in to align with Commonwealth Games celebrations in the city.
Catch the launch of Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts’ Pop Up North Queensland Festival at the Herbert Hotel on 29 July. Installations, pop-up shops and exhibitions will be on display throughout the CBD until 6 August. For a program of events and artist introductions, visit umbrella.org.au/punq