A city of artisans, and most of all ceramists, Barcelos is known for being the cradle of the Rooster of Barcelos (Galo de Barcelos); the Portuguese emblem and symbol of good faith and justice. County town with just under 120,000 inhabitants, Barcelos creates a strong bond between the local residents and the crafts community, paving the way for a sustainable creative sector. Today, the sector represents 40 enterprises and employs roughly 8% of the county's active population. The city strives to support the vitality of the sector and encourage a new generation of artisans.
Barcelos hosts a two weeks Craftsmanship and Ceramics Exhibition; an initiative designed to promote local and national traditional arts and crafts. This popular event has, in previous years, welcomed over 100,000 visitors. Barcelos also undertakes a series of initiatives to encourage young people to engage in the creative sector. Artistic Project, organised by the Municipality, aims to reduce school dropout rates by promoting culture-oriented education and professionalization. The city has also restored the Pottery Museum and the Medieval Tower, converting them into creative spaces for cultural activities, enabling craft knowledge transfer to continue through the generations.
In order to effectively strengthen the creative sector, the council implemented the Creative Attract Programme with the aim of supporting the professionalization of the field, certifying local productions, promoting local arts and crafts in national and international events, and supporting creative tourism initiatives. As part of its Strategic Plan for Urban Sustainable Development, Barcelos is renovating a series of historically important buildings and sites in the medieval city centre in order to provide additional spaces for the creation and promotion of culture within the area.
As a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art, Barcelos envisages:
- creating a Centre for Art Expression and revitalising the José Novais Square – two spaces for the community dedicated to learning, entertainment, scientific knowledge and creativity, and connecting with other UCCN members throughout the design and development process;
- strengthening the Education Through Art Programme; a municipal initiative to tackle school dropout rates through the placement of artistic projects in educational programmes, notably through new perspectives brought by cooperation and exchange with other Creative Cities of Crafts and Folk Art;
- implementing the Crafts and Folk Art Internationalization Project; a municipal strategy for local creators, aimed at supporting the sector towards the development of an effective and sustainable creative economy;
- organising an International Meeting of Crafts & Folk Art and Creative Buyers to encourage cultural and economic exchanges between Creative Cities and creators; and
- cooperating with cities from the Global South to foster mobility, creative development, nurture intercultural exchanges and best practices.