This week saw the creative community come together to start a discussion on the future of creative spaces in Cardiff at the sharing of Plan C.
The Public Meeting was initiated by, and held at, The Sustainable Studio who since 2016 have built an engaged community of makers at their Dumballs Road coworking space. A large-scale development is planned by Vastint UK for the site and the studio will close at the end of the year if an alternative space is not found.
Founders Julia Harris and Sarah Valentin have raised concerns about the affordability, availability and sustainability of spaces for creative and cultural practice in Cardiff.
Julia said: “There are the same issues about affordable spaces for creative people that existed 50 years ago – there needs to be long-term solutions for creatives in this city.”
Julia was joined by Stephanie Bolt, who laid out some of the options and learnings from elsewhere. Plan C is a new grassroots economic model that builds creative and cultural resilience connecting cross-sector. A Cardiff-wide movement campaigning for community-owned and run cultural spaces. Suggestions raised at the first meeting included the cross-sector use of Section 106 legislation, collectively exploring long-term investment models and a community development society.
Stephanie said: “This needs to be about action. It is about building something together - it is about what Cardiff can be. It’s about a passionate group of people that say – this is what I want to see in Cardiff as a creative city – how do I make it happen?”
Creative spaces, collaborations, communities & industries are vitally important and deeply rooted in Cardiff. @TSSWales @ThePrinthaus etc are being driven out of spaces for development - how do we make & keep affordable, sustainable creative spaces? pic.twitter.com/J5xwZG9YNl— Emina Redzepovic (@emina_discobra) May 7, 2019
Jude Lau, co-founder of The Printhaus, also shared information about the future of their community space at the meeting.
She said: “We’re in our tenth year now and we are quite unique - we set up small and have never received funding of any sort. We built very slowly by people taking membership. We have 66 active members, 40% of which are small businesses. It is a nice little community.
“We have until the end of the year until we have to relocate and our issue is securing that new space. We’re thinking about the users of the space - how does it affect them if there is a downtime, what kind of support is there? What resources do we have and how can we help each other?”
Julia continued: “Historically, we’ve lost people to other creative cities. But in the last three to five years, we’ve seen creative people stay in Cardiff.
“Not one business here has failed - they’ve been supported, there is help right there. They’ve been part of a collective that’s supportive. This can’t end, I can’t bear the thought of anyone going to work in their spare room. In terms of wellbeing it is important - we don’t want people to work in isolation.
“We need to look at models as a collective. This is such an old story - how do we change that up and look at a secure future not just for my kids but for my kids’ kids.”
Sara Pepper, Director of Creative Cardiff, said: “The meeting reinforced to me the rich history of DIY creative activity that we have in Cardiff and the range of amazing grassroots creative projects which exist and make such a difference to our city. There was real energy and commitment in the room.
“Plan C is timely as we are a young city growing and developing at a pace and it's important that we have a forum for discussion.
“I believe the next step is to develop a vehicle for formulating a clear plan and connecting with all stakeholders. To move forward, this needs to be a conversation which includes a wide range of stakeholders including real estate developers, local authorities, agencies etc. to develop a shared vision for this activity in Cardiff.
“At Creative Cardiff we have already done some work, in partnership with Arts Council of Wales and Cardiff Council, to look at aspects of our city from a creative-led angle. We also founded the Coworking Collective as a place for managers of these vital creative hubs and spaces to share their knowledge and learn from each other. We will be continuing to develop both of these strands in discussion with Creative Commons Cardiff.”
Julia ended the meeting with this thought: “We are seeing this as an opportunity, but it is hard to think about when we’ve built something here with everyone. Sometimes you’ve just got to start something yourself. We’re going to do something - if you would like to join us, please do.”
The next meeting of Creative Commons Cardiff will be at The Printhaus on 7 June from 6pm with a focus on action planning working groups.
Join the conversation online to shape the future of Cardiff’s creative spaces: