Is there anyone else here from Cardiff?

Convener(s): Catriona James – [email protected]

Participants: Catriona James, Lisa Turner, Rachael Spence

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

I’ve lived in Cardiff for just over a year, having moved there from London. Lisa is originally from Cardiff, has lived in London for a number of years, and is now based in Cardiff but studying in London (and so dividing her time between both places). Rachael’s sister lives in Cardiff, though she herself has never lived there and is based in London.

There don’t appear to be many Cardiff-based theatre-makers and performers here! I’d like to know why, as there is definitely a lot of performing arts being made in Cardiff. Obviously we could only make suppositions about this, but I may try to answer the question as I meet more people in Wales. I’m also trying to build a network in Cardiff comparable to the one I have in London, and finding it challenging – Lisa and I agreed on this. While the community in Cardiff is very friendly, it also appears (from the outside) to be quite closed. We both agreed that we can probably create that network, but it will take time. 

Rachael joined us, and we talked a bit about whether living in Cardiff gives you any advantage when it comes to the work being produced by BBC Wales. Our conclusion was probably not. They likely cast out of London, you need an agent etc… the usual TV story. It probably doesn’t hurt to be in Cardiff, as they may try to use local talent where possible.

We discussed the National Theatre Wales and “Welshness”. The NTW is doing generally great work in its first year, and trying to engage many different parts of Wales. Because their work has mostly been quite local in orientation, we have the feeling that we are “not Welsh enough” to be a part of it (though John McGrath isn’t Welsh). I’ve got Welsh ancestry, but am here 100 years later via Scotland, Canada and Malaysia. None of us speaks Welsh. Conclusion was that it’s probably good for NTW to do this in its first year, but we hope it becomes more outward looking down the road.

We also touched on the general aspects of being an artist living in Cardiff. Cost of living is low, but it is very difficult to find secondary work. What work exists is low-paid. On the upside, the Welsh are bloody friendly and there is a real community feeling! And that’s a pretty big plus for Cardiff.