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Devoted & Disgruntled 12: What Shall We Do About Theatre and the Performing Arts Now?

I'm moving to Cardiff: Hello?!

Jennifer Lunn - 15 January 2017

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I'm Moving to Cardiff: Hello?!

Session called by: Jen Lunn

Attendees: Penny King, Debbie Hard, Adam Blake, Zoe Waterman, Elise Davison, Hannah McPake, Beth Caudle.

This was a really fascinating discussion which looked at ways of accessing the theatre community in Cardiff as a newcomer but also discussions about what development might be needed for that community. A massive to thanks to the current Cardiff folks for their sharing of info with us soon to be Welsh residents!!

Apologies but this is really a list of things discussed in the order they came up!

I (Jen) am moving to Cardiff in April, Beth is moving there in May, Penny has just arrived in Cardiff for a year and Adam and Debbie are moving to near Caldicot soon.

I spoke about an idea of setting up an artist development space - similar to a Theatre Delicatessen model - which offers office space, affordable rehearsal space and studio level performance opportunities.

Elise, Hannah and Zoe spoke about how this feels like it is really needed in Cardiff. That there is an absence of a middle level of work and opportunities for companies who are mainly project funded and wanting to professionalise.

There has been some experience of looking into Asset Transfer via the council but it has so far not come to fruition. ~This can be because relationships are often with one person and if that person moves on then the entire process is dropped. The benefit of Asset transfer however is that the rents are often peppercorn. No Fit State have had a few buildings and spaces through the council. But have had to deal with leaking roofs etc so still not ideal.

It was suggested that if companies were prepared to move outside of Cardiff then it would be easier to access funds as there is a need to distribute funds more evenly throughout Wales rather than being Cardiff centric.

Chapter Arts Centre has resident artists and companies but in practice that seems to be little more than just office space.

It would be good if companies could work together to look into creating a new space. Or that perhaps there could be an individual or organisation whose purpose is to secure/establish a space for a group of companies. Currently the companies wanting to find a space are all so busy making work that the space finding falls to the bottom of the list and therefor doesn't happen. There is Capital Lottery Fund money available potentially.

National Theatre Wales have provided a good forum for people to raise profile etc but again no physical space to work etc and how do companies move beyond the emerging level of work.
ACW have offered small development grants for organistions to explore what they need to do to move forward and develop but there is no follow up funding to support the actioning of those findings.

We also discussed other places in Wales that had cultural stuff goingon…

Newport - Has the Riverfront Venue who do stuff including an outdoor performance festival called The Big Splash.

Chepstow has a small traditional pros arch theatre - The Drill Hall?

We then talked about the ACW “The Night Out Scheme” which is a scheme by which promoters (who can be a community organisation) can buy in theatre shows for the village hall, community centre etc. It's a great way of getting work seen and doesn't involve the advance info etc that is required by rural touring scheme. Basically the shows are underwritten by ACW so the risk is removed for the promoter.
Peter Gregory at ACW is the contact.

We talked about The Other Room in Cardiff - the only fringe venue in Cardiff, run by Kate Wasserburg and Bizzi. It has changed the scene quite dramatically and is producing and hosting very exciting studio sized work.

It was expressed by several people that Theatre makers etc in Cardiff are very friendly and completely open to chatting to new arrivals etc. The scene is small which means people come to see your owrk and there is a sense of a real community.

There was a hope that more newcomers to the scene would help prevent theatre in Wales becoming to insular. Links between Cardiff and Bristol would be good for bridging the short distance between the two.

We discussed differences between ACE and ACW - ACW has deadlines for apps but ACE doesn't. No Grantium in Wales. Match funding rules are different and ACW tours can only be 15% outside Wales.

It was noted that you can have both ACW and ACE money for the same project if it tours to both England and Wales.

Cardiff people commented how great ACW are at nurturing and meeting and being generally really helpful.

Important to know that ACW require you to do a small app first (and successfully complete to a high quality) in order to apply for a larger app. This is true even if members of a collaboration have individually had successful apps before. However the 6 week turnaround means it is quick. Also there are several strands so you can have several apps at once.

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