Found this really interesting article on clickonwales.org about Cardiff's role as a cultural centre and didn't really know where to put it, so I thought I'd start a new threadhttp://www.clickonwales.org/2012/11/cardiff-still-needs-to-aspire-to-be-capital-of-culture/
What do you guys think? Does Cardiff do enough? I recently read that it has some of the lowest levels of audiences for theatrical performances in any major UK city.
If it's the same report I read in the Echo it was a report from the 1960's. The Echo reprints various news stories from any given year presumably to walk their aging readership down memory land rather than go to the trouble of doing any actual journalism.
If it wasn't for the first part of that sentence then that post could have come straight from Jantra.
People are getting confused here!
Clearly the "Click on Wales" article is about the current position. The "yesterday's news" discussion refers to the mention of low theatrical attendances at the end of the original post.
I think the cultural offer is pretty good at the moment but we could do with a bit more Brizzle style counter culture - cultural life that isn't top-down and grant-aided.
This info from The Scotsman seems to suggest we're doing OK in terms of our tourism offer.
"As cash-strapped consumers rein in their discretionary spending, accountancy firm PKF found that occupancy levels across Scotland’s hotels were 1.6 per cent lower in September than a year earlier. That compared with a 1.8 per cent fall in England but a 0.7 per cent increase for Welsh hotels.
Meanwhile, room yields – the industry measure of revenues – slumped 7.8 per cent in Scotland, a much steeper decline than the 0.8 per cent dip seen across England and in stark contrast to a 3.1 per cent rise in Wales."
That information makes "Click on Wales" arguement that Cardiff needs an Edinburgh-style festival quango look slightly silly. Comparsisons with intitatives in Engish regional centres are off the mark as well. We already have a Culture Minister and an Arts Council. Why on earth do we need an overweening "cultural consortium"?
My apologies if I've taken this thread down a blind alley!
As a general comment I agree with Ash that culture seems to be more top down here rather than organic. I sense things are changing and just as an observation there seems to be a lot more cultural activity now than a few years ago especially in relation to live music.
I think Cardiff struggles to find it's cultural identity. Thats not surprising as its a relatively small city - when you think of places of similar size like Leicester or Nottingham they don't have a distinctive cultural voice. There is also a slightly ambivalent attitude (still) to taking on a wider Welsh culture. It leaves Cardiff with a bit of a split cultural personality and as a result doesn't project a strong identity. Thats just my opinion of course.
Just as examples I can't think of many authors who use Cardiff as a backdrop apart from John Williams and Dannie Abse both of who are only moderately well known. There's no literary figure you associate with the city. There isn't a body of writers with a distinctive style or world view here. Likewise there isn't a 'Cardiff sound' unlike places such as Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow or even Bristol. There isn't any food that you associate with the city apart from Clarks pies, there aren't any world or nationally famous arts institutions etc.
I don't think its surprising as Cardiff is quite small, quite young and has a transient population. I think the cultural offering here is as good or better as any other comparable city in the UK but it's a sort of appropriation of mainstream UK wide culture rather than something unique to the city.
Just my two pennorth of course.
Roald Dahl is synonymous with Cardiff surely? I also think that closing the point, the engine rooms and other such establishments does Cardiff's music scene no good at all. There is plenty of good local music (e.g. the future of the left) but with the council allowing the sort of venue that they'd play to close it becomes ever more difficult for such bands to build the following needed that end up creating a unique Cardiff sound.
I appreciate their is more to culture than just music but I mention it as an example of how little things can go a long way in creating something a little unique. It may be great having WMC and RWCMD but what we really need are more 'Chapters' and 'Globes'.
I would say Roald Dahl is synonymous with Cardiff only in the mind of the Council's marketing managers. I certainly don't blame them and we should be shameless in taking advantage of everything we can.
But until the Norwegian church was refurbed I didn't know that Roald Dahl was from Cardiff and I can't recall any of his books referencing the city or even Cardiff being mentioned in interviews. Other fairly famous novelists born in Cardiff but to whom the city is practically invisible include Howard Spring, Craig Thomas and Ken Follett. Not that I'm suggesting that they should have set all their novels in Cardiff it's just that none of the above could be considered Cardiff novelists in the way that Dannie Abse or John Williams could and to a much lesser extent Bernice Rubens.
As for live music venues I couldn't agree more. But for every Point or Engine Rooms that closes a Gwdihw, Porters, Fire Island etc etc takes it's place. The Swn festival strikes me as something that could grow year on year and become synonymous with Cardiff.
Cardiff is pretty small , and it doesn't do too badly compared to the nottinghams, sunderlands or leicesters out there.
There's an animation festival which could be expanded, as that is at least a bit different.
More live music venues would be good, perhaps we could copy some parts of the states and ban bars from advertising drinks promotions outside, this means more of them put other things on to advertise and tempt you in.
They could make a lot more out of the links with roald dahl though.
There are any number of tourist attractions based on his books that would work.
A James and the giant peach balloon ride
A chocolate factory ( in the prison perhaps?)
An underground fantastic Mr foxs lair in bute park?
A little imagination and I'm sure there are many more.
Chapter is pre-eminent in the UK as far as non-public sector arts centres are concerned. It has more going on than the Cornerhouse in Manchester or the Leadmill in Sheffield. I can't think of anywhere with such a comprehensive offering in Birmingham,Liverpool,Leeds,Newcastle or Glasgow either. Cardiff certainly lacks public Art galleries in number and we don't have too many theatres or auditoria but if you look at the programme for performances at RWCMD then the artists are invariably world-class and that is hardly Cardiff's foremost venue. Comparing us with Edinburgh or London is not going to make our offering look great but the ClickonWales article is really a kick up the bum to the industry rather than a critique of Cardiff's cultural offering.
Anyone remember that proposal for a Roald Dhal museum, situated where the St.David's hotel currently is ? It was quite a few years ago obviously but curious at the mention of the author if anyone else remembers that ?
There was going to be a building sized BFG in the atrium as well I think.
That would be an amazing addition to the city. I think a museum of Welsh art should be a priority too. Barcelona has an amazing museum dedicated to Catalan art throughout the centuries. Cardiff should taje the bull by the horns and become unashamedly Welsh. Barcelona is unashamedly Catalan and celebrates its different identity with vigour. You eat Catalan food there, here Catalan music there and the place is dripping in Catala. Culture. Cardiff doesn't even have a Welsh restaurant
Unfortunately it's a rather expensive shop for such a traditionally poor people's sweet. It is a real shame that Le Gallois closed its doors. Even though it wasn't strictly speaking Welsh cuisine the Welsh-French fusion seemed to go down rather well with people.
Is there a Welsh cuisine to speak of? Outside of certain items - laverbread, bara brith, glamorgan sausages etc I can't really think of a style of cooking that is associated with Wales. If you go to most cities in England how many restaurants boast that they are an English restaurant? Not that many I suspect. I think its all about where the ingredients are from which is where Scotland and Wales excel. If you go in any Brains pub you can get cawl, Celtic burgers, Welsh lamb etc and I think quite a few other establishments are cottoning on to the fact that this type of thing goes down well with locals and visitors alike.
I actually think Cardiff has made great strides in embracing its Welshness in recent years. When I was growing up most people I knew would have happily blocked the A48, A470 and A469 and declared independence. I think that attitude has mostly died out now. Plus its a two way street - how much has the rest of Wales embraced Cardiff?
I actually think its a good thing that Cardiff hasn't gone too far in being parochially "unashamedly Welsh". Most people in Wales still have a sense of both British and Welsh identity, and so should our capital city. I also just think its crass when everything is "Welsh this" or "Welsh that", in the same way as it would be if it were "English this" or "English that" in England, and yes, "Catalan this" and "Catalan that" in Barcelona (although I would be careful you don't over-estimate how Calalan Barcelona is, given that Castillian is the majority language there, and it is rather less separatist than much of the rest of Catalonia).
What I like about Cardiff is that there is a real sense of it being a bit different to England: there is something "Welsh" about the place, but it doesn't feel overwhelming. One of the reasons I love London but dislike Paris is that London feels a bit British, but overwhelmingly international, whereas Paris is almost stiflingly French. I think it would be a mistake if everything in Cardiff was draped in the Ddraig Goch.
I particularly love the internationalist feel of having a Starbucks and Pret a Manger on every street corner in central London instead of those stiflingly unattractive French patisseries in Paris.
starbucks = american
pret a manger = french
london is truly cosmopolitan
Pret a Manger are about as French as a Clarks pie.
@RandomComment. I've lived in Barcelona, and I can tell you that the vast majority of the people speak Catalan. It is in the high eighties, of course they do speak Spanish also but would prefer to speak English with foreigners even though some may also speak Spanish.
With regards to Welsh cuisine there are many local dishes up north but there are old recipes which died out due to the industrial nature of Wales and nobody having enough time to cook. That's why cawl is still around: because it takes a good few hours to cook and you just leave it to get on with its job whilst you look after your children, go milking etc. There is even such a thing as a Cardiff pudding which Dic Mortimer was kind enough to give a recipe for on his blog http://dicmortimer.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/cardiff-pudding/
with regards to draping Cardiff in Y Ddraig Goch. There are dragons everywhere in Cardiff. Like on every street corner absolutely everything. When you walk around the city next keep your eyes peeled you will see how many are used. I think Cardiff does need to embrace its Welshness a bit more. If anything is a USP for the city's tourism it is that. London is popular because for a few hundred years it was the de facto capital of the world. Paris is popular because its Paris. Barcelona because it is a nice city, even though it is plagued with pick pockets. In my experience, Cardiff is a very good European city. Although it declares itself to be a European capital city it does nothing to promote itself on the continent, the council has even dissolved Cardiff and Co. which is a short sighted move which will shoot them in the foot
It's hard to promote Welshness in Cardiff because the majority of people living in the city don't have strong Welsh roots and the predominant accent heard in the city is bland southern English. Cardiff is basically a small, quiet English city where people from the Valleys go shopping/drinking/watch sport.
It's a pity that Swansea city centre is such a shithole, because the city does have a genuinely Welsh identity (well the north/east does...) and is more culturally integrated with the rest of Wales.
I'm sorry, but I have to completely disagree. The vast majority of students in Cardiff are English and the students make up around 40,000 of the population in term time. The predominant accent in either a Welsh one or the classic Kerdiff, with a Southern English accent coming slightly higher than asian and Italian. Cardiff is far from a 'quiet English city' and it's imperialist attitudes like that which scupper Cardiff culturally.
Swansea City centre is a 'shithole' because it was bombed to shit by the German's in the Second World War and we had no money to rebuild it. If you look at pre-war photos of Swansea it was truly a gorgeous place. Shame it's stuck with a brutalist city centre. There are moves to improve it, but we have as little money now as we did then. Cardiff was lucky to escape such a lashing, but it wasn't totally unscathed.
Ash, absolutely right there is a lack of knowledge about Welsh accents, if you have ever heard a Welsh accent from Caernarfon you can see were the Scouse accent originated and those originating from Welshpool sound like they have parachuted in from Somerset! A valleys or a Carmarthen accent maybe the most recognisable accents but they are far from the only ones. A Cardiff accent is as valid a Welsh accent as any other.
You regularly hear the cardiff accent, especially when doing more local things like sunday league football or shopping in Asda. But there is a significant english population in cardiff and probably a significant non-cardiff welsh population which means the actual cardiff population that speak with a cardiff accent is not that big. However it is similar in any medium to large city which has a strong accent. There is always a large number of people who don't talk local as they have moved their from elsewhere due to cities being a draw with jobs etc.
If you take Newport - which doesn't have the draw Cardiff has but has a similar local accent - it is all you hear on the streets. I dont think anywhere is any less or more Welsh
What nonsense. Try any of the pubs in canton, stangetown, splow or Roath and you'll hear Cardiff. The same for Ely, fAirwater and so on
Much of this thread is displaying the rather irritating South Wales tendency to argue that any town/city east of you is not really Welsh. Bridgend say it about Cardiff, Cardiff about Newport, Newport about Chepstow.
Accents are strange things. You can't hear you own. As far as I'm concerned people in and around Chepstow (Calidot, Magor) sound west country.
Yet, I went in a pub in London with a bunch of Chepstow people once, and following "a pint of bitter please" the barman said "which part of Wales you from lads?"
We're just blind to the twangs and phonyms that corresponding to our own, and latch on to the different ones. I suggest that's what Rhys R is doing if he's not hearing an accent in Cardiff.
It always makes me smile when I read stuff like this. We always complain about the English thinking Wales is one homogenous lump with no nuances and yet you often find people here doing exactly the same. If you don't have the same accent as me you cant be proper Welsh like. It's quite depressing really and the ultimate in insularity. As though thousands of years of history, immigration and outside influence should affect every part of Wales in exactly the same way leaving us all speaking and thinking exactly alike.
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