If Cardiff’s Music Scene is at crisis point, here’s what can be done about it.
What was first reported locally became a UK and international story today as VICE’s Noisey ran a feature on the recent venue closures and concerns in Cardiff.
In short, two small live spaces (Dempseys and the Moon Club) have shut within the past month, whilst legendary venue Clwb Ifor Bach fears a planning proposal to build hotel rooms above a neighbouring Wetherspoon will result in noise complaints and subsequent closure.
There’s been frustration and anger vented in several directions. To Welsh brewery Brains, who owned Dempseys and are behind the re-development of the space into a sports-bar, a co-venture with Gareth Bale. To Cardiff Council, who have ambitions for the Welsh capital to be a ‘Liveable City’. And to Welsh Government, who prioritise the Creative Industies, of which music is a part.
Let’s first be clear. Brains have no real fault here. They‘re a brewery and a retail business and not custodians of Welsh Music. If they could have done something better, it would have been to understand the role Dempseys and its staff had undertaken for the local music scene and been more empathetic in managing the subsequent move from pub and live venue to sports-bar and the displacement that was to cause.
Yet here we are, and something needs to be done.
The solution is to develop a Music Strategy. A document that informs what makes the right vibrant music economy and culture for Cardiff as the capital of Wales. That maps what already exists ; what’s needed; and lays out the steps, actions and timeline as to how to get there. A framework that helps fly a red flag when a planning decision or re-development might impact upon that vibrant eco-system. That supports teams working in inward investment; tourism; funding; planning; licensing or events. That exists as a reference to guide decision makers as they come and go in positions of authority or influence.
Within Cardiff Council, there is no such strategy. Within Welsh Government, there is no strategy. It should be commissioned jointly by them both.
It should be written by Sound Diplomacy. As their website declares, and as many will testify, they are the leading global advisor on music cities and market development. They have offices in London, Berlin and Barcelona, and have worked in over 50 cities in 25 countries. In short, they know their shit.
Do that, and there’s a roadmap to a vibrant music economy and culture for the next decade.