Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Cardiff - Framework Conditions

Report by Phil Cooke and Tim Levenson


1. Comments on Cross-cultural Paper

My comments here refer fundamentally to the requirements necessary to try to ensure comparability of CIED projects and draw on my experience of other EU comparative projects. By paying close attention to the 5 points I shall make, the manual of good practice will benefit from being organized around such a structure, including further elements that others will contribute, of course.

A. Financial Engineering

It is crucially important that the Financial Engineering of projects to be implemented (or having already been implemented) is spelled out. The processes of assessing funding, identifying the market, seeking investment partners and ensuring financial investments are adequately mobilized, aver very important to achieving the successful implementation of projects. Tim Levenson’s experience with Cardiff Bay Development Corporation is of enormous value in this respect, both in general, and, in detail, with respect of the ‘Cultural Quarter’ scheme.

B. Cultural Impact

It is extremely important, for the outset, to involve the community (living in or near the area of building(s) to be refurbished) in the consultative process. This applies to the research aspects of a project like CIED as well as, even more importantly, the implementation of the plan. Some kind of focus group or end user-group needs to be created and encouraged very early in the process.

C. Market Research

Whatever facility is being planned must show that it has been the subject of research to assess the market demand for its services. This may include such customers as tourists or local consumers of the cultural facility or, if the facility is also aimed at attracting businesses of various kinds, market research into their interest or willingness to re-locate and the conditions under which they would seriously contemplate such re-location.

D. Partnership Inputs to Facility-Design

Here, we have in mind including users, in as far as possible, as contributors to the design of the facility in question. This does not merely mean the narrow aesthetics of the design but its functionality in terms of floorspace requirements, services provision, information technology requirements, transportation and so on. Here the focus or end-user group is of considerable importance but so, more indirectly, is the market-research approach.

E. Wider implications for Future EU Policy Design

To produce a manual of good practice means that important generic points must be assembled with the support of illustrative case material. It is crucially important not to get too bogged-down in detail but rather to schematize the basic elements of successful project management and liven up the presentation with good, detailed case material at each stage of the development process.

2. Newsletter

The Cardiff CIED Project began in earnest in January 1997 with the establishment of a Mount Stuart user-group for the project. This represents the Cardiff Bay Business Forum, Cardiff City Council, the Arts Council of Wales, Siriol mm Ltd., The Design Stage, Cardiff Bay Development Corporation and the University of Wales, Cardiff Centre for Advanced Studies in the Social Studies. This group has discussed wide-reaching position papers outlining the concept of developing a Cultural Quarter in Cardiff Bay as well as considering practical details of enabling cultural consumers to find easy and reliable means of transportation to and from the facilities presently available in the night-time economy of the Cardiff Bay area.

Amongst the first achievement of the CIED project has been conducting a survey of 300 multimedia and related businesses in Cardiff. The aim of this survey is to ascertain the number of firms that would be interested or willing to consider moving into customized, refurbished older accommodation in Mount Stuart Square, to act as a a multimedia industry node in the Cardiff Bay revitalization programme. The results of this survey are currently being analysed and preliminary indications are that there is considerable support for the idea of a Cultural Quarter with a strong multimedia focus on the part of business. Information on rental levels and services requirements from such firms is being sought as a means to design the new facility in order to meet business and community requirements as far as possible.

3. Activity Report

The main activities in which the Cardiff partners have been involved are summerised:

4. Cultural Inventory of Cardiff

Certain sub-sectors are very highly represented in the sector in Cardiff. Most obviously the performance sector, reflecting the strength of music in the city, the relative buoyancy of dance and drama performers working across theatre and television. The high representation of visual artists is a common feature in British and other European cities. Perhaps most striking are the large number of people working in the authorship category, particularly in a city without a major publishing industry. In part this is due to the significant number of musical composers who appear in this category. Otherwise, it may be that the existence of some press and magazine operations and the significant number of academic jobs in the city provide complementary work for writers who earn only part of their living from their craft. In this respect this group may provide a cross-over between two of the sectors which are subject of the study.

Elsewhere in Britain tentative attempts have been made to complete the employment picture by estimating the number of jobs in the wider economy which are generated by the extra-sector spending of cultural workers and organizations and the ancillary spending of attenders at events (accommodation, travel, food, drink, etc., associated with the visit). Different researchers have produced very different multipliers, the most optimistic of which are probably exaggerated. On the most conservative assumption the 4,500 jobs in the sector measured above have a positive impact in the order of 2,000 jobs beyond the sector.

The remainder of this paper is, largely, the context for the success of the sector in the city, the factors which have led to these concentrations, the reasons for some of the major characteristics of the sector and a consideration of the policies which have been enacted to bring about this picture and those which are being considered in order to build up it for the future.


Key Agency:

One of the key considerations in the city’s cultural make up is the existence of extensive professional education in cultural disciplines.

The two key institutions are the University of Wales Cardiff Institute providing training in fine art, graphic and other design disciplines and a range of crafts and the Welsh College of Music and Drama which trains professionals in all drama, dance, music and other performance disciplines. In addition the University of Wales Cardiff trains musicians, art historians, film makers / critics and writers of various sorts. The network of vocational further education colleges offer training in a wide variety of disciplines which lead to higher education or directly to employment in the sector.

Between them these institutions produce several hundred trained professional creators every year. This makes an enormous difference to the availability of skilled people in the sector, provides a seed bed for initiatives and companies and generally drives the cultural economy from the bottom up. However, these institutions are only now beginning to pay attention to the link between their provision and the economy of the sector in the city. There remains little direct contract between the industry and education, no strategy for the retention of the best talent in the city after graduation and little enterprise training in curricular as a means of equipping graduates for a successful entry into the economy.

The development of a vocational and professional training system should be a high priority for any city but this should go along with the recognition of the economic position of the training institutions and of their responsibility to produce graduates who have talent and high professional standards but also an understanding of how to succeed in the cultural economy.

The Cultural Industries (mass production and dissemination)

Key agencies:

The industries of mass cultural production and dissemination have significant potential for local economies but they also have drawbacks. They are generally centered on large private or public/private corporations which cannot be instigated where they do not already exist without the most major investment. Arguably they also operate increasingly in a global market where their local effect is not clearly discernible. However, as in Cardiff and Dublin, other cities will have the apparatus of national institutions.

In Cardiff the cultural industries are heavily skewed to the broadcast media. There is almost no large scale publishing industry due to the draw of the London publishing houses and the relatively small market for Welsh language publishing (Wales has just over 500,000 Welsh speakers, under 19% of the population almost no international market). There is no really appreciable recorded music industry. Rock and other commercial live music exists at a small scale and those Welsh musicians or bands who succeed generally do so once they leave Wales. This is fundamentally a function of the size of the city and therefore the restricted size of the market (300 000 people).

However broadcast television and associated film/media products have become important by virtue of public policy direction that Wales should be served by its own national broadcast organization. There are three major broadcast companies: the essentially public BBC Wales, the public/private S4S broadcasting in Welsh and the private HTV.

Television production and broadcast therefore contribute very significantly to the city. Over the last ten years government policy has had the effect of beginning the fragmentation of the production sector. The broadcasters now source programmes through a wide network of small (usually very small and sometimes transient) independent producers. This has had the positive effect of allowing easier entry to the trade for new talent and for new approaches and has broken down any barriers which existed between the television world and the arts world where performers, writers, directors, technicians, costume designers and many others move freely between television and theatre.

In turn, this new small enterprise production sector has enabled public authorities to intervene with small but focused initiatives to encourage its success. For instance, South Glamorgan TEC, Cardiff Bay Development Corporation and Cardiff County Council are in the process of setting up a series of vocation training courses in animation. An effect of the fragmentation of the industry has been the development of specializations. In Cardiff this has meant particular development in animation and in specialist post-production processes.

Partly as a response to their perception of the potential of the televisual media key partners such as the County Council’s Economic Development Department, the Training and Enterprise Council and Cardiff Bay Development Corporation are currently investing in new telematics and information technology initiatives. The strong cultural sector and its emphasis in the media has led to an identification of the potential for the city to develop a strong profile in the origination of content for new information carriers such as the internet.

In summary, the changes in the major broadcast corporations and their increased reliance on independent production networks has probably been a positive factor in the general health of the city economy. The priority in this deregulated phase, and for other cities in similar situations, will be to ensure basic levels of professional training, encourage high standard work in specialist areas, spread awareness of the potential of new information media and prompt the provision of basic but high quality production facilities to ensure that local companies can compete in an increasingly international market.

The National Institutions of Culture

Key agencies:

The role of capital city was conferred on Cardiff as recently as 1955. Nevertheless both before this and since there has been an imperative to develop the cultural institutions associated with national identity. In Cardiff these have generally been the National Museum, the National Opera Company and the National Orchestra of Wales. The advent of state lottery proceeds has heightened the debate by opening up the possibility of creating new, very substantial, national landmarks. In Cardiff this has been represented by the proposed National Opera House and the proceeding development of a new international centre for contemporary visual art.

All this affects the working lives of creative people. The National Concert Hall and the National Opera must engage a significant number of acts and performers from elsewhere in the world in order to ensure their international status and earning power. This ‘glass floor’ is, I suggest, a serious concern which should be addressed wherever the economic benefit of existing or planned institutions is under scrutiny.

The single most significant issue in the cultural development of Cardiff in many years was the recent failure of plans to create a new National Opera House. The proposed Opera House would have constituted both the most major national institution of culture to have been created in Wales this century and an international status project. Funding was largely sought from central state lottery funds in England. It was at no time suggested that the 80m pounds project could be funded from within Wales, although there are larger current capital projects in such things as road infrastructure and the Cardiff Bay Barrage. In the final analysis it proved impossible to secure commitment to fund the project and it appears to have passed beyond any hope of redemption. This mirrors the failure, over twenty five or more years to create in Cardiff a national theatre for Wales, proposals for which have been regularly set aside because of the perception that funding such an institution would require the withdrawal of support from the widest range of other theatres and theatre projects and would therefore kill the culture it sought to showcase.

Perhaps a more positive example, in that it is much smaller and is an exciting refurbishment of an old city building rather than the construction of a new edifice, is the international Centre for Visual Arts in the converted 1895 former city library. This project aims to create Cardiff’s only exhibition space capable of receiving and mounting international touring exhibitions by major artists of the twentieth century and to set this alongside a unique hands-on visual art experience for children, created on the model of the highly successful hands-on science centre movement of the last ten years. This project will transform the beautiful if rather austere library building whilst preserving its architectural integrity. It was developed as an alternative to plans to remove all internal structure from the building and dedicate the major part of it to city centre retailing. As a total project cost of under 7m pounds it justifies major investment by Cardiff County Council by retaining in the service of the people of the city a building with profound public loyalty and identification and a key city centre position.

The scale of economic impact of major national institutions when one measures the consumption of their services by visitors and the associated spending in the local economy is undeniable but it might be that they are a blunt instrument when it comes to intervention to build a healthy and diverse cultural economy. Perhaps the new model, to some extent typified by the Old Library, is the development of networks of small, separate, very high quality, specialist facilities across a city which are linked and marketed as the elements of a visitor menu. The Belgian Museum of Comic Books in Brussels is an excellent example and shows how this kind of smaller facility can more often be located in the refurbishment of a historic city building than might be possible with a more ambitious national institution.

Venues, audiences and arts consumption in the city economy

Key agencies:

Alongside the national institutions lie a range of venues whose public performances and exhibitions generate an economic effect through the spending of visitors to them, both in the venue and beyond it in expenditure associated with each visit they make.

Figure 4 gives estimated visits to different forms of entertainment for Cardiff in a year. The figures are based on national sampling and are the extrapolated for the city from regional figures. Nevertheless, they do give a sense of the scale of importance of cultural leisure.

Figure 4: Attendance patterns by art form – hypothetical average year

Extrapolated from the Beaufort omnibus with the assistance of Cardiff Arts Marketing and adjusted for known venue figures.

Number of attendances
Plays (English) 206,184
Plays (Welsh) 17,170
Ballet 15,148
Contemporary dance 21,462
Opera 25,754
Classical Music 71,540
Jazz 30,047
Musicals 81,555
Other entertainments 211,405
Cinema 217,481
Galleries 131,633
Museums 981,000
Total 2,010,378

Note: these figures are for indicative purposes only

Over two million visits each year to cultural attractions has a significant economic effect. Research has demonstrated a multiplier effect generated by the spending of attenders outside of the venue they attend. Commonly measured at just under 8 pounds per visit, this multiplier applied to these attendances generates secondary spending of almost 16m pounds in the local economy.

Contact to author:
Prof Phil Cooke
Centre for Advanced Studies
Cardiff University
44-45 Park Place
Cathays Park
Cardiff CF10 3BB
Tel: +44 (0)29 20 874945
Fax: +44 (0)29 20 874994

SEE - The EU Network of Excellence 'Dynamics of Institutions & Markets in Europe' (DIME) SAL 3
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